Ukraine began its Independence Day celebrations in the capital of Kyiv on Saturday with a victory parade, displaying dozens of captured and destroyed Russian military vehicles down the city’s main street.
The display flies in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov said “dreamt of capturing Kyiv in 3 days.”
“The occupiers intended to hold a parade in our capital. Ok, they're here. Tons of scrap metal,” Reznikov said Saturday on Twitter.
Reznikov sent off his tweet with the final line, “Buy nicotine patches, occupants!”
What Happened: Ukrainians took to the street to see the captured Russian tanks and armored vehicles lining Khreshchatyk boulevard. Families used the war machines as backdrops for photographs, children climbed them and some were used to display the yellow and blue Ukranian flag as a sign that Russia’s plan to conquer the city ended in defeat.
The parade kicked off what was meant to be several days’ worth of celebrations leading up to Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday. The day marks Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the former Soviet Union, which took place on Aug. 24, 1991.
The celebration was hampered later on Saturday when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a warning, that Russia may be planning to put captured Ukrainian soldiers on public trial.
"Russia could try to do something particularly disgusting, particularly cruel," Zelenskyy said in a video message. Zelenskyy and other officials have warned that Russia may be planning to carry out missile strikes, and as a precaution all large gatherings in Kyiv and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, have since been banned until Friday.
Despite cancelling further events leading up to Aug. 24, the parade demonstrated Ukraine’s ongoing resistance to the Russian invasion that began almost six months ago.
“In February, Russians were planning a parade in downtown Kyiv,” the Ukranian Ministry of Defense said on Twitter. “6 months into the large-scale war the shameful display of rusty Russian metal is a reminder to all dictators how their plans may be ruined by a free and courageous nation.”
Russia's Losses: Russia's plan to quickly conquer Kyiv failed. After weeks of brutal fighting in the capital city, Putin's army completed its withdrawal from the area in early April, choosing to focus its efforts on areas in the east of Ukraine and on Crimea in the south.
Ukraine, aided by billions of dollars from its western alliances, has continued to put up strong resistance to Russia and Putin’s army has suffered massive causalities in terms of both troops and machinery.
As of Tuesday, Ukraine’s Armed Forces estimate Russia has lost 45,550 troops, 1,921 tanks, 4,238 APVs and 1,033 artilliary units.
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