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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Aug 24 (Reuters) - Ukrainians mark 31 years since they broke free from the Russia-dominated Soviet Union on Wednesday in what is certain to be a day of defiance against the Kremlin's six-month-old war to subdue the country once again.

FIGHTING

* "Tomorrow is a important day for all of us - it is also, unfortunately, important for our enemy. We must be aware that disgusting Russian provocations and brutal strikes are possible," Zelenskiy said in his evening video address.

* Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, has banned public celebrations commemorating Ukraine's independence from Soviet rule. Kharkiv and Mykolaiv have also imposed curbs.

* Zelenskiy said Ukraine would recapture its annexed peninsula of Crimea from Russia by any means it deemed right, and that it would not consult other countries before doing so.

* Russian air defences shot down an unspecified number of Ukrainian drones near the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Tuesday night, Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said.

* Reuters could not confirm the battlefield reports.

* Ammunition being stored in southern Russia near the border with Ukraine caught fire, the second such incident in a week, and an official said high temperatures were to blame.

DIPLOMACY, ECONOMY

* The United States will announce a new security assistance package for Ukraine of about $3 billion as early as Wednesday, a U.S. official said, in what would be the single largest tranche to Kyiv since Russia's invasion six months ago.

* Russian politicians bade farewell at a service to Darya Dugina, the daughter of one of Russia's most prominent nationalist ideologues, hailing her as a martyr whose death must inspire Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

* The U.N. nuclear watchdog will visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine within days if talks to gain access succeed, it said.

* A total of 33 cargo ships carrying about 719,549 tonnes of foodstuffs have left Ukraine under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to unblock Ukrainian sea ports, the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry said.

QUOTE

"Probably no one has done as much to unite Ukraine as Putin," said Kyiv resident Yevhen Palamarchuk, 38, ahead of Wednesday's Independence Day. "We always had some internal tensions in the country but since 2014, and especially since February, we are united more than ever."

(Compiled by Cynthia Osterman)

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