While previous years were marked by festivities and parades, Wednesday’s revival comes exactly six months after the start of the Russian invasion of the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the day with an emotional speech that spoke of the Russian invasion as a new independence day – the day when Ukraine had to fight for its freedom, rather than just vote for it at the polls.
“A new nation appeared on February 24 at 4 a.m. It was not reborn, but reborn. A nation did not cry, did not scream, did not fear. It did not run away. It did not give up. It did not,” Zelensky said Wednesday.
He added: “Every new day is a new reason not to give up. Because after we’ve gone through so much we have no right not to reach the end. What is the end of the war for us? We used to say: Peace” and now we say: Victory.
On Wednesday, those concerns appeared to be over. Yury Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told CNN that Russia had launched “missile strikes through Ukrainian territory.”
“In other major cities of Ukraine, even those far from the battlefield, there were explosions, there were missile strikes,” Sak said, adding that Kyiv received at least eight sirens on Wednesday.
Zelensky said later on Wednesday that the Chaplin train station in eastern Dnipropetrovsk Oblast was hit, killing at least 22 people and injuring 50 others. Among those killed in the attack was an 11-year-old man.
“Chaplin is our pain today. To this moment, there are 22 dead, five of whom had burns in the car. A teenager, who was 11 years old, died, and his house was destroyed by a Russian missile,” Zelensky added.
“Not that easy”
Instead of a military parade, wrecked and captured Russian military vehicles, including tanks, were placed on the main Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv, as evidence of Moscow’s failed attempt to capture the capital in the first weeks of the war.
On the eve of Independence Day, crowds of people are seen in Khreshchatyk, inspecting the parade. Some children crawled over the tank’s rusty chassis, while others were photographed by the worn-out vehicles.
Lyubov, who asked that her last name not be published, said she had attended a “scrap metal parade” for her 8-year-old son, Ilya.
While Ilya was climbing a Russian combat vehicle, Lyubov described the show as “symbolic,” saying, “A lot of people in Kyiv (forgot) the war, so I think this is a good reminder.”
She said her husband, who is fighting on the front lines, pleaded with her to leave the capital for their summer home, 50 kilometers (31 miles) away. But she refused to go.
Even if “there were massive missile strikes on Kyiv (on Wednesday), we would not leave,” she said, explaining that she had an emergency bag at home, with enough clothes and jackets “in case of radioactive contamination…in case we are no longer so easily afraid of them.” anymore.”
“I don’t feel festive about (Independence Day), I feel sad,” she added. “Because I understand what’s going on and my husband and brother are on the front line.”
Other sightings of CNN, holding the Ukrainian flag, told CNN that she had relatives fighting against Russia.
“My father is on the front line, and a lot of my relatives are on the front line… So tomorrow is not a celebration in itself, but a tribute and a sense of independence, because this time it will look different than it did in the past 30 years,” said Daria, 35, who declined to give her last name. .
US President Joe Biden marked Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday by reaffirming the US commitment to Ukraine by investing $2.98 billion in new security assistance.
“This will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems, munitions, anti-drone air systems, and radars to ensure that it can continue to defend itself in the long term,” Biden said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly will remain — and will remain — an independent and sovereign nation,” Biden said, adding that the United States “looks forward to continuing to celebrate Ukraine as a democratic, independent, sovereign, and prosperous nation for decades to come.”
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl later told reporters that the security assistance package includes the VAMPIRE anti-drone system – or anti-drone system – that uses “essentially small missiles to launch missiles from the sky”. Wednesday.
World leaders joined Biden on Wednesday in pledging continued support for Ukraine.
British Prime Minister Johnson met with Zelensky during his visit. He announced a $66 million aid package for Ukraine, telling the country that it “can and will win” the war against Russia.
Portuguese Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho was also among the foreign leaders in Kyiv.
In Brussels, a giant Ukrainian flag was hoisted on the Grand-Place during an event attended by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
‘It’s tearing me apart’
On Khreshchatyk in Kyiv on Tuesday, several who spoke to CNN expressed concerns about a possible Russian attack on Wednesday.
After six months of conflict that has decimated Ukraine’s economy and disrupted nearly every part of daily life, the fatigue is palpable.
“I’m not feeling festive about tomorrow, not in a festive mood,” 29-year-old Oleksiy said, explaining that he was worried about rocket fire on the capital.
“My hatred of Russians has grown to the point that it tore me apart,” said Anna, 68, who declined to reveal her surname for safety reasons.
The clinic she works for told her to work remotely for the next few days. “I worked (throughout) the war…Sometimes I go home under the bombardment,” she said.
She described Russian President Vladimir Putin as unpredictable, like “a monkey carrying a grenade.”
“He says one thing, he does something different and no one can guess what’s really on his mind,” she said.
CNN’s Kyle Blaine, Karen Smith, Nicholas Pierce, and Radina Jegova contributed to this report.
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