25 Years of Independence: Ukraine celebrates 25th Independence Day as tensions with Russia worsen - RFE/RL

14:04 Aug. 24, 2016

Ukraine celebrates 25th Independence Day as tensions with Russia worsen - RFE/RL

Ukraine's tanks parade through central Kyiv on August 24, 2016 (UNIAN photo)

Besides potentially boosting morale, the large-scale military parades have enabled Kyiv to showcase its revitalized military

Ukraine marked 25 years of independence from the Soviet Union on August 24 with a massive parade of soldiers and heavy weaponry through central Kyiv, in a show of force designed to boost the morale of the country's servicemen and reassure Ukrainians amid heightened tensions with Russia. 

Read also Ukraine sheds Soviet past on 25th year of independence 
Flanked by battle tanks, missile carriers, and other equipment, hundreds of uniformed troops marched through Independence Square in the country's largest military procession since it declared independence in 1991.

"Independence has given us democracy and freedom, the feeling of civic dignity and national unity," President Petro Poroshenko said, addressing the crowd.

Thousands of flag-waving Ukrainians dressed in traditional embroidered shirts cheered, "Glory to Ukraine!" and "Death to enemies!" -- chants popularized during the Euromaidan protests that drove a Russia backed president from power in 2014. Generals saluted from armored transport vehicles and the national anthem rang out: "The glory and the freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished."

Read also Ten facts about Ukraine

Parliament in Ukraine adopted an independence declaration on August 24, 1991, three days after the collapse of a hard-line coup attempt in Moscow that was meant to prevent the Soviet Union from falling apart. Ukrainians overwhelmingly approved independence in a December 1, 1991, referendum, and the Soviet Union ceased to exist later that month.

Independence Day celebrations have taken on a martial tone since Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and fomented separatism in eastern Ukraine, where a war that started that April has killed more than 9,500 people. Poroshenko said in his address that 2,504 Ukrainian servicemen are among the dead but that "the enemy has failed…to bring Ukraine to its knees."

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