KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine lined up on Monday with burning Russian tank shells and combat vehicles along the central cloud of the capital, Kiev, as Ukrainians prepared to celebrate their second wartime Independence Day this week.
The national holiday, which commemorates 32 years of post-Soviet independence from Moscow on Thursday, falls exactly 18 months, 18 months after Russia launched its all-out invasion of its southern neighbor.
People walked along Khreshchatyk Street in the heart of the capital, staring at the charred shells of armored fighting vehicles and other pieces of equipment, arranged in a long line like a military parade of the dead.
Natalia Koval, a 59-year-old Kyiv resident, said she was horrified at what the prizes represented on the battlefield, but said she was confident Ukraine would eventually defeat Russia.
“Our country will celebrate,” she said. “Yes, perhaps not yet – but the moment will come, and this victory will be not only ours, but the whole world’s.”
The holiday of independence, which will be a lull due to the crushing losses of the war, comes at a critical juncture for Kiev with its counter-attack against the Russian occupation forces that are making only slow progress in the east and south of the country, quite far from Kiev, and yet they have not made any progress. Restoration of major settlements.
Ukrainian officials say their army’s advance has been hampered by Russian minefields and well-prepared defensive lines, as well as Ukraine’s lack of adequate air support.
They say the number of Ukrainians killed is a state secret, but US officials quoted by the New York Times last week estimated the number of soldiers killed during the war at about 70,000, while between 100,000 and 120,000 were wounded.
Residents of central Kiev said they liked the display of wrecked Russian equipment and hoped it would stir up fighting spirit among Ukrainians.
“I think it’s a good idea to show what our army can do … and show how bad (the Russians) are at fighting,” said Mark Omelchenko, 23.
“It is important to see such examples of our victories.”
Mykola Kaplun, a 74-year-old from the central city of Vinnytsia who was visiting his granddaughter, said he was grateful for Western support in a war he sometimes acknowledged as protracted.
“But the feeling that victory will certainly come has not changed,” he said. “And my intuition tells me that all this will end by the end of the year with our victory.”
(Reporting by Dan Belichuk and Evan Ljubicz Kerdy; Writing by Dan Belichuk; Editing by Tom Palmforth and Mark Heinrich
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