The sense of dread deepened Tuesday in Ukraine because of warnings that Russia may try to spoil the country’s Independence Day holiday and mark the war’s six-month point with intensified attacks.
The U.S. reinforced the worry with a security alert citing “information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.” As it has done previously, it urged American citizens to “depart Ukraine now.” Several European countries issued similar warnings.
Kyiv authorities banned mass gatherings in the capital through Thursday for fear of missile attacks around Independence Day, which, like the six-month mark in the war, falls on Wednesday. The holiday celebrates Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. “Our country is having a very hard time, and we need to be careful,” 26-year-old Vlad Mudrak said in support of the ban.
Anxiety also mounted after the weekend car bombing outside Moscow that killed the daughter of a leading right-wing Russian political theorist. Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack. While Ukraine denied involvement, the bloodshed stirred fears of Russian retaliation.
Hundreds of people paid tribute at a memorial service Tuesday to the bombing victim, Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a writer dubbed “Putin’s brain” and “Putin’s Rasputin” because of his purported influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dugina, a pro-Kremlin TV commentator, died when the SUV she was driving blew up Saturday night as she was returning home from a patriotic festival. Her father, a strong supporter of the invasion of Ukraine, was widely believed to be the intended target.
Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia “may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel” this week. On Tuesday, however, Zelenskyy stressed defiance rather than worry when he raised the national flag at a memorial one day ahead of Independence Day.
Meanwhile, The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, warning of an increased possibility of Russian military strikes on Ukraine in the coming days around Ukrainian independence day, has again urged U.S. citizens to leave if they can.
“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 in an alert on its website.
“The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to depart Ukraine now using privately available ground transportation options if it is safe to do so,” the alert said, repeating the advice of previous security warnings. Kyiv has banned public celebrations in the capital on the anniversary of independence from Soviet rule on Wednesday, citing a heightened threat of attack.