Western leaders salute Ukraine on its Independence Day

Aug 23, 2022, 3:43 PM | Updated: Aug 24, 2022, 10:43 am

Ukrainians sing a national anthem as part of the celebration of Ukrainian's Independence Day in War...

Ukrainians sing a national anthem as part of the celebration of Ukrainian's Independence Day in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. A global singing of the anthem project is expected to unite Ukrainians around the world and to establish a record for simultaneous global performance of the anthem. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)

(AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)


              Ukrainians sing a national anthem as part of the celebration of Ukrainian's Independence Day in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. A global singing of the anthem project is expected to unite Ukrainians around the world and to establish a record for simultaneous global performance of the anthem. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
            
              People gather to take part in a Ukraine independence march from the Volodomyr Velacky monument to the Holodmor plaque at Edinburgh's Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday Aug. 24, 2022. European leaders are pledging unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-torn country marks its Independence Day. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
            
              A girl holds a dog and an Ukrainian flag during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
            
              A boy runs with an Ukrainian flag during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
            
              A giant Ukrainian flag is unfurled during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in the historical Grand Place of Brussels, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. European leaders are pledging unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-torn country marks its Independence Day. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
            
              A woman ties a Ukrainian flag onto the back of a wheelchair during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in the historical Grand Place of Brussels, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. European leaders are pledging unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-torn country marks its Independence Day. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
            
              Larry the Cat, Britain's Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, sits in front the flower decoration outside 10 Downing street in the national Ukrainian colours, on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              A Union Jack flag and a Ukraine flag fly over government buildings in front of the London Eye on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              A giant Ukrainian flag is unfurled during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in the historical Grand Place of Brussels, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. European leaders are pledging unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-torn country marks its Independence Day. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
            
              A woman ties a Ukrainian flag onto the back of a wheelchair during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in the historical Grand Place of Brussels, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. European leaders are pledging unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-torn country marks its Independence Day. The commemorations Wednesday coincide with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
            
              Larry the Cat, Britain's Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, sits in front the flower decoration outside 10 Downing street in the national Ukrainian colours, on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              A Union Jack flag and a Ukraine flag fly over government buildings in front of the London Eye on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              Larry the Cat, Britain's Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, sits in front the flower decoration outside 10 Downing street in the national Ukrainian colours, on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              A Union Jack flag and a Ukraine flag fly over government buildings in front of the London Eye on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              Women carry Ukrainian flags during Pope Francis' weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at The Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Pope Francis marked the sixth month start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday by denouncing the "insanity" of war, warning against the risk of nuclear "disaster" and lamenting that innocents on both sides were paying the price. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
            
              Children bring an Ukrainian national flag to Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at The Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Pope Francis marked the sixth month start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday by denouncing the "insanity" of war, warning against the risk of nuclear "disaster" and lamenting that innocents on both sides were paying the price. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
            
              Police patrol in front  of the flower decoration, outside 10 Downing street, the flowers were formed out of sunflowers in the national Ukrainian colours, on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            
              Larry the Cat, Britain's Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, sits in front of the flower decoration featuring sunflowers , outside 10 Downing street, in the national Ukrainian colours, on Ukraine Independence Day in London, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
            Blue and yellow balloons, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, decorate a child's swing ride in Mostyska, western Ukraine, on the country's Independence Day, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Wednesday's holiday commemorates Ukraine's 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the public to be vigilant for fear that Russia may mark the holiday, the six-month point in the war, by intensifying its attacks. (AP Photo/David Goldman) 
              A vendor sells blue and yellow balloons in honor of the country's National Flag Day, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, at Maidan Square in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kyiv authorities have banned mass gatherings in the capital through Thursday for fear of Russian missile attacks. Independence Day, like the six-month mark in the war, falls on Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Western leaders pledged unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-ravaged country marked its Independence Day on Wednesday, coinciding with the six-month milestone of Russia’s invasion.

Leaders paid tribute to the sacrifices and courage of the Ukrainian people, voiced their resolve to keep supplying Ukraine with weapons and reviled Moscow for its attack on the neighboring Eastern European nation.

In Britain, floral and musical tributes punctuated a show of solidarity as Ukraine commemorated its 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. The U.K. Ministry of Defense tweeted a video of the Scots Guards Band, which usually provides musical accompaniment for the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, performing Ukraine’s winning Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Stefania.”

An arch of sunflowers — Ukraine’s national flower — decorated the entrance to the British prime minister’s Downing Street office. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is soon to leave office, urged allies to keep giving Ukraine all the military, humanitarian, economic and diplomatic support it needs.

“We will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea or any other Ukrainian territory,” Johnson said in a Tuesday video address to an international summit on Russia’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Like London, Brussels also chose to dress up for the occasion. The Belgian city, which is home to the European Union’s institutions, decked itself out in the colors of the Ukrainian national flag. A giant Ukrainian flag was unfurled in the capital’s historic Grand Place.

U.S. President Joe Biden, marking the day by announcing significant new military aid to Ukraine, noted that the anniversary was “bittersweet” for many Ukrainians, as they continue to suffer but take pride in withstanding Russia’s “relentless attacks.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video posted on Twitter that “our hearts go out to those who pay for the Russian war terror with their lives day after day, who are maimed and wounded.”

“We mourn with those who have lost friends or family members, who have had to flee, have been taken from their beloved homeland or by Russian occupiers, who have lost their belongings to Russian bombs, rockets and artillery shells,” the chancellor said.

Scholz had harsh words for Russia, rebuking the Kremlin for its “backward imperialism,” and stressed that Ukraine “will drive away the dark shadow of war because it is strong and brave, because it has friends in Europe and all over the world.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a video message bookended with phrases he spoke in Ukrainian, said the defense of Ukraine meant “refusing to allow international relations to be ruled by violence and chaos.”

He said Ukraine’s Independence Day “is a day of pride. But in the place of legitimate festivities, we are thinking of the dead and the fighters today, of the courage and resilience of your people.”

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin adopted a similar tone, calling Ukrainians “brave and unyielding.” She added: “We stand with you. We won’t look away.”

Ukraine offers a lesson that “freedom and democracy will always win out over coercion and violence,” Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, said.

Pope Francis marked the half-year anniversary of the invasion by decrying the “insanity” of war and lamenting that innocents on both sides were paying the price.

The pontiff warned about the risk of nuclear disaster in Ukraine, a reference to the shelling of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhhia nuclear power plant. He also lashed out at those who were profiting from the war, especially weapons manufacturers.

Francis has stepped up his denunciations of the war, though he rarely blames Russia or President Vladimir Putin by name, evidence that the Vatican is trying to keep dialogue open with Moscow.

In Poland’s capital, Warsaw, a few dozen Ukrainians, mostly women and children, gathered before a Ukraine community center and sang the national anthem. Many were dressed in embroidered folk shirts.

Scores of people, including Portuguese politicians, attended a gathering in Lisbon, Portugal, by the city’s statue of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s preeminent poet of the 19th century and a symbol of national renaissance. In Madrid, the 18th-century Cibeles fountain, a city landmark, was due to be lit up with the Ukrainian colors after sunset.

___

Follow all of AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Washington gun restrictions...

Associated Press

Judge rejects attempt to block new Washington state gun restrictions

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request to block a new Washington state law banning the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles

1 day ago

FILE - A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference, April 28, 2015,...

Associated Press

Microsoft will pay $20M to settle U.S. charges of illegally collecting children’s data

Microsoft will pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children

1 day ago

FILE - OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman gestures while speaking at University College London as part of his ...

Associated Press

OpenAI boss ‘heartened’ by talks with world leaders over will to contain AI risks

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday he was encouraged by a desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

2 days ago

FILE - The draft of a bill that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., neg...

Associated Press

Debt deal imposes new work requirements for food aid and that frustrates many Democrats

Democrats are deeply conflicted about the debt ceiling deal, fearing damage has been done to safety net programs

3 days ago

Seattle lawyer...

Associated Press

Lawsuit alleging ex-deputy falsified arrest report settled for $250K

A lawsuit filed by a Washington oyster farmer accusing a former county deputy of falsifying an arrest report

3 days ago

Mt. Rainier death...

Associated Press

Washington man climbing Mount Rainier dies near summit

A Washington state man who was trying to summit Mount Rainier this week collapsed and died near the top of the mountain.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Western leaders salute Ukraine on its Independence Day