Heroic Ukrainian troops,
Your Holiness and Your Beatitude,
Mister President Duda, highly-esteemed guests,
“In view of the mortal danger surrounding Ukraine in connection with the state coup in the USSR on August 19, 1991; continuing the thousand-year tradition of state development in Ukraine; proceeding from the right of the nation to self-determination in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, … the Verkhovna Rada… solemnly declares the Independence of Ukraine and the creation of an independent Ukrainian state – Ukraine”.
These are the words from the most important document in the contemporary history of Ukraine adopted 25 years ago to the day.
Thirty years earlier, Levko Lukyanenko was sentenced to death for fighting for the state independence. Later on, he was “pardoned” (in quotes) and spent a decade in Soviet jails, concentration camps and exile. However, I am sure Levko Lukyanenko could not have been happier and could not have even dreamt of getting larger compensation and award for all his life sufferings than the opportunity to draft the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine.
We enjoy an occasion to think again of the role of personality in history. Could we have used the chance we were granted at the turn of 80-ies and 90-ies, if someone else were the first person in the Ukrainian SSR, but not Leonid Kravchuk? If we had no People’s Movement of Ukraine, no People’s Rada? Unless Vyacheslav Chornovil had put his energy and displayed constancy to purpose?
Although we celebrate only the 25th anniversary of our Independence, in fact, we are far older. Next year, we shall commemorate the centenary of the Central Rada and the start of the Ukrainian national revolution of the XX century. And after that, in two years – the millennium of Yaroslav the Wise inauguration for princedom. This is the true age of “the tradition of state development” mentioned in the Act.
Therefore, declaring independence became an expected outcome of our historic development, a joint victory won by multiple generations of Ukrainians, who fought and died for our national identity, state independence and own colour on the world’s political map.
The disputes continue in university rooms, kitchens at homes and social media, whether we obtained or won our independence? The answer is absolutely obvious for me: of course, we won it. We won it by intelligence, sweat, and our blood.
May the memory of the heroes fallen in the battles for our free, independent Ukraine live forever. Eternal glory to them.
The parade crews answer to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine:
"Glory to the heroes! Glory to the heroes! Glory to the heroes!"
A quarter of a century ago, we chose our independent future. We had organized the event which Putin eventually named “the largest geopolitical catastrophe”. However, those days we did not dare to break without compromise with the past. We got lost in the arrows of the multi-vector policy trying to keep a foot in both camps. A constant lookback to Moscow and a belief in mythical brotherhood, paternalism and socialistic stereotypes firmly settled in the public conscience hampering the movement like weights on the legs.
The political elite, in general, lagged behind instead of leading the way. For a long time, they were enchained by populist electoral addiction and mercantile vested interests, while their planning horizon did not cover the time after the next election campaign.
This corporate sin has been accumulated by the elite for the two decades, and we – those who are in power now - are to redeem it before the people.
Having our twenty five years of experience, from adolescence we come to a far more responsible period of maturity.
Ukraine-EU Association Agreement is already working gradually compensating the incredible losses inflicted by the war and the economic aggression of Russia. Moscow tries to strangle us both by closing its market, and blocking transit to other countries. Against the background of unprecedented external shocks, we achieved macroeconomic stabilization and restored economic growth.
Independence already gave us democracy and liberty, sense of human dignity and national unity; taught us to defend ourselves and opened the European perspective. The middle class has been formed as well as the civil society. The first post-Soviet generation with a new European world outlook has grown up. This Maidan became the epicenter of the fundamental changes many times.
Now, we are to focus, in our strategy and tactics, on achievements in material area, on the life standards of people to add them to the positive morale and spiritual changes strengthening the latter. As Vyacheslav Chornovil said: “we need a rich, human state of free, prosperous citizens feeling confident about the future.” And “if you have confidence in yourself and took a decision, do not hesitate. Go, go, go…”
The Verkhovna Rada took a wise step in 1991 putting the independence issue to a referendum. Ernest Renan, a famous French thinker, said that the nation means an everyday plebiscite. Since the very start of Russian aggression against Ukraine in February 2014, Ukrainians have been actively voting for united, independent, unitary, democratic, European Ukraine every day.
The external threat accelerated the process of contemporary Ukrainian political nation building on the basis of civic patriotism. Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking citizens as well as the citizens speaking other languages… Ukrainians, ethnic Russians, Crimean Tatars, and other ethnic groups firmly uphold the position of Ukrainian patriotism. Shoulder to shoulder defend our state arms in hand.
The history will never forgive us, if we fail to use this moment of unity to cure forever the wounds inflicted on the society by the politicians who tried to split it artificially.
The question arises what guarantee we have that our optimistic plans won’t remain on paper or in the air. The answer is obvious. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are our main guarantor. This is far more compelling argument than the Budapest Memorandum.
Looking back to over two years of the war, we can state with certainty that the enemy failed to achieve any of its strategic objectives and failed to bring Ukraine to its knees. 2,504 servicemen perished for this.
We bow our heads to the memory of the heroes, who sacrificed their lives for peaceful future of Ukraine. I now invite you to observe a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, who died in the war unleashed by the Russian aggressor. We will never forget and forgive.
Voice over: "Dip the battle flags!". Choral singing a cappella “Plyve kacha”
From 2014 till 2016, nearly 300 thousand persons departed to the frontline via the military commissariats. The volunteers were the first, then, the mobilized soldiers, now, the soldiers under contracts. If we followed the last year’s scheme by inertia, the ninth wave of mobilization should have been at its final stage these days while, in reality, we have not yet started the seventh one. This year, my priority is to build a professional, contract-based army. An average of six thousand servicemen monthly sign contracts with the Armed Forces. A total of 45 thousand soldiers have joined the army by contracts since this January, and we expect over 20 thousand more to come by the year end. Most of them enter into long-term agreements. As of today, we have 75% contract-based army.
Military reserve building process is ongoing. So far, it numbers over 80 thousand males and females, who are well-trained soldiers possessing extensive military experience.
We have organized scheduled supply to the troops of state-of-the-art, upgraded and repaired models of arms and military equipment. Yes, our desires and needs do not always match our abilities. The gap between the needed and the affordable is rather large. We will need years and dozens billions hryvnyas to sleep peacefully. Nevertheless, right now you will see a true progress that the country has made in strengthening the national defense capability.
What is this parade to demonstrate, in my opinion? The public will see their new army created almost from scratch within the two years. The public will make sure that the Armed Forces get stronger year by year, and the national security strengthens.
Soldiers and officers will feel once again not only their social responsibility, but also the society’s respect and esteem to their defenders.
The authorities, with this parade, report where the money is spent. Our army is a true people’s army. And this is you, dear Ukrainians as taxpayers, bought these tanks, armored personnel carriers, armored infantry fighting vehicles, these anti-aircraft guns and multiple launch rocket systems.
This parade will signal to our international partners that Ukraine is capable of defending itself, but requires further support. Since our enemy is the country, which territory is equal to one ninth! of the land area on the Earth, which military budget is dozens times higher than ours.
Finally, our parade is a signal to our enemy as well. Ukrainians are ready to further fight for their independence heavily. Therefore, the agressor would better remember the wisdom recommendation of the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovskyi: “Comrade Moscovite, do not make fun of Ukraine.”
The parade will be followed by another event that is important for defending Ukraine. The ambassadors of Ukraine, real warriors on the diplomatic front, have arrived from all over the world to hold their annual meeting. Let me on behalf of the audience thank those who have been helping our army with political and diplomatic methods, doing this professionally and selflessly.
Since the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, my friend and a big friend of Ukraine, is present here, I would like to use this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to the international partners of Ukraine for their comprehensive support – diplomatic and financial one, shipments of nonlethal weapons and humanitarian assistance, for the sanctions against the agressor.
My separate greetings on the occasion of the Independence Day to Ukrainian patriots in the annexed Crimea and the occupied Donbas. My dear, we love you and try hard to have you returned to Ukraine. We are doing this by political diplomacy methods, because we care about you. This is the Kremlin who perceives your land as the theater of operations, and the region’s civilians as cannon fodder to satisfy their imperial appetite. While for us, you are ours, near and dear ones, temporarily separated from your Ukrainian family. The family which will definitely unite and meet at the festive table.
You have displayed heroism defending our native Ukrainian land.
You demonstrate examples of courage and self-sacrifice every day.
Now, you will be marching with confidence along Khreshchatyk street. Demonstrating your soldierly appearance, emanating the strength and courage, you will infuse still more belief in the combat capacity of our troops, their capability to defend the country into millions of our compatriots.
My congratulations on the 25th anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine!
Glory to the Armed Forces of Ukraine!
Glory to Ukrainian people!
Glory to Ukraine!
* * *
The parade crews: “Glory! Glory! Glory!”