Beneath the new memorial to the 100 civilians who died during the Maidan protests in Kyiv, President Petro Poroshenko led the Independence day celebrations in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday.
It was the most emotional celebration in years, with the east of the country gripped by war, with many of the 1,500 soldiers in the march heading straight for the front afterwards. Poroshenko made a speech that unsurprisingly stood out from those given on previous occasions.
“This war was not our initiative. It was forced upon us from the outside. Our choice is peace and implementing a peaceful plan for Donbas which I suggested back in June. Ukraine values very highly the support of those who showed that they are our true friends and partners: the European Union, the United States and other states. Friends! The whole world is with us!” he proclaimed.
He added Ukraine would be “under threat for the foreseeable future”, and so he had approved a 2.2 billion euro defence spending plan over three years that would reinforce the army.
Poroshenko heads to Belarus later this week for talks with Russia, the EU and the US on how to resolve the crisis.