On August 24, Ukraine celebrated its independence day, the second it has marked since being invaded by Russia in February 2022.
Independence Day of Ukraine commemorates the nation’s declaration of independence in 1991, during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Since 2014, when the so-called Euromaidan protests in Ukraine toppled the previous pro-Russian government, the independence day celebrations have taken on great significance for many Ukrainians.
When Russia annexed Crimea, and Russian-backed separatists rose up in the Eastern Donbass region, military parades became part of the celebrations. In 2020 President Zelenskyy declared there would be no further such parades until the war in the Donbass was over.
With thousands now dead and wounded in the war, the celebration day has taken on very real and visceral importance. The sacrifices made by Ukraine to uphold its independence will be commemorated for decades to come, observers say.
As well as in Kyiv, celebrations took place elsewhere around the world. There are currently more than 6 million Ukrainians living mainly in the European Union as refugees, and many held gatherings to mark the day. Other EU nations made gestures of solidarity.