Obama marks Ukraine independence day

Armoured personnel carriers drive during a military parade in Kiev on August 24, 2016 (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov) (AFP)

Washington (AFP) - President Barack Obama marked the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union Wednesday, voicing solidarity as the country struggles with the Russian annexation of territory.

"We have been reminded in recent years, Ukraine's path has not always been easy," Obama said in a written statement.

In 2014, Moscow seized Ukraine's Crimea region. A month later pro-Russian militias began seizing territory in the east of the country.

More than 9,500 people have died, two million have been forced from their homes in the fighting and Ukraine's economy badly hit.

"Today, we reaffirm that the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity," Obama said.

Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Obama has not to visited Ukraine as president.

The White House has been frustrated by Kiev's inability to stamp out corruption and form a stable government.

Obama pointedly noted that the United States would also stand with Ukrainians as they "deepen their commitment to democracy, anti-corruption, and respect for human rights."