While previous years were marked by festivities and parades, Wednesday’s revival comes exactly six months after the start of the Russian invasion of the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the day with an emotional speech that spoke of the Russian invasion as a new independence day – the day when Ukraine had to fight for its freedom, rather than just vote for it at the polls.
“A new nation appeared on February 24 at 4 a.m. It was not reborn, but reborn. A nation did not cry, did not scream, did not fear. It did not run away. It did not give up. It did not,” Zelensky said Wednesday.
He added: “Every new day is a new reason not to give up. Because after we’ve gone through so much we have no right not to reach the end. What is the end of the war for us? We used to say: Peace” and now we say: Victory.
The head of the Kyiv military administration, Major-General Mykola Zernov, said that events in the capital and other cities have been banned so that security forces can respond more efficiently to possible Russian attacks.
Instead of a military parade, wrecked and captured Russian military vehicles including tanks were placed on Kyiv’s main Khreshchatyk Street, as evidence of Moscow’s failed attempt to capture the capital in the first weeks of the war.
On the eve of Independence Day, crowds of people are seen in Khreshchatyk, inspecting the parade. Some children crawled over the tank’s rusty chassis, while others were photographed by the worn-out vehicles.
Lyubov, who asked that her last name not be published, said she had attended a “scrap metal parade” for her 8-year-old son, Ilya.
While Ilya was climbing a Russian combat vehicle, Lyubov described the show as “symbolic,” saying, “A lot of people in Kyiv (forgot) the war, so I think this is a good reminder.”
She said her husband, who is fighting on the front lines, pleaded with her to leave the capital for their summer home, 50 kilometers (31 miles) away. But she refused to go.
Even if “there were massive missile strikes on Kyiv (on Wednesday), we would not leave,” she said, explaining that she had an emergency bag at home, with enough clothes and jackets “in case of radioactive contamination…in case we are no longer so easily afraid of them.” anymore.”
“I don’t feel festive about (Independence Day), I feel sad,” she added. “Because I understand what’s going on and my husband and brother are on the front line.”
Other sightings of CNN, holding the Ukrainian flag, told CNN that she had relatives fighting against Russia.
“My father is on the front line, and a lot of my relatives are on the front line… So tomorrow is not a celebration in itself, but a tribute and a sense of independence, because this time it will look different than it did in the past 30 years,” said Daria, 35, who declined to give her last name. .
‘It’s tearing me apart’
In Khreshchatyk, Through the spoils of the Ukrainian war, several who spoke to CNN expressed concerns about a possible Russian attack on Wednesday.
“We were planning to come here tomorrow but because there are so many warnings about tomorrow, we will stay at home,” said Ole Veter, 51, as he visited the show with his wife.
“We came here to see the Scrap Metal Parade, because (the Russians) spoiled the celebration for us. Last year on Independence Day, we were here watching a parade (of Ukrainian military equipment), with planes, that was majestic and wonderful. Now, this current parade is exciting. Very impressive. He misses the pictures of those who were inside,” he said, referring to the Russian soldiers.
After six months of conflict that brought down the Ukrainian economy and disrupted nearly every part of daily life, the fatigue is palpable.
“I don’t feel festive about tomorrow, not in a festive mood,” 29-year-old Oleksiy said, explaining that he was worried about rocket fire on the capital.
“My hatred of Russians has grown to the point that it tore me apart,” said Anna, 68, who declined to reveal her surname for safety reasons.
The clinic she works for told her to work remotely for the next few days. “I worked (throughout) the war…Sometimes I go home under the bombardment,” she said.
She described Russian President Vladimir Putin as unpredictable, like “a monkey with a grenade.”
“He says one thing, he does something different and no one can guess what’s really on his mind,” she said.