A new tranche of US funding will help Kiev buy more weapons, ammunition and other supplies for its armed forces, which are locked in a bitter war of attrition with Russian forces in the east and south, with neither side making much progress in weeks.

This handout photo taken and released by the Emergency Situations Service of Ukraine on July 31, 2022 shows a firefighter putting out a fire in a building after shelling in Kharkiv during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: handout / Ministry of Emergency Situations of Ukraine / AFP

KYIV, UKRAINE – The United States will announce $3 billion in new military aid to Kiev on Wednesday as Ukraine marks its independence day as well as the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion.

A US official confirmed the planned White House statement, even as Washington warned that Moscow may be planning a surge in strikes on key civilian targets in time for Independence Day celebrations, and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged citizens to be on guard against “Russian terror”. “

A new tranche of US funding will help Kiev buy more weapons, ammunition and other supplies for its armed forces, which are locked in a bitter war of attrition with Russian forces in the east and south, with neither side making much progress in weeks.

In Moscow, the Kremlin warned it would show “no mercy” over the killing of Daria Dugina, the daughter of an ultra-nationalist intellectual linked to President Vladimir Putin, which it blamed on Ukraine.

Kyiv denies responsibility for Saturday’s terrorist attack, the target of which, apparently, was Dugina’s father, Alexander Dugin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the investigation into the terrorist attack will be completed soon.

“According to the results of this investigation, there can be no mercy for those who organized, ordered and carried out” the car bombing, he said.

The expected announcement of US aid came as world leaders renewed their support for Kiev.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday warned Russia against further attempts to annex Ukrainian territory in the same way it did with Crimea.

“It has never been more important for all of us to stand together,” Johnson said in a video address to participants of the Crimean Platform conference in Kyiv.

Polish President Andrzej Duda advised against any “appeasement”, saying: “There is no return to the normal regime in relations with Russia.”

French President Emmanuel Macron promised that the European Union’s support for Ukraine will continue “for a long time.”

“There can be no weakness, no spirit of compromise, because this is a matter of our freedom for all and world peace,” he said.

Tensions rose in the Ukrainian capital as both Zelenskiy and the US State Department warned that Russia could step up attacks on the holiday.

This year, celebrations in Kyiv are restrained, and mass gatherings are prohibited.

Ukrainians, after six months of death and destruction, sadly perceived the upcoming anniversary.

“Every family’s peace of life has been disrupted for six months,” 80-year-old pensioner Nina Mikhailovna said on the Independence Square in the center of Kyiv.

“How much destruction, how many dead, how can we relate to that?” she asked.

The Kyiv city administration said it would close its consumer service centers on Wednesday and Thursday, and shopping centers here said they would close until the anniversary for security reasons.

“Tomorrow is an important day for all of us. And that’s why this day, unfortunately, is also important for our enemy,” Zelensky said in a speech on Tuesday evening.

“We must understand that disgusting Russian provocations and violent strikes are possible tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, discussions continued about how to protect the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which is occupied by Russian troops and under threat of shelling, for which Moscow blames Kyiv.

The two sides traded accusations at a UN Security Council meeting on Zaporozhye on Tuesday, with Ukraine and its allies demanding Russia withdraw its troops from the nuclear power plant – Europe’s largest nuclear facility – and agree to a demilitarized zone.

On Tuesday, Lavrov spoke by phone with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna about an expected visit to the plant by inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency amid concerns about the high risk of a radiation accident.

The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, issued a statement on Tuesday expressing regret over the weekend shelling, saying additional damage had been caused.

“I continue to consult very actively and intensively with all parties so that this vital IAEA mission can take place without further delay,” he said.

This would “help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation at the site and reduce the risk of a major nuclear accident in Europe.”

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