President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned Ukrainians to be vigilant next week as they prepare to celebrate their independence day, as new explosions hit Crimea and 12 civilians were injured near a nuclear power plant.
In his nightly video address on Saturday, Zelensky said Ukrainians should not allow Moscow to “spread despair and fear” among them during the celebration of the 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule.
Zelensky said before the anniversary on August 24, which also marks six months since the all-out Russian invasion Ukraine seem.
Tensions are also rising in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where a full-day curfew will be extended on Wednesday, regional governor Oleh Sinhop said on Saturday. The northeastern city is regularly bombarded by Russia and there is usually a curfew from 10pm to 6am, but extra precautions were required on Independence Day.
On Saturday, Russian and Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile hit a residential area in a southern Ukrainian town not far from a nuclear power plant, wounding 12 civilians.
Ukrainian officials said the blow to the Pevdnokrainesk nuclear plant and the new bombardment near the Zaporizhzhya plant, Europe’s largest, have raised new fears of a nuclear accident during the war.
In his speech, Zelensky also indirectly referred to A series of explosions in recent days in the CrimeaUkrainian territory occupied and annexed by Russia during the 2014 incursion.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, but analysts said at least some of them were made possible by new equipment used by Ukrainian forces.
“You can literally feel that this year Crimea is in the air, that the occupation there is only temporary and that Ukraine will return,” Zelensky said.
In the latest attack in Crimea, a Russia-appointed governor – who has not been recognized by Ukraine or Western governments – said a drone struck a building. Near the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet On Saturday morning.
video Subscribed to Twitter It appears to show Russian air defenses trying to destroy the drone and plumes of dark smoke rising from the city.
Mikhail Razvogayev, the governor of Sevastopol, wrote on Telegram that a drone had hit the roof of the headquarters on Saturday and said that there were no casualties, the Russian news agency reported. tast.
“I am in [Black Sea] Fleet headquarters now. A drone hit the roof here 25 minutes ago. Unfortunately, it was not shot down… There were no injuries,” he wrote.
Later on Saturday, the governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, contradicted the previous statement by saying on Telegram that local air defenses had shot down the drone over the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
Air defense systems successfully hit all targets above the area over Crimea on Saturday morning. There were no casualties or material damage, said its boss, Sergei Aksyonov, on Telegram.
Authorities in Sevastopol reported on Saturday night that the city’s air defense systems were called into action again in the evening.
Ukrainian media reported explosions in neighboring towns – including the resorts of Yevpatoria, Olynyivka and Zazornoy.
After the strike near the power plant of southern Ukraine, Vitaly Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram that four children were among the wounded.
Private houses and a five-storey apartment building were damaged in Voznesensk, 30 km from the plant, the second largest in Ukraine.
In an earlier update of the death toll, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Mykolaiv region said that 12 civilians were injured.
The state-run company Energoatom, which operates all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power generators, described the attack on Voznesensk as “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism.”
“It is possible that this missile was specifically aimed at the Pvdnokrainsk nuclear power plant, which the Russian army attempted to recover at the beginning of March,” Energoattom said in a statement.
Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters was unable to verify the situation in Voznesensk. There were no reports of any damage to the plant in southern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Albanian Defense Ministry said, on Saturday, that three people with Russian and Ukrainian passports were arrested after they tried to storm a military base and weapons factory in central Albania.
The ministry said in a statement, Saturday, that two of its soldiers were injured while trying to stop them.
“Three citizens holding Russian and Ukrainian passports tried to enter the factory,” the ministry said in a statement sent to the media.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the three people were “suspected of espionage”.