Kyiv, August 24: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday vowed to retake control of annexed Crimea which was captured by Russia in 2014. "We need to win the fight against Russian aggression, and therefore we need to free Crimea from occupation. It will end where it began," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at the opening of the Second Crimea Platform Summit as reported by Anadolu News Agency.

Zelenskyy said Crimea is "not just some territory" for Ukraine, and noted it is a "part of our people, our society." "Crimea was and is Ukraine, and after de-occupation, along with our entire state, it will become part of the European Union," he said adding "the passport of a citizen of Ukraine will also be the passport of the European Union. These are colossal opportunities for all our people living in Crimea." Also Read | Ukraine Marks Independence Day Amid Air Raid Sirens, Six Months After Start of Russian Invasion.

The Ukrainian president added his country is "strong enough" to see a "perspective for the Ukrainian Crimea." The Crimea Platform is a diplomatic initiative of Ukraine that is intended to be an international coordination mechanism to draw global attention to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, according to Anadolu News Agency.

The first summit was held on August 23, 2021, with attendance from more than 40 countries. Earlier, the US warned that Russia is "stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine's civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days."

The message posted by the US Embassy in Kyiv had similar warnings from the Ukrainian President about potential Russian actions against Ukraine coinciding with his country's Independence Day, Voice of America reported.

"Russian strikes in Ukraine pose a continued threat to civilians and civilian infrastructure," the US Embassy said, adding that U.S. citizens should depart Ukraine if they are able.

Amid the warnings, Kyiv cancelled public Independence Day celebrations. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Catherine Russell, on Monday, said that at least 972 children in Ukraine have been killed or injured by violence since the war escalated nearly six months ago, with an average of over five children killed or injured each day.

Catherine said once again, as, in all wars, the reckless decisions of adults are putting children at extreme risk. She said there are no armed operations of this kind that do not result in children being harmed.

"The use of explosive weapons has caused most of the child casualties. These weapons do not discriminate between civilians and combatants, especially when used in populated areas as has been the case in Ukraine - in Mariupol, Luhansk, Kremenchuk, and Vinnytsia. The list goes on and on.

The Russia-Ukraine war began nearly six months ago. The full scope of the Ukrainian refugee crisis is difficult to quantify and far exceeds any other refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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