Artillery shells rained down on a city near Europe's biggest nuclear plant and Russian missiles struck near the Black Sea port of Odesa on Sunday, as Ukraine warned of the potential for more serious attacks by Russia as the war neared its six-month anniversary.
Wednesday marks 31 years of Ukraine's independence from Soviet rule as well as half a year since the invasion and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for vigilance, saying Moscow could try "something particularly ugly."
In his nightly video address on Sunday, Zelenskiy said he had discussed "all the threats" with French President Emmanuel Macron and word had been sent also to other world leaders including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
"All of Ukraine's partners have been informed about what the terrorist state can prepare for this week," Zelenskiy said, referring to Russia.
The Financial Times, in an article published Sunday, quoted Gennady Gatilov, Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, as saying Erdogan had tried to facilitate dialogue. But he dismissed speculation about talks between Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying there "was not any practical platform for having this meeting," the report said.
Putin ordered what he called a "special military operation" to demilitarise its smaller neighbour and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and Western backers accuse Moscow of waging an imperial-style war of conquest.
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While investigators said they were considering "all versions" when it came to establishing who was responsible, the Russian Foreign Ministry speculated there could be a link to Ukraine, something a Zelenskiy adviser dismissed.
"Ukraine, of course, had nothing to do with this because we are not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation, and moreover we are not a terrorist state," Mykhailo Podolyak said on Ukrainian television, suggesting the incident was "Karmic" payback for supporters of Moscow's invasion.
Ukraine Prepared To Mark Its Independence Day
As Ukraine prepared to mark its Independence Day embroiled in a war that has flattened towns and cities, killed thousands and forced millions to flee, officials reported more Russian strikes on targets in the east and south of the country.
Of particular concern was the shelling of Nikopol, a city near Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine and Europe's biggest nuclear plant.