Russian tanks lined up as trophies in Kyiv on Ukrainian Independence Day

The captured tanks tell the story of Ukrainian resistance rather than Russian victory. Credit: AP

Ukraine has spent most of this year, its 31st year of independence, fighting to stay that way.

Six months after Russia started a war meant to end Ukraine’s freedom, the symbolism of this Independence Day is deep and profound.

The Kremlin hoped - and most of the world believed - its armoured columns would be triumphantly trundling through central Kyiv within days.

Such vehicles have finally made it into the capital, but they are defenders’ trophies, a parody of Putin’s goal.

Russian tanks lining a street in Kyiv are a symbol of the country's resistance. Credit: AP

The destroyed or captured tanks lining the main thoroughfare tell the story of Ukrainian resistance rather than Russian victory.

Ukrainians have been warned not to celebrate too blatantly. Public gatherings are prohibited because gatherings might put people in danger.

President Zelensky has said “hideous Russian provocations and brutal strikes are possible.”

The UK government has been one of Ukraine’s biggest backers. The door to 10 Downing Street has been adorned with sunflowers and hydrangeas, the yellow and blue archway depicting the Ukrainian flag.

The entrance to 10 Downing Street adorned with flowers in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Credit: AP

The PM’s office says “the UK will continue to stand with our Ukrainian friends - now and in the future.”

The solidity of Ukraine’s allies in the face of increasing energy costs is heartening, particularly in Kyiv. But European resolve is easier to maintain in balmy August than freezing December.

The Americans are going to mark this day by announcing a further $3 billion in military aid.

The UK’s assessment of the war right now concludes that the Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas “is making minimal progress.”

The MoD also believes that the Russians are suffering from shortages of munitions, vehicles and personnel. Morale is poor among many troops.


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Russia’s “diplomatic power has been diminished and its long term economic outlook is bleak. “Six months in and Russia’s war has proven both costly and strategically harmful.”

Ukraine became independent in 1991 as the Soviet Union disintegrated with a whimper. In contrast, Yugoslavia broke up with a bang.

The violent end of the Soviet era appears to have been like a post-dated cheque that is now being cashed in the form of death and destruction in Ukraine.

The independence the Kremlin sought to snuff out has survived. When Ukraine won the battles of Kyiv and Kharkiv it effectively won its war of independence.

The question now is how a big a country will sovereign Ukraine end up being.