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Defiant Zelenskiy pledges powerful response to Russia on eve of war’s six-month milestone

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KYIV, Aug 23 (Reuters) – As Ukraine prepared to mark both its independence from Soviet-rule in 1991 and the six months since Russian troops invaded, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pledged that any Russian attacks in or around the date would provoke a powerful response.

Zelenskiy, who has led his country’s resistance since Russian troops poured over the border on Feb. 24, also said Ukraine would restore its rule over the Crimea region – annexed by Russia in 2014 in a precursor to this year’s invasion.

Despite his defiance, there was concern among Ukrainian and allied Western officials that Russia was preparing to attack the capital Kyiv once again.

The United States urged its citizens to leave Ukraine, saying it believed Russia would target civilian and government infrastructure in the next few days. U.S. citizens should leave Ukraine “now” by their own means if it was safe to do so, the U.S. Embassy said.

On the battlefields away from Kyiv, Russian forces carried out artillery and air strikes in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeastern Ukraine, where fighting has taken place near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s military said.

Meanwhile leaders of dozens of countries and international organizations were taking part in the so-called Crimea Platform – most of them by video – in solidarity with Ukraine on the six-month anniversary of the invasion.

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