Russia Planning 'Massive' Attack on Ukraine Independence Day: Intelligence

Ukrainian intelligence said that Russian forces are planning to attack Ukraine in a "massive shelling" event next week.

"The threat of massive shelling on the territory of Ukraine with S-300 missiles is obvious. Considering the arrival of several trains [from Russia] before Aug. 20, it is clear that the Russians are preparing to attack Ukraine on Aug. 24," the Centre for Strategic Communications (StratCom), a Ukrainian NGO, wrote on its website and Telegram channel Thursday, the Kyiv Post reported.

August 24 marks Ukraine's 31st Independence Day, which honors the adoption of the Proclamation of Independence of Ukraine granted when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Earlier this month, StratCom said that Russian trains armed with heavy ammunition, including missiles, were headed for the Ukrainian border and set to arrive on Saturday just days before the annual holiday.

Ukraine Independence Day
Ukraine is preparing against a "massive" attack from Russian forces on its Independence Day, according to Ukrainian intelligence. Above, a visitor arranges flowers in the colors of the Ukrainian national flag in front of graves of soldiers from the town of Lviv killed in the ongoing Ukraine-Russian conflict, a day after the 30th anniversary of Ukrainian independence, in Lychakiv Cemetery on August 25, 2021 in Lviv, Ukraine. Adam Berry/Getty Images

Ukrainian officials have recently been preparing for Russia to strike on Independence Day.

Oleg Zhdanov, a reserve colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said during a TV marathon that he believes operations were already underway in Belarus, where Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has allowed Russia to amass forces since the early days of the war in Ukraine.

"There has always been a certain threat from the territory of Belarus, and let me remind you that it was its territory that Russia used from the first days of the full-scale invasion," Yuriy Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine's Air Force Command, told reporters on Tuesday. "Therefore, we must definitely be prepared for possible missile strikes."

Ihnat added that Russia has always used certain dates, like Ukraine's Independence Day, for so-called "congratulations."

On Thursday, Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense shared a recording of an intercepted conversation between a Russian soldier and his mother, during which he said Russia is expecting Ukraine's armed forces to organize a counter-offensive.

"They want to stage a show execution," to mark Independence Day, the soldier said.

The Biden administration has criticized Lukanhesko for allowing Russia to use Belarus as a staging area for the ongoing war in Ukraine, saying its cozy relationship with Russia was helping launch "a brutal, premeditated, unjustified attack against its neighbor to the south."

"The regime has set aside what should be Belarus' own sovereignty and independence and in a way, its territorial integrity by permitting Russia's forces on to—again what should be sovereign Belarusian soil—to launch a brutal, premeditated, unjustified attack against its neighbor to the south," Ned Price, spokesperson for the State Department, said Wednesday.