Ukraine celebrates Independence Day six months after the start of the war

Kyiv, Ukraine — Residents of Kyiv woke up to the sound of air raid sirens as Ukraine marked its Independence Day on Wednesday, which also marked exactly six months since the start of the Russian military invasion.

Authorities in the capital have banned large-scale gatherings until Thursday, fearing the national holiday could bring particularly heavy Russian missile attacks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the public to be vigilant.

“Russian provocations and brutal strikes are a possibility,” Zelenskyy said in a statement. “Please strictly observe the safety rules. Please observe the curfew. Pay attention to the air sirens. Pay attention to the official announcements. And remember: we must all achieve victory together.

A small number of residents gathered in Kyiv’s central square, where destroyed Russian tanks and mobile artillery were displayed over the weekend, and the national anthem is played every day at 7 a.m. a.m., local time.

“I can’t sleep at night because of what I see and hear about what’s going on in Ukraine,” said a retiree who only identified herself by her first name, Tetyana, her voice shaking with emotion.

“This is not a war. This is the destruction of the Ukrainian people,” she said.

Wednesday’s holiday commemorates Ukraine’s 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

“Six months ago, Russia declared war on us. On February 24, all of Ukraine heard explosions and gunshots. … On February 24, we were told: you have no chance. On August 24, we say: Happy Independence Day, Ukraine! Zelenskyy said in an Independence Day post.

A car bombing outside Moscow that killed the 29-year-old daughter of right-wing Russian political theorist Alexander Dugin on Saturday has heightened fears that Russia will step up its attacks on Ukraine this week.

Russian officials have blamed Ukraine for the death of Darya Dugina, a nationalist Russian television commentator. The car bomb exploded after she attended a patriotic festival with her father, who was widely believed to be the intended target.

The Ukrainian government has denied any involvement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the dispatch of tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24. The Moscow army encountered surprisingly strong Ukrainian resistance, and the six months of fighting have upended life in Ukraine and sent shockwaves through the global economy.

As the war reached its 182nd day, there was no sign of a quick end to the conflict, which NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described on Tuesday as “a crushing war of attrition”. Russia now holds large swaths of the country’s east and south, but its gains have been slowly accumulating. Neither country has revealed how many soldiers it has lost in the six-month conflict.

The United States is expected to announce approximately $3 billion in additional aid on Wednesday to train and equip Ukrainian forces to fight in the coming years, U.S. officials said.

Officials told The Associated Press the package would fund contracts for up to three types of drones and other weapons, ammunition and equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two.

The new funding is largely aimed at helping Ukraine secure its medium-to-long-term defense posture, according to officials familiar with the matter. Previous shipments focused on Ukraine’s more immediate arms and ammunition needs and involved equipment the Pentagon already had in stock and could be shipped quickly.

Several officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid package ahead of a public announcement.

At the forefront of the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, the conflict continues. Russian forces struck several towns and villages in Donetsk province in 24 hours, killing one person and injuring two others, according to the regional administration.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region on the southern front, Russian forces again shelled the towns of Nikopol and Marhanets, damaging several buildings and injuring two people, according to Governor Valentyn Reznichenko. Russian troops also shelled the town of Zaporizhzhia, damaging several buildings and infrastructure but causing no casualties.


Varentysia reported in Pokrovsk, Ukraine. Lolita C. Baldor and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


Follow all of AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at


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