Says “this will be line beyond which no negotiations are possible”.

KYIV   -   Russia might take the provocative step of putting Ukrainian soldiers on trial as Kyiv marks 31 years of independence for the war-ravaged country next week, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Sunday. Zelensky cited media reports that Russia was preparing to put Ukrainian fight­ers captured during the siege of Mariupol on a public trial to coin­cide with the independence anni­versary Wednesday.

Ukraine’s Independence Day, Au­gust 24, will also mark six months since Russia invaded the former Soviet republic, in a devastating war that has cost thousands of lives. “If this despicable court takes place, if our people are brought into these settings in violation of all agreements, all international rules, there will be abuse,” Zelen­sky warned in an evening address. “This will be the line beyond which no negotiations are possible.”

The capital Kyiv has already an­nounced a ban on public gather­ings. Kharkiv too, declared a cur­few around the holiday. Zelensky was returning to a subject he had already raised in the previous night’s remarks.

“Russia could try to do some­thing particularly disgusting, par­ticularly cruel,” he warned late Saturday. “One of the key objec­tives of the enemy is to humiliate us,” and “to sow despondency, fear and conflict”.

But he added: “We have to be strong enough to resist all provoca­tion” and “make the occupiers pay for their terror”.

A presidential adviser, Mykhaylo Podolyak, said Russia could intensify its bombing campaign. “Russia is an archaic state that links its actions to certain dates, it’s an obsession of sorts,” the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted him as saying.

“They hate us and will try to in­crease... the number of bombings of our cities including Kyiv with cruise missiles,” Podolyak added.

Kyiv authorities on Sunday banned public gatherings from Au­gust 22 to August 25. In the north­eastern city of Kharkiv, the regional governor announced a curfew from the evening of August 23 to the morning of August 25.

“We will not allow any provoca­tion by the enemy. Be as vigilant as possible during our indepen­dence holiday,” Oleg Synegubov wrote on Telegram. Kharkiv has been under regular Russian bom­bardment for weeks and on Sun­day emergency services said a woman was killed and two other civilians were wounded in over­night strikes.