Thursday, November 30, 2023

War in Ukraine: kyiv celebrates National Day without major clashes

In the end, there were few incidents – apart from a few Russian bombardments in Kharkiv, Zaporijjia and Dniepro – to punctuate this highly symbolic date of August 24, 2022, Ukrainian National Day, 31 years after its liberation from the yoke of the USSR, and just six months after the war launched by Moscow.

“A new nation appeared in the world on February 24 at 4 a.m. It was not a birth, but a rebirth. A nation that didn’t cry, scream or get scared. A nation that did not flee. Who didn’t give up. And who has not forgotten, ”assured Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday in a recorded speech in front of the monument celebrating independence in kyiv. Accompanied by his wife Olena, the leader then laid wreaths of yellow and blue flowers in front of a memorial to Ukrainian soldiers.

While the 30 years of independence were widely celebrated in 2021, the celebrations were much more measured this year. Admittedly, Ukraine has chosen to exhibit in kyiv the Russian tanks destroyed by the Ukrainian army, reminding us that the country was holding out against the Kremlin. But kyiv has decided to cancel all festivities for its national day, fearing new Russian attacks. On Wednesday morning, Volodymyr Zelensky still feared a “particularly cruel” assault by Kremlin forces. American intelligence established a similar observation, pointing to a significant risk for civilian infrastructure, and Washington had called on its nationals to leave the country.

“Ukraine will win”

Internationally, August 24 was an opportunity for many leaders to show their support for kyiv. “We support Ukraine, we are by your side and will continue to be,” said Emmanuel Macron in a video posted on Twitter. “NATO has supported Ukraine since its independence and you can continue to count on NATO for as long as it takes. Ukraine will win! “, assured the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, visited kyiv. He announced a new shipment of equipment (for 54 million pounds), including surveillance and unmanned missile systems. Vehicles for detecting sea mines will soon be delivered. The UK has committed more than £2.3bn in military and financial aid to Ukraine since the invasion began in February.

For its part, Washington used the anniversary to announce new military aid amounting to nearly $3 billion, bringing the total to date to $14 billion. “This will allow the acquisition of air defense systems, artillery systems and ammunition […] as well as speed cameras,” Joe Biden said. On Friday, the Pentagon had already announced another aid amounting to 775 million dollars.

On the ground, the situation remains tense. An upsurge in attacks has not been particularly observed, the Russian army even ensuring that it is slowing down its operations to preserve Ukrainian civilians, but explosions have sounded in several cities. It is essentially the Zaporijjia plant that is worrying. In Russian hands, the complex would serve as a warehouse for various armaments. Russia must stop its “nuclear blackmail” and leave the plant, Volodymyr Zelensky urged Wednesday in a video message broadcast Wednesday to the UN Security Council.


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