Ukraine says Russian ‘shackles’ worse than missiles, six months after invasion

WARNINGS

On Tuesday evening, Zelenskyy warned of the possibility of “repugnant Russian provocations” and on Wednesday, Ukraine’s military urged people to take air raid warnings seriously, reporting new air and missile attacks on civilian buildings.

The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced more than a third of Ukraine’s 41 million people from their homes, left cities in ruins, and shaken the global economy. It is largely at a standstill with no immediate prospect of peace talks.

As well as Crimea, Russian forces have seized areas of the south including the Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts, and chunks of the eastern Donbas region comprising the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Almost 9,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in the war, its military said this week. Kyiv says the invasion is an unprovoked act of imperial aggression.

Russia has not publicised its losses but US intelligence estimates 15,000 killed in what Moscow describes as an operation necessitated by threats to its security.

Moscow has set jail terms of five years for anyone referring to its actions in Ukraine as an invasion.

Russian opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman was shown being detained at his home in a video published on social media on Wednesday, telling reporters he was being arrested “basically for one phrase, ‘the invasion of Ukraine'”.

Moscow has installed officials in areas of Ukraine it controls but some have been assassinated. The head of the town of Mykhailivka in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia region was killed by a car bomb on Wednesday.

Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 after a failed putsch by Communist hardliners in Moscow, and its population voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum that December.

NUCLEAR PLANT HOPES

Both sides have accused the other of firing missiles and artillery at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, Europe’s biggest, raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said the UN nuclear watchdog hoped to gain access within days if negotiations succeeded. The United Nations has called for the area to be demilitarised.

Western countries offered Ukraine more military support, with Norway saying it and Britain would supply micro drones to help with target identification and the United States announced a new security package of about US$3 billion.

The Secretary General of the NATO Western defence alliance told Ukrainians they were an inspiration to the world.

“You can count on NATO’s support. For as long as it takes,” Jens Stoltenberg said in a video message.

Advanced U.S. missile systems appear to have helped Ukraine strike deep behind the front lines in recent months, taking out ammunition dumps and command posts.

In the latest mysterious fire at a Russian military facility, Russian officials said ammunition stored in the south near the border with Ukraine spontaneously combusted on Tuesday.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod region, blamed hot weather for the fire, drawing ridicule from Ukraine’s defence ministry on Twitter.

“The five main causes of sudden explosions in Russia are – winter, spring, summer, autumn and smoking,” it said.