President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in an event on the occasion of the Day of Ukrainian Statehood held on Mykhailivska Square in Kyiv.
"Today we celebrate the Day of Statehood. It is the second time we celebrate it in the midst of a full-scale war. And we all strive to celebrate this day next year in our free capital, together with our heroes, but with victory. The victory that will be the beginning of a well-deserved and just peace for all our land, for all our people. It is only the victory over enslavement that gives true freedom, and the power of victory determines the firmness and duration of peace," the President emphasized in his speech.
Congratulating Ukrainians on the Day of Ukrainian Statehood and the Day of Christianization of Kyivan Rus' - Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that more than one thousand years of history of our statehood prove that Ukraine needs to win, because there is no faith that Russia will not want to return with aggression even after the Russian invaders are expelled from Ukrainian land.
"Our statehood is our response to the need for security and peace for Ukraine. The statehood that is hard to defend, but the hardest to regain if you lose it. The statehood that is never just a given, but always, every day, is the result of service and work for Ukraine," he said.
The participants observed a minute of silence in memory of all Ukrainian heroes who fought against the invaders and gave their lives for Ukraine.
The President emphasized that the war with the Russian occupiers for Ukraine's freedom and independence has defined national priorities, the first of which is defense.
"Our desire to win has determined what Ukraine will be like in the future. Strong. Free. European. A state without internal discord. A state that values its internal unity. A state not of those who believe that Ukraine should be either theirs or they do not need any Ukraine, but a state of all those who see in another Ukrainian a fellow Ukrainian. A state of those who see in our entire country, in all its diversity, their heart, open to our other people, but ready to defend against the enemy. To defend, not to run away. To fight, not to retreat. To fight for Ukraine, not to give up some part of it or its value as a pay-off," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
He emphasized that Ukraine's victory in this war will determine the national path for generations to come and confirm the values laid down a millennium ago.
"This is a choice of unity with the world. This is a choice to be a participant in world history in order to have the right to our own national history," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
According to him, Ukrainian statehood is majestic, full of emotions and history. And the line of our statehood stretches from Princes Askold and Volodymyr the Great to our warriors in combat brigades and units in the East and South of the country who are now fighting for Ukraine.
"And the line of our statehood will continue with the lives, strength and dreams of the children and grandchildren of all those millions who are fighting and working for freedom, and then their children and grandchildren and all new generations of Ukrainians who will be worthy of our heroes who are protecting and will protect Ukraine now," the Head of State emphasized.
The President expressed his belief that Ukraine and Ukrainians will not be defeated even despite the fatigue that is sometimes visible in the eyes of our people, but which will never take over Ukraine. This fatigue will only accelerate our movement towards the national goal - victory.
"Our Ukrainian state is standing firm. Our center of history. The European center of Orthodoxy, Christian values, human values. Here, on these Kyivan slopes, on our land, values always prevail. Evil is always defeated. It will always be so. We will definitely win!" Volodymyr Zelenskyy summarized.
On the occasion of the Day of Ukrainian Statehood, the President presented awards to the servicemen.
In particular, the highest award, the Gold Star Order, was received by Lieutenant Colonel Serhiy Verbytskyi, a pilot of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who was awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine. Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Serhiy Verbytskyi, as a member of the Su-24 crew, has been performing combat missions to launch air strikes against enemy armored vehicles in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Donetsk regions. His crew demonstrated high professionalism and courage. On March 22 last year, Serhiy Verbytskyi's aircraft was shot down by the enemy while performing a combat mission in Kharkiv region despite an anti-missile maneuver. The pilot managed to eject and survive.
The Gold Star was also awarded to the Hero of Ukraine, Lieutenant Mykola Choban, an artillerist of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has been participating in repelling the full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation since February 24, 2022. The artillery battery under his command has repeatedly destroyed enemy artillery batteries, tanks, and other equipment and suppressed the actions of enemy infantry units. During the enemy shelling, Mykola Choban managed to bring his artillery battery to a safe area without loss of personnel and weapons.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded the "Cross of Combat Merit" presidential decorations to Junior Sergeant of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yevhen Horokhov, Lieutenant Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vadym Korzhenko and pilot of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant Colonel Maksym Fedynskyi.
The Head of State also presented the Orders of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi of the II and III degrees, the Orders "For Courage" of the II and III degrees. Servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, the Security Service, the National Guard and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine received awards from the President.
In addition, Volodymyr Zelenskyy conferred the honorary name of "Prince Mstyslav the Brave" upon the 66th separate mechanized brigade of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The Head of State also presented the honorary decoration "For Courage and Bravery" to the 19th separate missile brigade "St. Varvara" of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 55th separate artillery brigade "Zaporizhzhia Sich" of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 1129th Bila Tserkva anti-aircraft missile regiment of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 100th separate territorial defense brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 112th separate territorial defense brigade of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 105th border guard detachment named after Prince Volodymyr the Great of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, and the 79th border guard detachment of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy handed over Ukrainian passports to 16 young Ukrainians who have reached the age of 14. Among them are children of Ukrainian defenders who are liberating our country from Russian invaders, children of heroes who gave their lives defending the state, children who were forced to leave their homes because of the threat to their lives posed by Russian occupiers.