President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, marked Ukraine’s Statehood Day by reaffirming the country’s sovereignty — a rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who used his claim that Ukraine didn’t exist as a nation to justify his invasion.
“Now, like more than a thousand years ago, our civilizational choice is unity with the world,” Zelenskyy said in a speech on a square outside St. Michael’s Monastery in Kyiv. “To be a power in world history. To have the right to its national history -– of its people, its land, its state. And of our children -– all future generations of the Ukrainian people. We will definitely win!”
He also honored servicemen and handed out first passports to young citizens as part of ceremonies. The holiday coincides with commemorations of the adoption of Christianity on lands that later became Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it shot down a Ukrainian missile in the city of Taganrog, about 40 kilometers (about 24 miles) east of the border with Ukraine, and local officials reported 20 people were injured, identifying the epicenter as an art museum.
Debris fell on the city, the ministry added, alleging the missile was part of a “terror attack” by Ukraine.
Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, blamed Russian air defense systems for the explosion.