Ukraine's Independence Day, which on Wednesday marked the 31st anniversary of when the country voted to break with the Soviet Union, was a more somber affair this year, with officials attending memorials. The day was darkened by a missile strike on an eastern Ukrainian train station which killed at least 22 people — fulfilling warnings by Ukrainian officials.
While previous years have been marked by celebrations and parades, Wednesday's commemoration came exactly six months after Russia's invasion of the country began.
President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the day with an emotional address that spoke of the Russian invasion as a new independence day — the day Ukraine had to fight for its freedom, rather than simply voting for it at the ballot box.
"A new nation emerged on Feb. 24 at 4 a.m. Not born, but reborn. A nation that didn't cry, didn't scream, didn't get scared. Didn't run away. Didn't give up. Didn't forget," Zelensky said Wednesday.
"Every new day is a new reason not to give up. Because, having 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. Now we say: Victory."
Across the country, Ukrainians paid tribute to those who have been killed in military action since the invasion began. Foreign leaders, such as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also visited Kyiv.
In the capital, Zelensky and first lady Olena Zelenska visited the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine. In the Western city of Lviv, visibly emotional family members of fallen soldiers attended a ceremony at the memorial, the Field of Mars.
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