Ukraine flexes its muscles

Ukraine flexes its muscles
Kyiv hosts the largest military parade in country’s history to mark its Independence Day. In the decade following its independence from the Soviet Union, successive presidents allowed oligarchs to gain increasing control over the economy while political repression intensified. By 2010, Ukraine’s fifty..

Kyiv hosts the largest military parade in country’s history to mark its Independence Day.

Background

In the decade following its independence from the Soviet Union, successive presidents allowed oligarchs to gain increasing control over the economy while political repression intensified. By 2010, Ukraine’s fifty richest people controlled nearly half of the country’s GDP.

Ukraine’s most prolonged and deadly crisis since its post-Soviet independence began as a protest against the government dropping plans to forge closer trade ties with the EU. It has since resulted a standoff between NATO backed western forces and Russia. The crisis is said to have stemmed from weak governance, heavy reliance on Russia and differences between Ukraine’s linguistically, religiously, and ethnically distinct eastern and western districts.

US officials say Russia’s aggression is in breach of international law, including the non-intervention provisions in the UN Charter, the 1997 Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. US showed their support to Ukraine by imposing heavy sanctions on Russia which continue till this day. They have also promised $1 billion in loan guarantees and technical assistance.

  

Read more about our extensive analysis on the Ukrainian-Russian relations, Ukrainian-NATO relations and the recent annexation of Crimea here, here and here.

Analysis

Ukraine marked 27 years of independence Friday (Aug 24) with its biggest-ever military parade in central Kiev, as war continues against Russian-backed separatists in the country's east.

Around 4,500 servicemen, including dozens of representatives of foreign allies such as the United States and Great Britain, saluted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during the demonstration.

Poroshenko used the occasion to argue for the vital role Ukraine plays in defending the borders of Europe.

Without the territorial integrity of Ukraine, "all borders in Central and Eastern Europe will be uncertain", he said.

"Russia's war against Ukraine is part of the Kremlin's plan to ruin the EU and Nato," the president added.

"I want to stress that Europe needs us, because the EU would be an incomplete project without us."

Some 250 pieces of military hardware including multiple-launch rocket systems were shown to thousands of spectators, many of them waving Ukrainian blue and yellow flags.

As part of the military show, in which last year just 70 pieces of hardware were displayed, army helicopters and jets flew over Kiev's main street.

"Glory to Ukraine!" - the controversial slogan of the pro-EU revolution that in 2014 ousted Moscow-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych - was used for the first time as the official military greeting of the Ukrainian army.

"I thank every Ukrainian for the fact that we have stood firm, not just survived, but also built up strong muscles, became stronger," Poroshenko said in broadcast remarks.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions in April 2014 following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms across the border.

Moscow has denied the allegations despite overwhelming evidence that it has been involved in the fighting and gives open political support to the rebels.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Ukraine is displaying this parade as a show-of-strength, and a clear intent of defending its territory against any external aggression. We feel that Russia’s aggression in the recent past has pushed Kyiv towards NATO, and this parade is also meant to indicate the willingness of Ukraine to use military force in protecting itself.

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