Kiev: from parade to war. Donetsk: from war to parade.

When Kiev was preparing for the military parade dedicated to the 23rd anniversary of the independence of Ukraine, many analysts and observers joked that that parade will see the last available military forces of Ukraine that would have to go to war with Donbass directly after the parade. I, for one, was caught completely off balance because that is exactly what happened. It was not a joke after all.


SS-21 “Scarab” (“Tochka-U”) ballistic missile systems parading in Kiev before being sent to war in the East Ukraine.

President Poroshenko announced that right after the parade in Kiev the column of the “new, just purchased or renovated” military equipment will go to the zone of military operation in the east of the country.

The parade was attended by 49 samples of military equipment, including multiple rocket launchers “Grad“, armored personnel carriers, air defense and missile systems “Tochka-U” (SS-21 “Scarab”).

Poroshenko also said he plans to spend about 40 billion hryvnia (about $ 3 billion) for the Ukrainian army in the years 2015-2017. “This will purchase upgrades and supply the troops with planes, helicopters, warships and boats. And this is only a modest beginning,” – the president promised among fears that the economy of Ukraine would collapse within the next couple of months.

The head of the state was repeatedly urged to abandon the event in this difficult time for the country. Activists of “Evromaydan”, in particular, talked about unreasonable charges of organizing the parade at the time when the country is waging an expensive war in the east. Former adviser to former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych, Anna Herman called the parade “inappropriate” at the time when “many of the residents of Donbass still mourn the death of their loved ones,” and “in the Donbass region there are only ruins and mourning.”

Meanwhile, in Donetsk, another kind of parade was taking place. About a hundred people introduced over a public address system as Ukrainian prisoners of war were marched through the central Lenin Square. They looked dirty and unshaven, and bowed their heads as they passed. Some had bandaged arms and heads. They were guarded by militia fighters.


Militia lady guarding the Ukrainian prisoners of war at the “parade” in Donetsk.

People in the crowd who came to watch the parade shouted “fascists!” and “killers!” Some people threw bottles at the prisoners. Two street-cleaning machines followed the column, spraying water on to the street in a gesture to indicate that the men were unclean, copying the parade in Moscow in 1944.

Earlier on Sunday, artillery shells rained down on central Donetsk, hitting one of the city’s biggest hospitals. Once the sound of shelling receded from the city centre, Donetsk residents strolled through Lenin square looking at a display of captured Ukrainian military hardware.


A collage comparing the prisoners of war parade in Moscow in 1944 with the parade in Donetsk in 2014.

A collage comparing the prisoners of war parade in Moscow in 1944 with the parade in Donetsk in 2014.

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