By Borys Humeniuk
THIS year Ukraine celebrates the 25th anniversary of its independence with the slogan “Ukraine. At the forefront of freedom!” because freedom was at the core of the country’s independence and a driving force of over 1000 years of struggle of Ukrainians for their motherland.
We are the people who built a progressive state of Kyiv Rus a thousand years ago when present-day Moscow did not even exist.
We are the people who overcame the Mongol invasion of the 13th century. The Ukrainian Cossack state was one of the first democracies in Europe in the Middle Ages. Regardless of the empires that for centuries divided Ukraine, our people were innovators who contributed to scientific progress, have changed fine arts, going beyond the rules and conventions around the globe.
Ukrainian writers and intellectuals were inspired by the nationalistic spirit stirring among other European peoples under other imperial governments.
Ukraine emerged as the concept of a nation, and the Ukrainians as a nationality, with the Ukrainian National Revival in the mid-18th century. Most of Ukraine fell to the Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine the Great; in 1793 right-bank Ukraine was annexed by Russia.
Russia, fearing separatism, imposed strict limits on attempts to elevate the Ukrainian language and culture, even banning its use and study.
The Revolution of Dignity has pulled Ukraine from the post-Soviet and Moscow’s orbit forever. The national uprising demonstrated that Ukraine would never agree to an archaic despotic regime, but with blood would defend Ukraine’s way as a society that profoundly, in action, values human dignity and rights, as well as international law as one of the main pillars of human civilization.
Ukrainians realised how important it is to communicate the unique identity of Ukraine in a modern way to the world when Russian post-imperial chauvinism attacked Ukraine yet again, this time launching an explicit war. War is not our choice. It’s our country that is being occupied and has been under attack for the last two years.
We are working hard to implement the provisions of the Minsk Agreements. Ukraine remains consistent in its support of the activities of the SMM and the Trilateral Contact Group.
Instead, armed provocations by the Russian hybrid forces continue unabated, leading to a sharp deterioration of the security situation in the conflict–affected areas.
The combined Russian-separatist forces violate ceasefire along the entire contact line by regular shelling and attacks on the Ukrainian positions and residential areas. As follows from the OSCE SMM reports they use a wide array of heavy weapons, including mortars, high calibre artillery and tanks.
Russia has created on Ukraine’s territory a hybrid military force 42,000 strong with at least 700 tanks, over 1,200 armoured vehicles, over 700 artillery units and 300 rocket launch systems.
Seven thousand regular Russian armed forces are being deployed in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The concentration of Russian weaponry, armaments and military forces in the temporarily occupied territories in Crimea and Donbas as well as along the Ukrainian-Russian border is a cause of particular concern.
This situation signals an imminent threat to the peace and stability not only in Ukraine but also in the entire region.
Moreover, recent Russian provocation against Ukraine in the occupied Crimea is aimed to generate new escalation of the situation on the ground and in the region in general.
It is yet another Russian pre-planned component of hybrid warfare against Ukraine. Russia is intentionally derailing Normandy talks, as well as Minsk agreements with the aim of downplaying the importance of the conflict in Ukraine, destabilising the internal situation in our country and to decrease the level of trust in the Ukrainian authorities.
Ukraine is devoted to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the de-occupation of Crimea exclusively through political and diplomatic means.
Ukrainians’ main desire now is to continue building in peace our prosperous independent Ukrainian state. As a very young state we have reached significant achievements. We are a fully-fledged state and like any other country, we will not allow any separatism, especially if it is feeding from outside and leading to the loss of territorial integrity.
The main achievement from our 25 years of independence is that the Ukrainian nation became mature, independent and able to choose its own path.
By its actions against Ukraine the Kremlin unwillingly united our people in the struggle against the aggressor. We became stronger and more consolidated.
Everyone who fought for the independence and self-determination, as well as those who sacrificed their lives for freedom in the past and today, are born to be free. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate all Ukrainian citizens and all our supporters of Ukraine in Cyprus on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine.
Borys Humeniuk is the Ambassador of Ukraine in Cyprus