Ukraine is bracing for possible Russian strikes as it marks its independence day and 31 years since the end of Soviet rule. Authorities have canceled celebrations in Kyiv as officials warn that Russia is preparing to attack the capital. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he had information from Ukraine’s intelligence services and international partners that there was an increased threat, as the US said it believed Russia would target civilians and government infrastructure in the next few days. Ukraine’s defense ministry advised Ukrainians to be especially careful, citing the threat of missile attacks and “provocations” from Russia.
Many civilians were attempting to leave Kyiv amid fears of a Russian attack, according to an adviser to Ukraine’s president. Alex Rodnyansky said people were worried and that there was “certainly some concern” an attack may strike the centers of decision-making on Wednesday. Russia and the Putin regime “are really obsessed with dates and symbols, so it would be logical to be on the lookout and be prepared for independence day to be attacked”, said Andriy Yusov, the head of the ministry’s intelligence directorate.
Zelenskiy has warned Russia of a strong response to any independence day attacks. Russia “will receive a response, a powerful response”.
Zelenskiy said Ukraine will not agree to any proposal to freeze the current frontlines in order to “calm” Moscow, which controls about 22% of Ukraine including Crimea. “At the point where we are, we are not ready for a ceasefire. We explained that there will be no Minsk-3, Minsk-5, or Minsk-7. We will not play these games, we have lost part of our territories this way … it is a trap,” he said during a press conference after a summit of the Crimea Platform in Kyiv.
Zelenskiy also vowed to return Crimea to Ukraine, saying it would become part of the EU along with the rest of the country. “We will return Crimea, because it is our territory. In any way we decide. We will decide it on our own, without consulting any other state. It all began with Crimea, and it will end with Crimea.”
The UN nuclear watchdog said it would visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine “within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed”.
The US is set to announce a fresh security assistance package for Ukraine of about $3bn (£2.5bn), officials have said, to equip it for a war of attrition and secure its medium- to long-term defense posture. The money will fund contracts for as many as three types of drones, and other weapons, ammunition and equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two, US officials told the Associated Press.
Ukraine has accused Russia of having organized illegal mass adoptions of Ukrainian children after transferring them from occupied territories to the Russia mainland. “More than 1,000 children from Mariupol [a southern Ukrainian city occupied by Russian troops] were illegally transferred to outsiders in Tyumen, Irkutsk, Kemerovo and Altai Krai” in Siberia, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said.
The UN has said it is “very concerned” about plans by Russian-backed authorities to hold trials for captured Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol. Pro-Russian officials appeared to be installing metal cages in a hall in Mariupol as part of plans to establish what they were calling an “international tribunal”, a UN rights office spokesperson said, adding that such a process could itself amount to a war crime.
A $75m (£63) superyacht linked to a Russian steel billionaire has been put to auction in Gibraltar in the first sale of an oligarch’s assets since Putin invaded Ukraine in February. The 72.5-metre Axioma was seized from Dmitry Pumpyansky in March under sanctions by the UK, EU and the US.
Hundreds of people gathered in Moscow for the funeral of Darya Dugina. Dugina, daughter of ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin, was killed on Saturday in a car bomb attack outside Moscow. Russia’s FSB security service has accused Ukrainian intelligence agencies of ordering her killing, which Kyiv denies.