October 4, 2022

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The sense of dread has deepened in Ukraine because of warnings that Russia may try to spoil the country’s Independence Day holiday on Wednesday and mark the war’s six-month point with intensified attacks.

The US reinforced the worry with a security alert citing “information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.” As it has done previously, it urged American citizens to “depart Ukraine now.”

Kyiv authorities banned mass gatherings in the capital through to Thursday for fear of missile attacks around Independence Day, which, like the six-month mark in the war, falls on Wednesday. The holiday celebrates Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukraine has banned Independence Day celebrations for Wednesday, August 24, 2022 over fears of increased Russian attacks. (Nine)

“Our country is having a very hard time, and we need to be careful,” 26-year-old Vlad Mudrak said in support of the ban.

Anxiety also mounted after the weekend car bombing outside Moscow that killed the daughter of a leading right-wing Russian political theorist.

Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack. While Ukraine denied involvement, the bloodshed stirred fears of Russian retaliation.

Hundreds of people paid tribute at a memorial service on Tuesday to the bombing victim, Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a writer dubbed “Putin’s brain” and “Putin’s Rasputin” because of his purported influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A car bombing that killed the daughter of a leading Russian nationalist in Moscow has increased fears in Ukraine of a major Russian attack on Independence Day. (AP)

Dugina, a pro-Kremlin TV commentator, died when the SUV she was driving blew up on Saturday night as she was returning home from a patriotic festival. Her father, a strong supporter of the invasion of Ukraine, was widely believed to be the intended target.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia “may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel” this week.

On Tuesday, however, Zelenskyy stressed defiance rather than worry when he raised the national flag at a memorial one day ahead of Independence Day.

“The blue and yellow flag of Ukraine will again fly where it rightfully should be — in all temporarily occupied cities and villages of Ukraine,” he said, including the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pledged his country will keep fighting six month after the Russian invasion. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP) (AP)

NATO, meanwhile, said Zelenskyy can continue to count on the 30-nation alliance for help in defending itself in what Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called “a grinding war of attrition.” The war broke out on February 24.

“This is a battle of wills and a battle of logistics. Therefore, we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation,” Stoltenberg said at an international conference on Crimea.

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