Kyiv bans Independence Day celebrations, Russia planning new attacks

Al Jazeera English reports: Ukraine’s capital bans public events celebrating 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule citing threat of renewed Russian attacks.

The ban came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow could try “something particularly ugly” in the run-up to Wednesday’s 31st independence anniversary, which also marks half a year since Russia invaded.

The Reuters news agency, citing an official document, said the ban on public events related to the anniversary will last from Monday through Thursday.

Kyiv is far from the front lines and has only rarely been hit by Russian missiles since Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian ground offensive to seize the capital in March.

Other jurisdictions also restricted public gatherings. In Kharkiv, a northeastern city that has come under frequent and deadly longer-range artillery and rocket fire, Mayor Ihor Terekhov announced an extension to an overnight curfew to run from 4pm to 7am, effective from Tuesday to Thursday.

In the port of Mykolaiv, near Russian-held territory to the south, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said authorities planned a precautionary order for residents to work from home on Tuesday and Wednesday and urged people not to gather in large groups.

The United States meanwhile said it has intelligence that Russia is planning to launch new attacks against Ukraine’s civilian and government facilities soon.

A US official quoted by Reuters said “we have information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.” The official said the statement was based on downgraded intelligence.

In an evening address, Zelensky called for new punitive measures on Russia from Europe, which is bracing for energy shortages after Moscow announced a three-day halt to some gas flows to the continent in apparent retaliation to European Union sanctions.

Russia denies this, blaming the cuts on the sanctions themselves and various technical problems.

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