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Americans urged to leave Ukraine as danger expected for Independence Day

A Ukrainian servicemen stands guard by the wall of memory to the fallen Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. This year, Ukraine's Independence Day, which commemorates their break with the Soviet Union in 1991, coincides with the six-month mark since Russia launched its large-scale invasion of the country. The fighting has largely focused on the eastern Donbas region and the south, but most anywhere in Ukraine remains vulnerable to Russian air strikes. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department is urging all Americans in Ukraine to leave due to expectations that Russia's military might carry out particularly dangerous attacks this week to mark Ukrainian Independence Day.

The department issued a security alert that said the Russian strikes are expected to hit civilian and government targets over the coming days around the holiday on Wednesday.

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"The Department of State has information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine's civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

U.S. officials have said Russian forces have positioned more warships in the Black Sea off Ukraine's southern coast.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that Russian forces may try to do something "particularly cruel" this week.

"Nuclear saber-rattling must stop," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Monday. He called for the international community to "come to the negotiating table to ease tensions and end the nuclear arms race, once and for all".

Guterres also said "humanity's future is in our hands" at this "moment of maximum danger."

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He called for "the same commitment to dialogue and results" at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where fighting has generated concern among leaders and nuclear experts. Guterres said he supports a mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the plant, which is Europe's largest nuclear power facility.

Russia's war in Ukraine will begin its seventh month on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials reported new attacks in Dnipro in the south-central part of the country and the port city of Mariupol.

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Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov warned residents on social media to take cover before dawn. Both cities have seen constant attacks since the war began Feb. 24.

"Please stay under cover," Filatov said, according to The Guardian. "There are already facts of rockets falling on private houses. Details to come later."

Another Russian attack hit a boiler plant in Russian-controlled Mariupol.

Britain's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that Russia has probably started to reconstruct a bridge that spanned the Dnipro River last weekend to restore a key crossing needed to move troops and supplies between Kremlin-controlled Kherson and eastern Ukraine.

The ministry said in a post to Twitter that Russia appears to be constructing a floating bridge to replace ferries, but those will likely be vulnerable to renewed Ukrainian offensive attacks.

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