UKRAINE INDEPENDENCE DAY.jpg
'Tochka-U' Tactical Operational Missile Complex vehicles roll by at Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, 24 August 2016, during a parade on the occasion of the country's Independence Day celebrations. Ukrainians mark the 25th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Photograph: EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko struck a defiant tone towards Russia on Wednesday, accusing his country's larger neighbour of vain attempts at invasion as Ukraine celebrated 25 years of independence.

"I now invite you to observe a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who died in the war unleashed by the Russian aggressor," he said at a gathering in Kiev, according to a transcript of the speech.

Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991 and, as such, under Moscow's de facto control. Efforts in recent years to tilt Ukraine towards the West have prompted divisions in the country, which Ukraine and most of the West have blamed on Russia.

Tuesday's celebration, which featured a major military parade in Kiev, came amid escalating tensions with Russia as Moscow boosts its military presence near the countries' shared border.

Poroshenko laid flowers at a war memorial in Kiev, saying "we bow our heads before this monument to heroes who have given their lives for Ukraine's peaceful future."

Ukraine has fought against pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow since early 2014, when Kiev ousted its pro-Russian president amid mass protests calling for closer ties with the West.

"Looking back over more than two years of war, it is possible to confidently say that the enemy has not been able to bring Ukraine to its knees," Poroshenko said in the speech.

"For this," he continued, "2,504 of our soldiers have died."

Poroshenko, joined by his family, also prayed for Ukraine's future in Kiev's Orthodox Christian Cathedral of Saint Sophia, according to a statement on his website.

On August 24, 1991, Ukraine's parliament adopted its Declaration of Independence, establishing the republic as separate from the disintegrating Soviet Union.

Related stories

Latest news

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish prosecutors seek arrest warrant for detained German reporter

Turkish prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who was taken into police custody 13 days ago.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump said he will present a "public security and national security budget," which will hike defence spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.

Macedonian opposition claims right to assume government

Macedonia's opposition Social Democratic (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev on Monday said that he expects to take over as prime minister because he has managed to build a majority in parliament.

EU tightens sanctions on North Korea in response to nuclear test

The European Union tightened sanctions against North Korea on Monday adding import bans and other restrictions to already tough measures in place against the reclusive regime.

Car bombing injures five soldiers in Somali capital

Five Somali soldiers were injured Monday when a car they were chasing blew up in the capital Mogadishu, security officials and witnesses said.

Israeli military confirms strikes on several Hamas outposts in Gaza

The Israeli military confirmed on Monday that it had sent fighter jets to strike several posts belonging to the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip in response to an earlier rocket attack.

Croatian FM rejects claims gov't will change abortion law, advocates dignity of LGBT persons

Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier said on Monday he absolutely rejected allegations that the government would change the abortion law, and added that he advocated the dignity of LGBT persons.