U.S. President Biden marked Ukraine’s independence day Wednesday by hailing its resolve after six months of “relentless” attacks by Russian forces and said the Eastern European nation will be sovereign and prosperous for decades to come.
Mr. Biden announced nearly $3 billion in weapons and equipment support for Ukraine ahead of festivities commemorating Ukraine’s declaration of independence on Aug. 24, 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The money will help Ukraine upgrade its air defense against forces led by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who invaded in late February after comments that seemed to deny Ukraine’s right to statehood.
“Ukrainians have inspired the world with their extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom. They have stood resolute and strong in the face of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine,” Mr. Biden said. “And today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly remains – and will remain – a sovereign and independent nation.”
Russian forces failed in their early bid to take the capital, Kyiv, though there have been months of grueling fighting for territory in the eastern Donbas region. Cities have been decimated and casualties on both sides are mounting.
“I know this independence day is bittersweet for many Ukrainians as thousands have been killed or wounded, millions have been displaced from their homes, and so many others have fallen victim to Russian atrocities and attacks. But six months of relentless attacks have only strengthened Ukrainians’ pride in themselves, in their country, and in their thirty-one years of independence,” Mr. Biden said. “The United States, including proud Ukrainian-Americans, looks forward to continuing to celebrate Ukraine as a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous state for decades to come.”
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Countries around the world are rallying around Ukraine on its special day.
In the U.K., the Scots Guard Band played Ukraine’s winning entry in the Eurovision contest, “Stefania,” on Horse Guards Parade, while departing Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video message: “For however long it takes, the United Kingdom will stand with you.”
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin posted a picture of herself with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“You are brave and unyielding. We stand with you,” wrote Ms. Marin, whose nation moved to join NATO after the invasion. “We won’t look away. We won’t forget Ukraine and its people. Slava Ukraini!”