Armoured vehicles and soldiers parade in Kiev to mark Independence Day in a defiant show of the military force Ukraine's government hopes will defeat pro-Russian separatists in the east. Rough Cut. (No Reporter Narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Armoured vehicles and soldiers, some of them hardened in battle, paraded on Kiev's main square on Sunday (August 24) to mark Independence Day in a defiant show of the military force Ukraine's government hopes will defeat pro-Russian separatists in the east. Soldiers, some of whom were due to head directly to the front in the war against the separatists, staged a marchpast before Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who told them in a speech that the war they were fighting was a war of independence that would go into the history books. Armoured vehicles armed with anti-tank weapons and machine-guns and trucks towing missile systems followed behind the columns of soldiers. Kiev's Independence Square - known locally as the 'Maidan' and which was the crucible of street protests that toppled a Moscow-backed leader and precipitated the separatist rebellions in the east - was bedecked with the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine. Many of the thousands of people who turned out in sunshine for celebrations wore traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts and blouses or wrapped the national flag around their shoulders. Programme coordinators said the 1,500 service personnel taking part included about 120 men who had already seen action on the eastern front in areas near the rebel-strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. The United Nations says more than 2,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in April in Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking east following Russia's annexation of Crimea. In recent weeks government troops have gained the upper hand against the separatists, pushing them back into their main strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. Sunday's heady mix of patriotism and militarism appeared to underscore a new confidence in the Ukrainian leadership that the war was going their way. This comes despite continuing fighting in the east. Early on Sunday, artillery bombs rained down on central Donetsk, hitting the territory of one of the city's biggest hospitals.