(Photo by Valentyna Polishchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

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Ukraine commemorates its second independence day of the war


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.

Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine march through Sofia Square in Kyiv on Independence Day of Ukraine on August 24, where the military and the country’s political leadership gathered to commemorate the day.  (Photo by Valentyna Polishchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C) delivers a speech to mark Independence Day at Sophia Square. He presented awards to military personnel and civilians for their contributions to the nation. The ceremony was attended by the President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda, the President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić and the Prime Minister of Norway,Jonas Gahr Støre. (EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO)


Ukrainian servicemen attend the Independence Day celebrations. (EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO)


A female military sailor at the independence celebrations (Photo by Andriy Zhyhaylo/Obozrevatel/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

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.

A boy and a girl look at destroyed Russian tanks displayed on Khreschatyk Street during an Independence Day exhibition in Kyiv. (Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)


A girl rides her scooter past the destroyed Russian tanks EPA-EFE/CATHAL MCNAUGHTON

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.

A soldier holds a cross during a farewell ceremony at the Saint Peter and Paul Garrison Church on Ukraine’s Independence Day in Lviv, Ukraine at the funeral of three servicemen, Anatolii Marko, Illia Pelykh and Ihor Gordon died defending Ukraine during the war with Russia. (Photo by Les Kasyanov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)


Soldiers carry the Ukrainian flag and National Guard flag for the three fallen soldiers. (Photo by Les Kasyanov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)


A girl looks at the memorial of thousands of small Ukrainian flags with inscriptions of call signs and death dates of Ukrainian soldiers who perished defending Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant, installed by their relatives, on Independence Square in Kyiv. (Photo by Yevhenii Zavhorodnii /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

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.

The Motherland monument is illuminated in the Ukrainian national colours. The monument was built by the Soviets to commemorate their victory over Germany in the Second World War, but has been reappropriated as a Ukrainian national symbol. (EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO)


The Eiffel Tower is illuminated with the Ukrainian national colours to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day in Paris. (EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT)


Crowds of people, most of them Ukrainian refugees, gather to mark Ukrainian independence day in Berlin. Many held mirrors to symbolise the spiritual hole left by the deaths of Ukrainian children in the current war. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


Celebrants dressed in traditional Ukrainian clothes gather on Ukraine’s 32nd Independence Day in Rome in protest against the Russian invasion. (Photo by Stefano Montesi – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)