The United States urged its citizens to leave Ukraine, warning that Russia is preparing a large-scale attack on civilian and government infrastructure.
The news comes after the Ukrainian government banned celebrations in Kyiv for the anniversary of independence from Soviet rule due to fears of a Russian attack.
Leaders of countries and international organizations were set to stand in solidarity with Ukraine by participating in the so-called Crimea Platform on Tuesday.
As the war reaches its six-month mark, Russian forces still control large swathes of the south, including chunks of the eastern Donbas region and along the Black Sea coast.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv urged U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine, fearing a new surge in attacks.
“The Department of State has information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days,” the embassy said.
It added that U.S. citizens should leave Ukraine “now” if it were safe to do so.
No end in sight
The warning comes as Ukraine was due to mark 31 years of independence from Soviet rule.
It also follows the killing of the daughter of a prominent Russian ultra-nationalist, Darya Dugina, who died in a car bomb attack near Moscow on Saturday.
But Moscow blames the killing on Ukrainian agents, an accusation Kyiv denies
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Moscow could try “something particularly ugly” in the run-up to Wednesday’s anniversary.
Despite the warnings, the mood in Kyiv remained calm, with many people continuing to wander the streets.
Ukrainian authorities told citizens to work from home, urging people to take air raid warnings seriously and seek shelter when the sirens sound.
The Kyiv city administration also banned large public gatherings over fears celebrations could become a target for a Russian missile strike.
Polish President Andrzej Duda was in the capital on Tuesday to discuss further military support for Ukraine with Zelenskyy.
Regional governor Oleh Synehubov said Russian shelling hit the eastern city of Kharkiv—Ukraine’s second-largest city, with a house being hit, but no one was hurt.
As The Epoch Times reported:
In the south, Ukraine claimed Russia fired artillery and mounted air strikes in several towns in the Zaporizhzhia region, where Russian forces captured the nuclear power plant shortly after the invasion.
Artillery and rocket fire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex on the south bank of the Dnipro River has led to demilitarization calls for the area.
The two sides have traded blame over frequent shelling at the plant. Kyiv accuses Moscow of basing troops and storing military hardware there. Russia denies this and accuses Ukraine of attacking Zaporizhzhia with drones.
Meanwhile, according to news agency RIA, Moscow requested a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the Zaporizhzhia plant.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces shelled a building housing the local administration headquarters in the center of separatist-controlled Donetsk city, according to reports quoting Russian-installed officials. It said three people were killed.
According to Russia’s defense ministry, Russian forces also downed a Ukrainian SU-27 warplane over the Kharkiv region.
Five thousand five hundred eighty-seven civilians had been killed and 7,890 wounded between Feb. 24 and Aug. 21, The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday. According to The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, nine hundred seventy-two children have been killed or injured over six months of the war.
Ukrainian armed forces chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi provided what was beleived to be the first public Ukrainian military death toll, reporting almost 9,000 soldiers had died in action.
But Reuters has been unable to verify military losses.