- Zelenskiy says Russian onslaught revived nation’s spirit
- The August 24 holiday marks the 1991 independence from the Soviet regime.
- Public celebrations canceled in Kyiv for fear of attack
- Kyiv: Russian missiles land in the west far from the front lines
- US and Britain agree to deliver more weapons to Ukraine
KYIV, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Ukraine was “reborn” when Russia invaded six months ago, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday, marking the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence vis -à-vis the Soviet Union dominated by Moscow, while he had pledged to drive out Russian forces completely. .
After days of warnings that Moscow could use Ukraine’s Independence Day to fire more missiles at major urban centers, the second-largest city of Kharkiv was under curfew, following months of bombardment frequent.
The anniversary came exactly six months after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine. Wednesday’s public celebrations were canceled, but many people marked the day by wearing embroidered shirts typical of the national costume.
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Air raid sirens sounded at least seven times in the capital Kyiv during the day, although no attacks took place.
Zelenskiy and his wife joined religious leaders for a service at Kyiv’s 11th-century Saint Sophia Cathedral and laid flowers in front of a memorial to fallen soldiers.
In a moving speech to his compatriots, Zelenskiy said Russia’s onslaught had revived the nation’s spirit.
“A new nation appeared in the world at 4 a.m. on February 24. It was not born, but reborn. A nation that did not cry, scream or fear. One that did not flee. Didn’t give up. And didn’t forget,” he said.
The 44-year-old leader, speaking in front of Kyiv’s central independence monument in his combat uniform, vowed to take back Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine as well as the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.
“We are not going to sit at the negotiating table out of fear, with a gun to the head. For us, the most terrible iron is not missiles, planes and tanks, but chains. Not the trenches, but the shackles,” he said.
In its evening update, Ukraine’s army high command said Russian air and missile strikes on military and civilian targets continued until Wednesday. “Today has been full of air raid sirens,” he said in a note without giving further details.
Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian drone in the Vinnytsia region while several Russian missiles landed in the Khmelnytskyi region, regional authorities said – both west of Kyiv and hundreds of kilometers from the lines of forehead.
No damage or casualties were reported and Reuters could not verify the accounts.
On Tuesday evening Zelenskiy warned of the possibility of “repulsive Russian provocations” and on Wednesday the Ukrainian military urged the population to take warnings of air raids seriously.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told a meeting of defense ministers in Uzbekistan that Moscow had deliberately slowed down what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties. Read more
At a UN Security Council session on Wednesday, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia reiterated Moscow’s justification for its actions in Ukraine, saying a “special operation” was needed to “denazify and demilitarize” the country. countries in order to eliminate “obvious” threats to Russian security.
Moscow’s position has been rejected by Ukraine and the West as a baseless pretext for a war of imperialist conquest.
INCREASED WESTERN SUPPORT
US President Joe Biden has announced nearly $3 billion for weapons and equipment for Ukraine in the “largest tranche of security aid from Washington to date”.
During a surprise visit to Kyiv on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also pledged additional military support worth $63.5 million, including 2,000 drones and ammunition lying around to enable the military to better track and target invading Russian forces. Read more
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Ukrainians they were an inspiration to the world. “You can count on NATO’s support. As long as it takes,” he said in a video message.
Russia has made little progress in recent months after its troops were pushed back from Kyiv in the first weeks of the war.
Ukraine’s top military intelligence official Kyrylo Budanov said on Wednesday that the Russian offensive was slowing down due to moral and physical fatigue in its ranks and Moscow’s “depleted” resource base. Read more
On the eastern front lines of the Ukrainian resistance and in devastated towns, some with deserted streets under curfew, fighters and civilians marked Ukraine’s Independence Day with words of resolution and the promise of victory. Read more
Ukraine declared independence from the disintegrating Soviet Union in August 1991 and its people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in December.
Russian forces have seized areas in the south, including the Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts, as well as large swathes of Lugansk and Donetsk provinces that include the eastern Donbass region.
The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced more than a third of Ukraine’s 41 million people from their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken the global economy, creating shortages of essential food grains and driving up prices Energy.
Advanced US missile systems appear to have helped Ukraine strike deep behind the front lines in recent months, destroying munitions dumps and command posts.
In the latest mysterious fire at a Russian military installation, Russian officials said munitions stored in the south near the border with Ukraine burned spontaneously on Tuesday.
Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, blamed hot weather for the blaze, drawing mockery from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Twitter.
“The top five causes of sudden explosions in Russia are: winter, spring, summer, autumn and smoking,” he said.
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Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Max Hunder, Andrea Shalal, Olzhas Auyezov, John Chalmers, Rami Ayyub and Reuters bureaus; written by Stephen Coates, Philippa Fletcher and Mark Heinrich; Editing by Jon Boyle, Catherine Evans, Gareth Jones and Hugh Lawson
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