• Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said Russia's war united Europe and the rest of the world.
  • His remarks came on Ukraine's Independence Day and the unprovoked war's six-month anniversary. 
  • To mark the occasions, President Biden announced a $2.98 billion security package for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia's six-month-long invasion of the eastern European country has "changed" history and the world as Ukraine on Wednesday celebrates its Independence Day under the ongoing shadow of war.

"Yesterday the world was not united," Zelenskyy said in a speech marking the occasion. "Ukraine has changed this in six months."

"Someone said: Europe is no longer a player. Weak, disunited, passive, sleepy. Ukraine invigorated the whole continent," he added. "Europe takes to the squares. Europe introduces tough sanctions. Europe unanimously recognizes that Ukraine is a future member of the European Union."

Zelenskyy remarks pay tribute to the ways that Western states have stepped up to support Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression — moves that, in some cases, carried historic geopolitical ramifications.

To counter Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression, the European Union has accepted Ukraine as a candidate country to join the bloc, the NATO military alliance is on the cusp of enlargement, and states continue to slap crippling sanctions on Russia.   

"Never before in the world has public opinion had such an influence on politicians," Zelenskyy said. "Today, people dictate trends and rules of behavior to the authorities. Being indifferent, inactive, and slow is a shame."

His speech comes as Ukraine observes exactly six months since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion, when Putin's forces — and much of Western intelligence — expected that Kyiv would topple within days. The war has since turned into a bloody and slow-moving campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine, turning cities to rubble and killing thousands of people.  

"The enemy thought we would greet him with flowers and champagne. Instead, he received wreaths and Molotov cocktails," Zelenskyy said in his remarks.

Zelenskyy also paid tribute on Wednesday to fallen Ukrainian soldiers, as the country commemorated its Independence Day amid fresh warnings of Russian attacks. 

To mark the double-barreled occasions, President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a $2.98 billion security package for Ukraine — the largest during the war so far — to "ensure" that Ukraine can "defend itself over the long term." 

The announcement did not go into specifics, though it said the aid package will allow Ukraine to obtain air defense systems, drones, radars, artillery systems, and munitions. 

"Today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly remains — and will remain — a sovereign and independent nation," Biden said.  

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dit artikel is oorspronkelijk verschenen op z24.nl