By Marcel Gascón
Kyiv, Aug 24 (EFE).- The city of Kyiv on Thursday celebrated the 32nd anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence with a new massive open-air exhibition of Russian tanks captured and damaged during the war launched by Moscow last year, trying to reestablish its dominance on the neighboring country.
Throughout the day, thousands of Ukrainians – often dressed in traditional embroidered shirts and flags wrapped around them – walked around and took photos with the tanks, mobile rocket-launchers and other military vehicles that Russia has used to attack their country since the invasion began a year and a-half ago.
“For Berdyans’k!” exclaims a child – a native of the port city next to the Sea of Azov that has been occupied by Russia – after finding the words inscribed on a completely charred tank, among messages of revenge that Ukrainians have scratched on the military vehicles on display at the Khreshchatyk street, the central boulevard of the Ukrainian capital.
On the street, where usually the Ukrainian army would hold an independence day parade – cancelled this year due to the fear of Russian strikes – the names of almost all occupied or destroyed Ukrainian cities can be seen on the vehicles.
Another inscription reads “For Irpin,” referring to a satellite town of Kyiv which had been occupied by Russian forces in the beginning of the warm before being liberated a few weeks later.
Near the mention of Dnipro – a city which has been repeatedly hit by Russian missiles – there is a graffiti that wishes the same fiery hell for Russian President Vladimir Putin that the tanks witnessed while being destroyed.
Other messages include the oft-repeated “Glory to Ukraine!” and “Death to the occupiers.”
Almost completely destroyed by the withdrawing Red Army before the Nazi advance in World War II, the Khreshchatyk street was rebuild in Stalinist neo-classical style after the allies’ victory.
Kyiv’s most iconic avenue has since then witnessed dozens of Soviet parades before Ukraine declared its independence in 1991.
Tanks of the kind that once paraded on the street have now returned at the city center in an irreparably damaged state, targeted by missiles, rockets and drones launched by a Ukraine that once was a key part of the USSR.
Ukrainian authorities have claimed that the first Russian soldiers they captured after the invasion had been wearing ceremonial uniforms and insignia that they planned to use for a victory parade in Kyiv, at a time when many – including the United States’ secret services – had predicted the city to fall within a few days.
Now, at a sidewalk of Khreshchatyk, next to the imposing Soviet-style municipal office of the city, a group of Ukrainian soldiers displayed uniforms and other effects of the captured or killed Russian soldiers and parts of the missiles and drones that Moscow has been launching at Ukraine almost every day. EFE