Ukraine marks Independence Day; Zelensky warns of ‘repugnant Russian provocations’

Wednesday, 24 August 2022 (15:14 IST)
Ukraine is celebrating Independence Day on a somber note exactly six months after Russia launched its invasion.

In a speech recorded for Independence Day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was "reborn" when Russia invaded in February.

"A new nation appeared in the world on Feb. 24 at 4 o'clock in the morning. It was not born, but reborn. A nation that did not cry, scream or take fright. One that did not flee. Did not give up. And did not forget," he said. "What for us is the end of the war? We used to say: peace. Now we say: victory."

There are low-profile commemorations to mark 31 years of independence, as the Ukrainian population braces for possible Russian attacks to coincide with the event.

Authorities in Kyiv have banned public gatherings while the front-line northeastern regional hub Kharkiv — Ukraine's second city — has imposed a curfew.

As part of its defiant celebrations, the Ukrainian government laid out the carcasses of burnt-out Russian tanks and armored vehicles in central Kyiv.

Late on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of the possibility of "repugnant Russian provocations."

"We are fighting against the most terrible threat to our statehood and also at a time when we have achieved the greatest level of national unity," Zelenskyy said in his evening address.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's military has urged people to take warnings of air raids seriously.

"Russian occupiers continue to carry out air and missile attacks on civilian objects on the territory of Ukraine. Do not ignore air raid signals," the Ukrainian General Staff said in a statement released early on Wednesday.

US ambassador tweets message of support

US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink tweeted a message of support to Ukraine to coincide with the anniversary.

Speaking to Ukrainians in a video, she paid tribute to "incredible unity and resolve in your heroic defense against Russian aggression."

"We stand united with you as that struggle continues in the face of Russia's brutal and unprovoked war."

Norway and UK donate micro drones

The Norwegian Defense Ministry said Norway and Britain are to jointly supply micro drones to Ukraine to aid in its war with Russia.

The Teledyne Flir Black Hornet drones, used for reconnaissance and target identification, are estimated to be worth some 90 million Norwegian crowns ($9.26 million, €9.31 million), the ministry said in a statement.

The miniature surveillance units can fit into an individual soldier's kit and provide troops on the ground with local situational awareness.

Russian detains politician for criticism of war

Authorities in Russian have arrested politician Yevgeny Roizman known for his criticism of the war in Ukraine.

Russia's state news agency TASS said Roizman, a former mayor of the city of Yekaterinburg, was being investigated for "discrediting the Russian army."

Roizman was one of a handful of Kremlin critics who won mayoral posts after a slew of opposition protests as President Vladimir Putin campaigned for a second stint as president in 2012.

Russian authorities have prosecuted a number of activists for calling the armed conflict a war, or for criticizing Russia's action.

More on the war in Ukraine

At dawn on February 24, Russia's army invaded Ukraine. A fighter with the National Guard, a volunteer in Kyiv, and a refugee from Mariupol tell DW how their lives have changed.

As Ukraine marks Independence Day, a reborn Ukraine led by the country's "independence generation" has emerged in the face of Russia's aggression, writes DW's Roman Goncharenko.

Speaking at the Crimea Platform conference, Ukraine's president said Kyiv would use any means it deems fit to recapture the peninsula. He also pledged a strong response to any Russian attacks on Independence Day.

The Ukrainian men's football Premier League has resumed. For safety reasons, the games will take place without spectators.

Calls to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians have been growing in the European Union for weeks. While states like Estonia are determined to keep vacationers out, others, like Germany, are more reluctant to do so.

Germany is prepared to ship more than €500 million ($499.3 million) in weapons in 2023 to help Ukraine fend off the ongoing Russian invasion.

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