Editor’s note: Editorials are articles that present the opinion of the editorial team of the Kyiv Independent.
This Aug. 24, Ukraine is marking its most special Independence Day.
Exactly six months ago, on Feb. 24, Russia launched a full-scale invasion seeking to bring an end to Ukraine’s independence.
That winter morning, the world’s “second-strongest military power” attacked Ukraine from all sides. Missiles rained down on its cities. Enemy troops crossed the border. Planes flew paratroopers in.
For many of us who were in Ukraine in those early weeks of the invasion, it felt like the sky had fallen. There was no guarantee that tomorrow, next week, or summer would ever come. Nothing was certain beyond any given moment.
We saw that, beyond Ukraine, the world has largely counted us done.
The Western coverage of the invasion often spoke of “when” Kyiv will fall, not “if.” It was David against Goliath, and the world wasn’t expecting a miracle.
And it wasn’t a miracle. It was courage, it was power and it was the utmost desire to survive and preserve its independence, its freedom, and its future that kept Ukraine fighting.
That is why it means so much that six months later we can mark the Independence Day of Ukraine – still a free, independent country. A country that is suffering – but still standing strong against the overwhelmingly large enemy.
We are well aware of the price that has been paid for it.
On this Independence Day, our thoughts are about those who gave their lives to defend Ukraine from the invasion – the thousands of Ukrainian soldiers, police, and border guards. We also remember the countless civilians that have been killed and tortured by Russia.
Millions of Ukrainians were forced to flee the war zone and the whole 40-million population had their lives turned upside down because of a power-hungry, warmongering neighbor.
We are far from understanding the full toll of the war – we will learn that when the Ukrainian territories are liberated from Russia, the world sees the mass graves near Mariupol, and the Ukrainian government reveals the military losses.
But today, we feel especially strongly that their sacrifice has not been in vain.
Ukraine today, on its 31st Independence Day, became a very different country from Ukraine just a year ago.
Today’s Ukraine is stronger than ever. It’s more resilient than ever. And most importantly its values, ideas, and future are more concrete than ever.
The invasion may have come as a surprise due to its scale and brutality, but it is also the culmination of Russia’s brutal attempts to subjugate Ukraine and the continuation of Ukraine’s centuries-long fight for independence.
Ukraine withstood invasions, the bans on the Ukrainian language and books, a genocidal man-made famine, torture and murder of its intelligentsia, but never did Ukrainians think of giving up.
Russia’s whole history was shaped by attempting to subjugate Ukraine, and for most of its history, it failed to do so. It will fail once more.
Ukraine didn’t fall in three days, Ukraine’s capital Kyiv wasn’t occupied, and now with the help of Western weapons, Ukraine is successfully fighting off Russia.
Yet for Ukraine to win this war it did not start, it needs allies that will stay true to their promises and firm in their support.
Ukraine lacks weapons and relies on the West for support. But it's the rest of the world that relies on Ukraine to stop the aggression that will spill out of this region if it is not contained.
Ukraine’s victory will signal the defeat of the expansionist, revisionist agenda, and will put a cap on the desire of warmongering autocracies to redraw international borders. Ukraine’s victory will also give a chance for Europe’s last two autocracies to have a test drive of democracy.
Ukraine’s loss will signal the end of the established world order, and greenlight those with military might to wage war, use genocide as a weapon, and have little respect for democracy, and rule of law.
The West needs Ukraine as much as Ukraine needs the West.
Countries like Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the U.K., and the U.S., understand this simple fact. Their support to Ukraine is vital.
Yet Ukraine needs more, both from those who are already fully supporting the country, and those who have been slow in delivering promised arms.
Preserving an independent Ukraine, and delivering the final blow to imperialist, fascist Russia must be the number one goal of the democratic world.
Today, as Ukraine is celebrating its Independence Day, amid Russian bombardment of Ukrainian citizens, and occupation of nearly 20% of the country’s territory, we must be clear on what this fight is about.
Ukraine is fighting for its own independence, for its people and culture. The world needs an independent Ukraine to never see war at its doorsteps and give a chance to the world order Russia is desperately trying to destroy.
The only way to end the war is to provide Ukraine with everything it needs to win, artillery, planes, long-range rockets, training, and funds to keep the country’s economy afloat.
Supporting Ukraine is not charity, it’s a necessity. It's not only in Ukraine’s interests, but in the world’s, that Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day next year, and forever more.