Ukraine celebrates 30 years of independence amid tensions with Russia

Ukraine celebrates 30 years of independence amid tensions with Russia

Ukraine is celebrating 30 years of independence from the Soviet Union, amid tense relations with Russia.

Ukrainian Independence Day is celebrated on 24 August each year, the date in 1991 that Ukrainian politicians declared independence days after a communist coup against Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev failed.

More than 90% of Ukrainians approved the decision in a referendum that December, when the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist.

Since then, Ukraine has passed through tumultuous periods of consolidation of its internal and foreign policies, its political institutions and a painful search for its own identity.

Independence Day has taken on more significance in the country since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and supported pro-Russian separatists in the country's east.

That conflict continues to this day, and Ukraine held the first international summit on the Crimea situation yesterday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to do “everything possible” to get back control of the peninsula so that Ukraine “becomes part of Europe”.

European Council President Charles Michel said at the summit: "I am here to reaffirm the EU's unwavering stance: we do not and will not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia.”

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the last time Ukraine existed as an independent state was from 1917 to 1920.

It followed the chaos in the aftermath of the Russian revolution and the end of the First World War.

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