Ukraine marks 25th year of independence

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko adressing the nation during the celebrations of his country’s independence anniversary says Ukraine relies on its own military but still needs help from the West.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Servicemen march during Ukraine's Independence Day military parade in central Kiev, Ukraine, August 24, 2016

Ukraine celebrated its 25th year of independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) with a huge military parade on Wednesday.

Ceremonies were held amid a present-day conflict with Russia, which supports rebels in the country’s eastern territories.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko adressed the nation after the parade of army, navy and airforce units in the capital Kiev in a demonstration of the country’s military power.

Referring disparagingly to a 1994 agreement signed in Budapest by Russia, the United States and Britain, where they gave Ukraine security assurances in return for Kiev giving up its Soviet-era nuclear weapons, Poroshenko said Ukraine’s defence depended first and foremost on its own military, but still needed help from the West.

T-64 tanks drive during Ukraine's Independence Day military parade in central Kiev, Ukraine, August 24, 2016

"Our enemy is a country (Russia) which takes up a ninth of the world's land and has a military budget tens and tens of times larger than our own," Poroshenko told a large crowd of civilians and military personnel.

"From this parade, our international partners will get the message that Ukraine is able to protect itself, but needs further support."

His comments echo those of a number of Ukrainian lawmakers from across the political spectrum who have become increasingly critical of the West's failure to deter with Russia despite economic sanctions.

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev last week over the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed illegally by Russia in 2014, reached their highest level in two years after Russian forces held logistic training exercises in Crimea.

Poroshenko said that Russia has failed to subdue Ukraine, which has been at war with Russian-backed rebels in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

​ ​ Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks as Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak (2nd R) and Chief of Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces Viktor Muzhenko (R) look on during Ukraine's Independence Day military parade in central Kiev, Ukraine August 24, 201

“Looking back at more than two years of war, we can confidently say that our enemy failed to achieve a single goal – it was not able to bring Ukraine to its knees,” Poroshenko said.

Two years of conflict in the area has led to the deaths of more than 9,500 people, while 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Despite repeated requests, the country is yet to receive any military support from Western countries beyond non-lethal equipment.

But, the Ukrainian president still thanked his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, the only foreign head of state who attended the celebrations.

US President Barack Obama sent his greetings to Ukraine, saying the United States was resolute in its commitment to stand with Kiev in the face of Russian aggression.

“This day is particularly important in light of the threats posed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

TRTWorld and agencies