Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday marks 31 years since the country voted to secede. Soviet UnionIt makes for a sad affair, as officials have warned that Russia could launch missile strikes against Ukrainian cities.
While previous years have been marked by celebrations and parades, Wednesday’s Remembrance Day comes exactly six months after Russia’s invasion began.
President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the day with an emotional speech that hailed the Russian invasion as a new Independence Day — a day when Ukraine must fight for its independence rather than vote at the ballot box.
“On February 24 at 4 a.m. a new nation was formed, not born, but born again. A nation that does not cry, does not scream, does not fear. Didn’t run away. Not giving up. Not forgotten,” Zelensky said Wednesday.
He added: “Every new day is a new reason not to give up. For, having passed so much, we have no right not to reach the end. What is the end of the war for us? We said: Peace. Now we say: success.
The head of Kyiv’s military administration, Major General Mykola Zhirnov, said events in the capital and other cities were banned so that security forces could respond more efficiently to Russian attacks.
Instead of a parade, wrecked and captured Russian military vehicles, including tanks, were placed on Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s main street, a testament to Moscow’s failure to capture the capital in the early weeks of the war.
“The enemy planned to march on Khreshchatyk in three days, but it didn’t work. Our armed forces retaliated,” wrote Kyrillo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine. Telegram SaturdayWhen the vehicles are placed on the road by crane.
On the eve of Independence Day, a crowd was seen in Khreshchatyk, surveying the scene. Some children crawled over the tank’s rusted metal carcass, while others posed for pictures by the mangled vehicles.
Lyubov, who asked that his last name not be published, said he came to show his 8-year-old son Ilya a “scrap metal parade.”
As Illya boarded a Russian combat vehicle, Lyubov described the parade as “symbolic,” adding, “A lot of people in Kyiv (have forgotten) about the war, so I think it’s a good reminder.”
Her husband, who was fighting on the front lines, asked her to move to a summer home 50 kilometers (31 mi) away from the capital. But she refused to go.
“Even if there were massive missile attacks in Kyiv (Wednesday), we will not leave,” he said, “in case of radiation contamination… In the case of missiles, we have an emergency bag at home, with enough clothes and overalls. We are no longer afraid of them so easily.”
“(Independence Day) is not festive for me, rather sad,” he added. “Because I understand what’s going on and my husband and brother are on the front lines.”
Holding a Ukrainian flag, another CNN viewer also has relatives fighting against Russia.
“My father is on the front line, many of my relatives are on the front line … so tomorrow is not a celebration, but a sense of honor and freedom, because this time will be felt differently than the previous 30 years.” Daria, 35, declined to give her last name.
Zelensky warned Russia on Tuesday Let’s move on Attempts to launch attacks, including missile attacks, on “infrastructural facilities or government institutions” during holidays. The US government joined the chorus of concern with Americans on Tuesday Leave the country immediately.
In Khreshchatyk, a Ukrainian war-spoiled area, many who spoke to CNN shared concerns about a possible Russian attack on Wednesday.
“We planned to come here tomorrow, but because there are so many warnings about tomorrow, we will stay at home,” said Ole Fedir, 51, as he visited the parade with his wife.
“We came here to see the scrap metal parade because (the Russians) spoiled the celebration for us. Last year on Independence Day we watched the parade of (Ukrainian) military equipment with planes, it was majestic and impressive. Now, this current parade is very impressive. Inside it The photos of those who were there are missing,” he said, referring to the Russian soldiers.
After six months of conflict that has crippled Ukraine’s economy and disrupted every aspect of daily life, the exhaustion is palpable.
“I don’t feel festive tomorrow, I’m not in a festive mood,” Oleksii, 29, said, explaining that he was worried about missiles being fired at the capital.
“My hatred of Russians has become so great that it is tearing me apart,” said Anna, 68, who declined to give her last name for security reasons.
The clinic where she works has asked her to work remotely for the next few days. “I worked (throughout) the war … sometimes coming home under shelling,” he said.
He described Russian President Vladimir Putin as unpredictable, like a “monkey with a grenade”.
“He says one thing, does something different, and nobody can guess what’s really on his mind,” he said.