RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and NPUN.
President Petro Poroshenko has marked Ukraine’s Independence Day by announcing at a military parade in Kyiv that his country “has cut all ties with the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.”
Poroshenko also said during the August 24 event that Ukraine needs to cut all ties with the Russian Orthodox Church “that blesses” Russia’s “hybrid war against Ukraine.”
“Our generation’s major goal is to make our independence irreversible, to turn Ukraine into a strong and great country without the possibility of returning to the zone of Russian influence,” Poroshenko said.
“The issue [of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s split from the Russian Orthodox Church] is of the same importance as such issues as strengthening of our army, defending our language, our struggle to join the European Union and NATO,” he said. “That is another aim of our historic path, a significant component of our independence.”
A group of Canadian, American and British journalists, aid workers and other expats, along with NP-UN’s own correspondent, viewing the event from a restaurant overlooking Khreshchatyk Street, where the parade was held, noted that this was the best speech they ever heard Poroshenko make.
Some 4,500 soldiers, 250 military vehicles, and 18 units comprised of 300 foreign troops took part in the parade, which also featured women who are in Ukraine’s military forces. Canada’s Operation Unifier contingent consisted of 30 soldiers.
Dispensing with a traditional Soviet-era military greeting used in previous years, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak greeted the marching troops by declaring, “Glory to Ukraine!” The troops replied: “Glory to the heroes!”
Poltorak’s greeting had been used by Ukrainian nationalist troops who fought for Ukraine’s independence during World War II.
Poroshenko announced that he will propose that parliament pass legislation to make the expression the official military greeting in Ukraine.
At 6:00 pm Kyiv time, the Veriyovka Choir led a synchronized Prayer for Ukraine (Mykola Lysenko’s “Bozhe, velykyi, yedynyi”) that was held across Ukraine and in 90 cities around the world. In Edmonton, that prayer was held at St. George’s Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
In Ottawa, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress extended “warm greetings to all those celebrating the 27th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence!”
“Twenty-seven years ago, the valiant centuries-long struggle of generations of Ukrainian Patriots culminated in the Declaration of Ukraine’s Independence. On August 24, 1991, Ukraine’s Parliament, exercising the inviolable right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination, declared Ukraine an indivisible, democratic, independent State.
“Today, the Ukrainian people must again take up arms in defence of their country. Russia wages a war of aggression against Ukraine, and seeks, once again, to subjugate Ukraine to Moscow’s tyranny.
“The Ukrainian people have answered the call to defend their homeland with determination, courage and honour. Today, the Free World is defended from the menace of despotism by the brave soldiers who fight under the Ukrainian Flag. Today, blue and yellow are the colours of freedom. Secure in the knowledge that justice always triumphs over evil, we are certain that the Ukrainian people will be victorious in their righteous struggle.
Today, as we mark the anniversary of Ukraine’s liberation from foreign subjugation, we honour the memory of the heroic Ukrainians who have fallen in defence of Ukraine’s freedom. We ask God to protect Ukraine’s daughters and sons who today valiantly defend that freedom against a ruthless enemy. And we pray that peace soon returns to Ukraine,” stated the UCC’s release.