NATO Troops March in Kyiv at Independence Parade
24 August, 2017

Around two hundred servicemen from NATO countries join four thousand Ukrainian soldiers for Ukraine’s Independence Day military parade in downtown Kyiv. Representatives from Canada, Estonia, Georgia, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Romania were among the foreign military forces taking part. About one thousand soldiers fighting against the Russian invasion of Eastern Ukraine also walked the parade.

Photo credit: EPA

Around 200 servicemen from NATO countries also took part, as well as defense ministers from Alliance countries, including the Pentagon chief, James Mattis.

Photo credit: EPA

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During a speech on Maidan, President Petro Poroshenko said that the 26th year of Ukrainian independence has been “special” and “generous” for several reasons. In particular because of the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union and the introduction of the visa-free regime.

“In the 26th year of independence, we have successfully completed the struggle to ratify the Association Agreement with the European Union. In order to obstruct this process, Moscow has made more effort than ever before to break the signing of this treaty.”

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“There is a saying: dogs lie, the wind blows, but the caravan drives on. We only have one road: the broad Euro-Atlantic highway, which leads straight to EU and NATO membership,” Poroshenko said.

“Russia wants a successful Ukraine least of all. They do not accept Ukraine in any way. That is why the Kremlin ‘laboratories’ invent ‘Novorossiya’, for example, they recently proclaimed ‘Malorossiya.’"

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This year the parade will take place without the ceremonial passing of military equipment. At the same time, an exhibition of new and modernised military equipment will take place on Khreschatyk, a street in downtown Kyiv between Independence Square and European Square, in which they will present 70 weapons.

“We have no doubts that, despite all the difficulties, Ukraine will succeed. Ukrainians will be successful. Independence gave us a chance, which we cannot waste. We will look to the future and move forward,” Poroshenko added.

On August 24, 1991, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, adopted the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. In doing so, they established Ukraine as an independent state and officially broke from the Soviet Union. The act was adopted after hardline Communist Party members in Moscow failed to take control of the country from Soviet President and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The failed coup attempt, which took place from August 19-21, destabilized the Soviet Union and is widely considered the beginning of the end for both the communist party and the union as a whole.

On August 23, 1991, a group of Ukrainian parliamentarians brought the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag into the Session Hall of the Verkhovna Rada; an event that would become the official basis for National Flag Day.

The next day, parliament adopted the Act of the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine and called for a national referendum on support for the Declaration. The referendum took place on December 1, 1991, with Ukrainians voting overwhelmingly in favour of the act. This year, Ukraine celebrates the 26th anniversary of its independence.

/Translated by Sofia Fedeczko