KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president said Monday that Kyiv has been able to defend the independence of the country in the eight months of the war waged by Russia.

In his nightly address, Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the eight-month anniversary of the invasion and noted that the Ukrainian forces are advancing in the partially occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions and also intend to retake the Zaporizhzhia region and the annexed Crimea.

“Ukraine is breaking the so-called second army of the world,” Zelenskyy said. “Now Russia can only be a beggar. It is begging for something in Iran, trying to squeeze something out of Western states, inventing various tales about Ukraine, intimidating, deceiving.”

Zelenskyy warned that the coming winter “will be the most difficult in history.”

“We have no right to relax. We still have to go the way to the Ukrainian victory. It is a difficult road,” the president said.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— Ukraine reports success in shooting down 70% of drones launched by Russia

— Ukraine hospital’s staff fight dark memories of occupation

— Ukrainian woman’s quest to retrieve body of prisoner of war

— Macron: Ukraine to decide time, terms of peace with Russia

— EXPLAINER: What would retreat from Kherson mean for Russia?

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ZAGREB, Croatia — U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Iran is “making a big mistake” by supplying Russia with drones that are targeting Ukraine’s infrastructure.

“We’ve been trying for a while now to have a nuclear agreement with Iran so that we can make the world a safer place and now they’re going off aiding the Russians and making the world a less safe place,” Pelosi said in Zagreb, Croatia.

The United States and key Western allies have accused Russia of using Iranian-made drones to attack civilians and power plants in Ukraine. Iran has denied it is supplying Russia with the explosive-laden missiles but the distinctive triangle-shaped drones have been seen.

“First of all, we have to be able to counter the drones,” Pelosi said at a joint press conference with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. “It is a dangerous technology and it must be stopped.”

Pelosi was in Croatia to attend an international forum aimed at supporting Ukraine’s independence in the face of the Russian aggression.

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MOSCOW — A senior Russian official says that authorities have taken steps to boost weapons production amid the fighting in Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said he visited the country’s top tank factory in the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil on Monday to discuss ways of increasing output.

Medvedev noted that foreign observers have predicted that Russia would run out of its weapons stockpiles soon, adding that such forecasts were bound to fail.

He said that “production of weapons and equipment — from tanks and cannons to precision missiles and drones — is increasing many fold.”

“You just wait,” he said.

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MOSCOW — Russia’s military says it has discussed with its British counterparts the alleged threat of Ukraine using a dirty bomb.

According to a statement Monday by Russia’s Defense Ministry, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, discussed “the situation related to the possible use of a dirty bomb by Ukraine” with Britain’s Chief of the Defense Staff Admiral Tony Radakin.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu first made the claim over the weekend in phone calls with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Shoigu voiced concern about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb,’” a device that uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste. It doesn’t have the devastating effect of a nuclear explosion, but could expose broad areas to radioactive contamination.

The U.S., Britain and France responded by saying in a joint statement that “our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”

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NICOSIA, Cyprus — Hungary’s foreign minister says his counterparts in other European Union countries are seized by a “rhetoric of war” that’s pushing the prospect of peace in war-torn Ukraine farther away.

Péter Szijjártó says his country has been calling for an immediate ceasefire and for peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials as soon as possible. Europe’s security, economy and energy supply will increasingly suffer the longer the war continues, he said Monday.

Szijjártó said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that the EU’s sanctions on Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine have “failed,” driving up inflation and bringing “extremely high energy costs” in Hungary because of reduced gas supply.

The top Hungarian diplomat urged the EU to embark on a search for new sources of energy and to harness newly found gas deposits off Cyprus, building “new pipelines, new routes to make sure that the gas which is being found here can be available for the European market.”

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MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has readied its forces for the possible use of a dirty bomb by Ukraine in a false flag attack to be blamed on Russia. That claim that has been strongly rejected by the U.S. and its allies.

Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian military’s radiation, chemical and biological protection forces, said Monday that Russian military assets already had been prepared to operate in conditions of radioactive contamination.

Kirillov charged that Ukraine has abundant stock of radioactive waste accumulated at its nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities, as well as the necessary expertise to build a dirty bomb.

Speaking at a briefing, Kirillov claimed that a dirty bomb explosion could spew deadly radiation at distances of up to 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov seconded the military’s allegations, saying Monday that “the information has been checked via corresponding channels.”

“It’s not an unfounded suspicion, we have serious reasons to believe that such things could be planned,” he said at a news conference Monday.

Ukraine has rejected Moscow’s claims as an attempt to distract attention from its own plans to detonate a dirty bomb, and its Western allies also dismissed the Russian claims as “transparently false.”

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MOSCOW — Russian authorities say Ukrainian troops fired rockets at a major hydroelectric power plant in the southern Kherson region.

Russian news agencies carried a statement from regional emergency services saying Monday that the Ukrainian military fired 19 rockets at the Kakhovka plant and scored three hits.

There was no immediate information about the casualties, and the damage was still being assessed.

Vladimir Rogov, a senior member of the Kherson region administration, said that the Kakhovka plant hadn’t sustained serious damage and was still operating.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of plotting to blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant’s dam to flood the mostly flat terrain as Ukrainian forces press their offensive on Kherson, which was captured by the Russian troops in the early days of the conflict.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s top diplomat is urging the U.N. nuclear watchdog to immediately send an inspection team to the country to counter Moscow’s claim that Kyiv is preparing a “provocation” involving a dirty bomb.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday he made the request in a call with Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Kuleba said Grossi agreed to send a team of inspectors, adding that “unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and remains transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu alleged in phone calls with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey that Ukraine was preparing a provocation involving a dirty bomb — a device that uses explosives to scatter radioactive material.

The U.S., Britain and France said in a joint statement that they “reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says rebuilding Ukraine will be a “task for a generation” that no country, donor or international institution can manage alone.

Scholz spoke at a German-Ukrainian business forum on Monday, a day before he and the head of the European Union’s executive Commission host a gathering of experts to help mobilize international support for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

The chancellor pointed to the EU’s decision in June to make Ukraine a candidate to join the bloc. He said that “this decision also sends a signal to private investors: anyone who invests in rebuilding Ukraine today is investing in a future EU member country that will be part of our legal community and our single market.”

Scholz said it’s important not just to repair destroyed energy plants and networks, but to make them more efficient — ultimately allowing an expansion of Ukrainian electricity exports to the EU and a step-by-step transition to climate neutrality.

He stressed the need for more transparency and “an even more determined fight against corruption” as Ukraine strives ultimately to join the EU.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told the forum that rebuilding will be a forward-looking process. He added that “in the process of transformation, incredible opportunities for European companies will open up — in the energy sector, in agriculture, in the military sector, in IT and all other (areas).”

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin is standing by its allegation that Ukraine may be preparing to detonate a so-called dirty bomb, which disperses radioactive material, though Ukraine, the United States, Britain and France have dismissed Moscow’s claim.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the claim in phone calls with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Shoigu voiced concern about “possible Ukrainian provocations involving a ‘dirty bomb,’” a device that uses explosives to scatter radioactive material.

Such a device doesn’t have the devastating effect of a nuclear explosion, but could expose broad areas to radioactive contamination.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Kremlin didn’t publicly offer any specific information to back up its claim.

But speaking during Monday’s call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that Shoigu’s warning reflected a real threat.

“Their distrust of the information that has been provided by the Russian side doesn’t mean that the threat of using such a dirty bomb doesn’t exist,” Peskov said. “Such a threat exists, and the defense minister has given the information about it to his interlocutors. It’s up to them whether to trust it or not.”

Western allies said they reject “Russia’s transparently false allegations” and warned they would “see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.”