: Ukraine marks 75th anniversary of Nazi German invasion in WWII (photos)

13:06 Jun. 22, 2016

Ukraine marks 75th anniversary of Nazi German invasion in WWII (photos)

Ukraine marks 75th anniversary of Nazi German invasion in WWII (UNIAN Photo)

President Poroshenko lays wreath to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kyiv

On Wednesday, June 22, Ukraine marks the Day of Mourning and Commemoration of the World War Two victims.

On early June 22, 1941, Nazi troops and its allies - without an official declaration of war - launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, followed by massive strikes on military and strategic sites and cities.

Read also Ukraine in World War II (Infographics)  

Thus, Nazi Germany started nearly four years of war that killed more than 20 million Soviet citizens, including 5.5 million Ukrainian civilians and 2.5 million (some say 4 million) Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko led a memorial ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in capital Kyiv, laying a wreath in memory of World War Two victims. He was joined by other Ukrainian officials and World War Two veterans. 

BACKGROUND: The Soviet victory of Nazi Germany has become a key flashpoint in the identity conflict which has gripped Ukraine since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soviet sympathizers have traditionally adopted a hardline approach towards efforts to rehabilitate Ukrainian independence fighters who fought against both Soviet and Nazi forces during WWII, while for many Ukrainians the conflict remains above all a human tragedy.

Read also Ukraine's leader marks WWII end with a heartfelt video about Ukrainian soldiers

During WWII, Hitler prioritized the southern flank of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, making Ukraine one of the key battlefields in the global conflict.

Millions of Ukrainian perished in the conflict, while millions more were also shipped to the Third Reich as slave labour, only to be sent to Soviet Gulag camps upon their 'liberation' from Nazi captivity.

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