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Ukrainians Mark 31st Independence Day amid Fears of New Attacks



A Ukrainian national flag waves in front of the Independence Monument in the centre of Kyiv, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine August 24, 2022. Photo: REUTERS


Ukrainians revelled in a surreal display of burnt-out Russian tanks and armour laid out this week as war trophies in central Kyiv to mark the 31st anniversary of independence, but fears of fresh Russian attacks lurked behind their show of defiance.

An air raid siren perforated an eerie calm in Kyiv on the morning of Wednesday’s Independence Day following dire warnings that Russia could launch fresh attacks on major cities. Kyiv has warned Moscow of a powerful response if that happens.

The public holiday, which falls six months into Russia’s invasion, is usually marked with a military parade, but fearing attacks on mass rallies, Kyiv has banned public events in the city this year and the streets were much quieter than normal.

“I hope (the war) will end this year, so we can be joyful next spring… I’d like us to get more help, so it can end sooner and we can start living the happy life we had before the war,” said Anna Husieva, 27, a Kyiv resident.

In the run-up to the state holiday, citizens had thronged the central thoroughfare, posing for photos by the carcasses of Russian tanks and eating candy floss coloured in the yellow and blue of the national flag.

They mused at the irony of the armour display months after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, touted plans for a Russian military parade in Kyiv – until Moscow’s assault on the capital was abandoned in March.

“Putin dreamed of a parade on Khreshchatyk, well – here it is,” said Pavel Pidreza, 62, a retired Ukrainian soldier who was admiring the tanks on a stroll with his wife, Vira.

“We’re happy that our army is proving itself to be highly skilled, and is fighting like equals with an enemy that many countries feared, especially in Europe,” he added.

As they talked of national resilience, residents also spoke plainly of their grief at six months of war that has killed thousands, displaced millions and levelled whole cities.





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