President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated the servicemen on the Day of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, presented state awards, battle flags, honorary ribbons and conferred honorary titles upon military units.
"Today is a special day for all of us, a special holiday of special people – brave and battle-hardened warriors. The strongest sons and daughters of Ukraine who defend the Homeland on land, in the sky, at sea, in all directions, with all their might. All this is you, our Armed Forces of Ukraine," the President emphasized in his speech.
The Head of State noted that it was a great honor for him to personally award the best defenders of Ukraine.
"To see your eyes, to see your look. This is something that speaks volumes about the war without any unnecessary words. It tells about our fighters, about their experience, about pain, about courage, about their brothers-in-arms who were taken by the war. Eyes that see war, see evil, wounds, death, but do not look away. They fight back, hold the defense, fight for the sake of Ukraine," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President emphasized that our defenders are fighting so that despair never reigns in the eyes of Ukrainians, so that Ukraine can withstand the fight against the invader, and so that our people can be freed from Russian occupation and captivity.
"We are all proud of you. The whole of Ukraine is grateful to you! And our state will do absolutely everything to ensure that all generations of the Ukrainian people always remember and honor every life of every warrior, every hero sacrificed on the battlefield for the sake of Ukraine, our freedom, our future," he said.
The audience observed a moment of silence in memory of all the heroes who died for the freedom and independence of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy wished the military fortitude and victory and presented state awards. In particular, the President handed over the Gold Star Order to the mother of the fallen Hero of Ukraine, senior soldier Serhii Bozhko, who had been defending the territorial integrity of our country since 2018. In May 2022, during an attack by the Russian occupiers in Donetsk region, Serhii Bozhko covered and defended the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, destroyed a lot of enemy equipment and manpower, but was fatally wounded himself.
The wife of Senior Lieutenant Andrii Drobilenko, who was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine, also received the Gold Star Order from the President. In October 2022, a group under the command of Andrii Drobilenko held a defensive line near Novoselivske in Luhansk region, which the enemy tried to capture with the support of heavy equipment and artillery. The Ukrainian military managed to hold their positions, but Andrii Drobilenko was mortally wounded.
The President also handed the order to the wife of Junior Sergeant Vadym Lysenkov, a fallen Hero of Ukraine. In 2022, he took part in subversive and reconnaissance operations, helped to detect and destroy the enemy, capture weapons and prisoners. Last year, in October, he took part in the assault on enemy positions in Kherson region, and in November in Bakhmut, he took part in the capture of enemy positions and evacuation of wounded Ukrainian warriors. Vadym Lysenkov died heroically during a heavy enemy shelling.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented the Gold Star Order to the Hero of Ukraine, Senior Lieutenant Andrii Doktorenko, who has been performing combat missions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions since July 2022. The platoon under his command has repeatedly repelled enemy attacks and liberated territories.
The Order was presented by the Head of State to combat medic, Junior Sergeant Bohdan Mahalias, who is taking part in repelling Russian aggression in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Bohdan Mahalias evacuated wounded servicemen from the battlefield under heavy enemy fire and provided them with first aid. During the evacuation, the medic personally repeatedly engaged in a firefight with the enemy. In December 2022, Bohdan Mahalias sustained a concussion and a light shrapnel wound, but refused hospitalization and continued to perform tasks side by side with his brothers-in-arms.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also presented the President's Cross of Military Merit to Soldier Vasyl Abramiuk, Major Kyrylo Veres and Pilot Captain Anatolii Kurnosov.
In order to recognize the high professionalism, combat merits, courage and bravery of the personnel of military units, the President presented battle flags to the 63rd separate mechanized brigade of the Ground Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 38th separate marine brigade of the Navy Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and the 14th anti-aircraft missile regiment of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In addition, the presidential decoration "For Courage and Bravery" was awarded to: the 110th separate mechanized brigade named after General-Corporal Marko Bezruchko of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the 164th radio engineering Slobidska brigade of the Air Force of Ukraine and the 91st separate Okhtyrka support regiment of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The Head of State also conferred honorary titles. The 10th separate mountain assault brigade of the Ground Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was conferred the honorary title "Edelweiss" and the 145th separate repair and restoration regiment of the Logistics Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was conferred the honorary title "Mykolaiv".
Chief of Staff, Deputy Commander of the Air Command "East" of the Air Force of Ukraine Vadym Labunets, Deputy Commander of the Air Command "West" of the Air Force of Ukraine Serhiy Ryabko, Head of the Institute of Aviation and Air Defense of the National Defense University of Ukraine Anatoliy Saliy and others were promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
The award ceremony, which took place at the Mariyinsky Palace, was also attended by Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny, Chief of the General Staff Serhiy Shaptala, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov, First Deputy Minister of Defense Oleksandr Pavliuk, Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Roman Mashovets.