Ukraine is marking its 31st Independence Day from Soviet rule, together with a grim milestone of the start of the sixth month since Russia, with the help of Belarus, invaded and launched its war against Ukraine.

And, while the country attempts to mark the occasion, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy yesterday warned that the country is bracing for brutal strikes by Russia:

“Tomorrow is an important day for all of us. And that is why this day, unfortunately, is also important for our enemy. We must be aware that tomorrow hideous Russia provocations anre brutal strike are possible.”

In fact, authorities in Ukraine have banned mass gatherings in the capital of Kyiv as western and Ukrainian intelligence have warned that Russia is planning to attack the capital.

On Wednesday (today), Mr Zelenskiy told citizens that the country was “reborn” when Russia invaded, as part of an emotional speech.

Also marking the occasion, the European Commission issued a statement to say: “Ukraine already belongs in the European family. And Europe is at your side every step of the way.” Its message comes after EU awarded Ukraine, together with Moldova, candidate status for membership into the 27-nation bloc back in June, which is the beginning of a long process to eventually becoming a member.

Its message also comes against the backdrop of Ukraine pleading with EU and US officials to send over weapons. Hours ago, the US confirmed it would provide $3bn in military aid.

Last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced that the EU agreed to provide another €500 million in financial support to Ukraine’s military, bringing the total amount given by the bloc to €2.5 billion.

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