Ukraine is bracing this week for a surge in Russian missile attacks to coincide with Ukraine’s independence day (August 24) and shortly after the car bombing of the daughter of an ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue who has been linked to Putin. Independence Day also coincides with the six months since the start of the Russian invasion.
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The Ukrainian military has warned that Russia has deployed five cruise missile warships and submarines in the Black Sea and that Moscow is placing air defense systems in Belarus. The country’s armed forces also warned on Sunday night that Russia has closed the airspace in the border regions of Lipetsk, Voronezh and other nearby areas between August 22 and 25. Starting this Monday, large gatherings in kyiv have been banned for the next four days.
On Saturday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “Russia may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel” this week, as the country celebrates its 31st anniversary of independence.
Tensions between the two countries are at risk of rising further following the murder of Darya Dugina outside Moscow on Saturday night. Dugina’s father is Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin. Investigations into the murder continue, although some Russian hawks have tried – without evidence – to blame Ukraine, which in turn has denied any involvement in the attack, claiming that “it is not a terrorist state”. This Monday, the Russian intelligence service has blamed the Ukrainian secret services for the operation, something that kyiv has publicly denied.
On Sunday night, a former member of the Russian Duma who was expelled for his activities against the Kremlin and who is now based in kyiv, he claimed that an unknown group of Russian partisans was behind the attack. Ilya Ponomarev said the deadly blast was the work of the National Republican Army, which he says is an underground group working inside Russia dedicated to overthrowing the Putin regime.
“This action, like many other partisan actions carried out on the territory of Russia in recent months, was carried out by the National Republican Army (NRA),” he said. Ponomarev on his YouTube channel. Guardian has not verified the authenticity of the claims.
Appeals against kyiv
Concerns about whether Russia would intensify its attacks around Ukraine’s independence day had been in the air for some time and predated the Moscow attack, but it could be used as an additional pretext by Russia.
Leading Russian hawks who blame kyiv for the car bombing have called it an “assassination attempt” and demanded that the Kremlin respond by targeting members of the kyiv government.
“Decision-making centers! Decision-making centers!” wrote Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-funded RT television network, repeating a call to bomb the headquarters of the Ukrainian intelligence agency, SBU.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has said that if a Ukrainian link is confirmed and verified by the competent authorities, “then we should talk about the state terrorism policy applied by the kyiv regime.”
If the car bombing is definitively linked to the war, it would be the first time since February that the violence unleashed in Ukraine has reached the Russian capital, touching the family of a Kremlin ally and near one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Russia. Moscow.
kyiv has strongly denied the allegations. “Ukraine has absolutely nothing to do with this because we are not a criminal or terrorist state like Russia,” Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in remarks broadcast on television.
Keir Giles, a Russia expert at the Chatham House think tank, has said it is unclear whether Ponomarev’s claims about the NRA are true: “The Kremlin’s response depends on whether it is a genuine resistance movement or a complex conspiracy.” Russian style where nothing is what it seems, and we may not know for a while”.
The explosion came shortly after Dugina left the Tradition cultural festival at an estate where her father had given a lecture. The two were expected to leave together but instead got into different cars, a friend said.
Five minutes later, a bomb exploded in the car Dugina was driving, killing her instantly. Witnesses said debris flew across the road as the car was engulfed in flames before crashing into a fence.
Dugin is known for developing a far-right view of Russia’s position in the world and had previously advocated violence against Ukraine, while his daughter held similar views. He has been described as a “Russian fascist” and is a known conspiracy theorist.
Some claim that he helped shape the Russian president’s expansionist foreign policy. But Dugin’s influence over Putin remains the subject of speculation, with many insiders claiming his influence over the Kremlin was minimal.
Investigators believe the bombing was “premeditated and contractual in nature,” said Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the investigation committee, Russia’s top federal investigative authority.
Andrey Krasnov, Dugina’s friend and head of the Russian Horizon social movement, confirmed the reports, according to the Tass news agency. He said the bomb could have been intended for his father.
“This was the father’s vehicle. Darya was driving another car, but today [sábado] has taken his, while Alexander has gone another way. He came back, he was at the scene of the tragedy. As far as I understand, Alexander or probably them together were the target,” Krasnov said.
However, Russia’s independent news agency Agentstvo reported that leaked government databases showed the car was registered to Darya, not her father. Some images on social networks seemed to show him at the scene in a state of anguish.
Investigators have opened a case into Dugina’s murder and will carry out forensic examinations to try to determine what happened. They said they were considering “all sides” in finding out who was responsible.
Translation of Lara Lema