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Russian forces continued to bomb targets in eastern and southern Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reiterated his Attention that Moscow could prepare more serious attacks before the 31st anniversary of Kyiv’s independence.

Local authorities in Kyiv have banned large public events, rallies and other gatherings related to the anniversary due to the possibility of rocket attacks, according to a document released by the Kyiv Military Administration.

The Ukrainian General Staff said in its August 22 daily update that in the eastern region of Bakhmut, Russian artillery fire and several rocket launcher systems had caused damage in the settlements of Soledar, Zaytseve and Bilohorivka.

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Russian forces continued to focus their efforts on establishing full control over the territories of the eastern Lugansk and Donetsk regions, maintaining the captured areas of the city of Kherson and parts of the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya and Mykolaiv, the General Staff added.

The town of Nikopol, which is across the Dnieper from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, was shelled five times overnight, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram on August 21.

He said 25 artillery shells hit the town, causing a fire at an industrial facility and knocking out power to 3,000 residents.

Fighting near Zaporizhzhya and a missile strike on the southern town of Voznesensk, not far from Ukraine’s second-largest atomic power plant, have raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Moscow has called for a UN Security Council meeting to be held on August 23 to discuss the plant, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN. , Dmitry Polyanskiy.

On August 21, US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron held a phone call stressing the importance of ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities, while emphasizing their “unwavering commitment” to Ukraine.

Zelenskiy called for vigilance, saying Moscow could try “something particularly ugly” ahead of August 24, which marks Ukraine’s independence day and six months after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said he discussed “all threats” with Macron and information was also passed on to other leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“All of Ukraine’s partners have been briefed on what the terror state can prepare for this week,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, referring to Russia.

Zelenskiy also warned that if Russia went ahead with plans to bring Ukrainian defenders captured in Mariupol to justice, it would have violated international rules and cut itself off from negotiations.

“If this despicable show trial were to take place…that would be the line beyond which negotiations are no longer possible,” he said. “There will be no more conversations. Our state has said it all.”

The Financial Times, in an article published on August 21, quoted Gennady Gatilov, Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, as saying that Erdogan had tried to facilitate dialogue.

But he dismissed speculation about talks between Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying there “was no practical platform to hold this meeting”, according to the report.

Russia said its Kalibr missiles destroyed an ammunition depot containing missiles for a US-made HIMARS rocket in the Odessa region of southeastern Ukraine, while Kyiv said an attic had been hit.

Neither claim could be independently confirmed.

With reports from Reuters, AP, AFP and dpa

Laura T. Thrasher