Ukraine marks independence six months into war

STORY: Air raids tore the eerie morning quiet in Kyiv on Wednesday (August 24) to mark 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union.

It's also six months to the day since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Hulks of burnt-out Russian tanks and armored vehicles have been laid out like war trophies in the center of the capital.

Moscow calls its invasion a "special military operation" prompted by threats to its security.

Ukraine was "reborn" on that day, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a recorded speech. He vowed Ukraine would drive out Russian forces completely, recapturing occupied areas of eastern Ukraine and Russian-annexed Crimea.

"We finally became united – a new nation born on February 24 at 4 a.m.. Not born, but reborn – A nation that did not cry, scream or take fright. One that did not flee. Did not give up. And did not forget."


"The occupier believed he would parade through the centre of our capital. You can witness this 'parade' today on Khreshchatyk Street. The proof that enemy equipment can only appear in the centre of Kyiv looking like this: burnt and destroyed."

Zelenskiy has banned public celebrations this year for fear of attacks.

This was last year's Independence Day – it's an important public holiday, usually marked by a military parade and mass rallies.

Instead, quiet streets and subdued memorials, as a military guard pays tribute to those fallen in the latest war.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than a third of Ukrainians forced from their homes.

Almost 9,000 Ukrainian military personnel have lost their lives, the military says.

Russia hasn't publicized its losses but U.S. intelligence puts them at 15,000.

After it failed to seize Kyiv, Russia focused on taking eastern Ukraine.

In Kramatorsk, those who did not flee the constant bombardments said they still believed in a long-awaited Ukrainian victory.

"Everything is closed, the factories are closed, so there is no work, no income. I hope our victory over these so-called Russian "liberators" will come soon."

The war is largely at a standstill with no immediate prospect of peace talks.