A call for restraint and fears. A few days after a series of shootings at the site of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, several European leaders, including Emmanuel Macron, tried to calm things down by calling for some measure around these high-risk places. If Europe focuses on the risk of nuclear disaster, Ukraine fears a bloody attack on its population, while the day of its national holiday, which celebrates its exit from the USSR, approaches.
American, French, German, British and American leaders called on Sunday for "restraint" around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, the largest in Europe, occupied by the Russian army. Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron as well as Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spoke by telephone, also requested the "rapid" dispatch to the site of a mission of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy (IAEA), according to Mr. Scholz's spokesperson. Last week, Vladimir Putin gave the green light for a visit, saying he too feared an incident. During their talks on Sunday, the four Western leaders also "agreed that support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression would be maintained".
A symbolic day, for a symbolic attack? Russia could "do something particularly disgusting" and "cruel" next week in Ukraine, when the latter celebrates its Independence Day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Saturday evening. "One of the key objectives of the enemy is to humiliate us", to "sow despondency, fear and conflict", but "we must be strong enough to resist any provocation" and "to make the occupiers pay for their terror,” he added.
An adviser to the presidency, Mykhailo Podoliak, estimated that Russia could intensify its bombardments of Ukrainian cities during August 23 and 24. "Russia is an archaic state that ties its actions to certain dates, it's a kind of obsession. They hate us and will try to increase (...) the number of bombings of our cities including kyiv with missiles from cruise," he said, according to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.
Ukraine celebrates its independence from the USSR on August 24 in 1991. This year, the date will also mark the six months of the Russian invasion which killed tens of thousands of people and caused massive destruction in the country. In this context, the kyiv authorities announced on Sunday the ban on all public gatherings from August 22 to 25 in the capital.
What's going on with Ukrainian agents? The head of a regional branch of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has been found dead at his home in central Ukraine, the prosecutor's office said on Sunday. Late Saturday evening, the wife of Oleksandr Nakonechny heard the sound of a shot in their apartment in Kropyvnytsky before discovering the body of her husband shot in one of the rooms, said the prosecution on Telegram.
The police have opened an investigation to establish the cause of his death, added the prosecution without commenting on the theses examined by the investigators. A few weeks ago President Volodymyr Zelensky undertook a major reform of this staff, deemed untrustworthy. Several had been sacked.