Zelensky Warns of 'Particularly Nasty' Russian Acts During Independence Day

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia could do something "particularly nasty" in the next week, as Ukraine prepares to celebrate its Independence Day.

Ukraine's annual Independence Day follows months of fighting against Russian troops for control over territory. The holiday is set to be celebrated on August 24, exactly six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his invasion of the Eastern European country. Putin launched the invasion under the guise of liberating the separatist Donbas region and ridding the Ukrainian government of Nazis, even though Zelensky is Jewish.

As the war rages on, fighting is concentrated in the easternmost region of Ukraine as Kyiv, bolstered by Western military aid, continues to hold back Russian forces. But ahead of the holiday, which commemorates the day Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, some are warning that Russia could ramp up attacks to secure a military victory.

During a national address on Saturday, Zelensky said that he's expecting Russia to do something "particularly cruel" either on the holiday or the days surrounding it.

Zelensky wars "particularly nasty" Russian acts
Above, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen during a press conference in Lviv on Thursday. Zelensky warned that Russian troops might do something “particularly nasty” as his country prepares to celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images

"We should be aware that this week Russia may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel," he said, according to Ukrainian news outlet Pravda. "Such is our enemy. But in any other week during these six months, Russia did the same thing all the time—disgusting and cruel."

Despite the warning, Zelensky also noted the importance of this year's holiday for Ukrainians, especially in Crimea—a Ukrainian territory annexed by Russian forces in 2014, which has become the site of fighting as Ukraine aims to end what they view as an illegal occupation.

"This year, it is literally felt in the air of Crimea that the occupation there is temporary, and Ukraine is returning," the Ukrainian president added.

Zelensky's comments come after a Ukrainian intelligence warning on Thursday that said Russia is planning to attack Ukraine in a "massive shelling" event in the coming days.

"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.

Ukrainian intelligence has also said that Russia plans to display captured Ukrainian soldiers in iron cages for a "show trial" in Mariupol, a Russian-occupied city that has been devastated by the invasion. The soldiers displayed are expected to be those who were captured while defending the Azovstal steel plant earlier this year.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign affairs ministry for comment.