Tensions between Ukraine and Russia increased this week ahead of both Ukraine’s Independence Day and the six-month anniversary of the start of Russia’s invasion.
Ukrainians are concerned about a Russian attack on civilian targets ahead of the nation’s Independence Day. Ukraine separated from the former Soviet Union in 1991. It celebrates the holiday on August 24.
In the capital city of Kyiv, military leaders banned large events celebrating the holiday until Thursday. They are concerned about an attack during both the Independence Day holiday and the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion, which is also August 24.
Vlad Mudrak is a 26-year-old living in Kyiv. He said he understands the restrictions. “Our country is having a very hard time,” he said, “and we need to be careful.”
In addition to a ban on public events, Kyiv city leaders have asked people to work from their homes when possible. They are saying to take any attack warnings they hear seriously.
Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy said any attacks by Russia during the holiday would be met with a strong response. He also said Ukraine would continue to push to reunify Crimea, a region taken over by Russia in 2014.
In a conversation with leaders and international agencies working in support of Ukraine, Zelenskyy said, “It is necessary to liberate Crimea.”
The acting prime minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, told the group that his country would continue to support Ukraine. Draghi said, “We are with you in your fight to resist Russia’s invasion.”
The United States has warned any American citizens still in Ukraine to leave as soon as possible due to concerns about an attack. On Monday, the U.S. State Department said it recently received information that Russia planned to increase attacks on non-military targets.
Tensions between leaders in Moscow and Kyiv are higher than usual this week for other reasons, as well.
Russia says Ukraine is responsible for the death of Darya Dugina, the daughter of an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Dugina was killed by a car bomb last weekend. Her father, Alexander Dugin, is a well-known political writer who has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Hundreds of people gathered to remember Dugina on Tuesday at a memorial service. Observers say that she may have been killed by mistake and that her father was the true target of the bomb.
Ukrainian leaders say they were not responsible for the attack.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine reaches its sixth month, the international community continues to keep an eye on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. Leaders of the United States, France, Germany and Great Britain recently met to discuss their concerns about the nuclear energy production center and the fighting going on nearby. They urged United Nations officials to visit the plant.
The nearby fighting has many people worried about a possible release of dangerous radiation. The plant is under Russian control but continues to be operated by Ukrainian workers.
One major concern is that nearby fighting could result in electricity being cut, which might prevent the nuclear plant from operating normally.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press and Reuters.
Words in This Story
alert–n. the state of being ready for something, such as an attack
tension –n. a feeling of nervousness that makes it hard to relax, a feeling of anger between two groups
radiation –n. a type of powerful energy that can be dangerous, produced by radioactive substances and nuclear reactions
response –n. something done as a reaction to something else
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