Ukraine Marks 30 years of Independence with Hopes for Closer EU and NATO Ties

World » UKRAINE | August 25, 2021, Wednesday // 23:55
Bulgaria: Ukraine Marks 30 years of Independence with Hopes for Closer EU and NATO Ties

Ukraine celebrated 30 years of independence on Tuesday (24 August) with a military parade and massive festivities in its capital Kyiv, vowing to reclaim territories annexed by Russia, in order to join NATO and the EU and escape Moscow’s stranglehold.

Around 5,000 Ukrainian troops with tanks, armoured personnel carriers, missiles, and air defence system units marched along Central Street in Kyiv, and a parade of Ukrainian Navy units took place at the Black Sea Port in Odesa.

The anniversary came amid an ongoing confrontation with Moscow, which annexed Crimea, a strategic Black Sea peninsula, in 2014 and has since been backing a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Opening the parade with an emotional speech in front of thousands gathered at Maidan Square, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a strong Ukraine is “a country that dreams ambitiously and acts decisively”.

“Such a country becomes a NATO partner with enhanced opportunities, such a country will be officially supported by others when it applies to join the EU,” Ukraine’s president said.

Earlier this year, Ukraine, which applied to join NATO in 2008, had asked the alliance to accelerate the country’s membership, saying it was the only way to end fighting with pro-Russia separatists.

However, NATO members remain reluctant to embrace Ukraine as long as it has an unresolved conflict with Russia, for fear of ratcheting up tensions with Moscow.

At the same time, Ukraine and NATO member Hungary are also at loggerheads over the right of some 150,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Transcarpathia in western Ukraine to use their native tongue, especially in education.

This has lead Budapest to block holding Ukraine-NATO Commission talks./euractiv

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