Events marking Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday were banned in the country’s capital, Kyiv, and second-largest city, Kharkiv, as officials warn Russia could carry out missile attacks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Saturday that Russia may be planning something “ugly” to coincide with the day, which will mark 31 years since Ukraine severed ties with the Soviet Union.
“We should all be aware that this week Russia might try to do something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious,” Zelensky said in a video message.
In Kyiv, the city’s military administration banned all gatherings between Monday and Thursday, saying “it is forbidden to organize mass events, peaceful meetings, rallies and other events related to a large gathering of people”.
General Mykola Zhyrnov, head of Kyiv’s military administration, said the order was imposed so that security forces could respond “in a timely manner to threats of missile and bomb attacks by military troops.” the Russian Federation against decision-making centers, military installations, defense industry facilities, critical infrastructure and nearby residential areas.”
Zhynov said he ordered city authorities to use the minimum necessary number of officials, civil servants and laborers to provide transportation and other services.
In Kharkiv, where relentless and indiscriminate Russian attacks killed and injured hundreds of civilians in the first months of the war, authorities announced a curfew from 7 p.m. independence, at 7 a.m. the next day.
“We ask that you understand these measures and be prepared to stay at home and in shelters – this is our safety,” authorities said.
Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Southern Ukrainian Military Command, said on Sunday that “the date of our independence and the six-month anniversary of the invasion coincide – we are on the 24th. And there is the Ukrainian flag day, 23. We are ready for the fact that there will be an increase in some kind of aggression, there will be an increase in missile attacks.”
Last week, Ukrainian officials said more Russian missiles had been deployed to an air base in Belarus.