People carry a giant flag with colors of the Ukrainian national flag on August 24, 2014 as they march during celebrations to mark the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian "aggression" as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk paraded dozens of imprisoned government soldiers before a crowd of onlookers on August 24 in a bid to mock Kiev's Independence Day celebrations. AFP PHOTO/. AFP PHOTO/ OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK
Editor's Note: The following is the English-language translation of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's Aug. 24 Independence Day speech on Kyiv's Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
Ukrainian Petro Poroshenko led the Independence Day military parade on Aug. 24 in Kyiv. Called “We swear allegiance to you, Ukraine,” the event marked the 23rd anniversary of Ukrainian statehood following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Addressing compatriots, Poroshenko said: “Never in 23 years has this day been so majestic as today. People have never celebrated it as sincerely as today, with Ukrainian flag in every window, on every balcony. And all of it is happening despite hard times for the country”.
Poroshenko noted that developments of recent months became a real war for us though it hasn’t been declared. Probably, it will go down in history as the Patriotic War of 2014.
“The war against foreign aggression. For Ukraine, for its will, dignity and glory, for the people. For independence,” the president said.
Poroshenko emphasized that the struggle for victory has become a national movement. “I am confident that the battle for Ukraine, for independence will end up successfully for us due to the nationwide solidarity multiplied by courage and heroism of our warriors,” he stated.
He said that a new Ukrainian army has been born in the last six months of exhausting battles. The expression “defender of Motherland” has received concrete sense.
“There are a lot of battles and dates in the heroic chronicle of the Ukrainian army worthy to become the Day of Defender of the Motherland. Ukraine will never again celebrate this holiday under military-historical calendar of Russia. "We will honor defenders of our motherland, not someone else’s!” the President emphasized.
Poroshenko thanked warriors for their allegiance to the oath, service to Ukraine, its sacrificial defense and noted that he would like to bow to every Ukrainian woman “who lost a husband or a son, a grandson or a brother,” “who believes in victory and is waiting for the return of her native, best, beloved.”
Poroshenko expressed particular gratitude to volunteers. “Your help has been especially important in the first weeks of aggression when we inherited the state without army, police, special services, weapons,” he said.
“Our enemy has been training hard for a long time to attack Ukraine. And we were not prepared for such an insidious treachery,” he said.
Emphasizing that the war was not Ukraine's choice and it had been inflicted from abroad, Poroshenko noted: “Our choice is peace, implementation of the peace plan for the Donbas which I have elaborated and offered in June already. But steps towards peace cannot be unilateral and be made at the cost of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine,”
Noting that, unfortunately, Ukraine will always face a military threat, Poroshenko says that Ukraine must adjust to the new reality.
“We must always be ready to defend independence,” he said, pledging $3 billion in increased military spending through the end of 2017.
“We will manage to defend our independence, life and the security of everyone, our right to live freely on our Ukrainian land at the cost of colossal efforts of the entire nation,” Poroshenko said.