Marking Independence Day, Ukraine's president vows to defeat Russian terrorist

President Petro Poroshenko vowed Monday to deploy thousands more troops and
hundreds of new armored vehicles, and warned Russia-backed separatists that
they will be defeated in their quest to divide Ukraine from its Western allies.

<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
color:#333333">At a military parade marking 24 years since Ukraine declared
independence from the Soviet Union, Poroshenko claimed Russia has amassed
50,000 troops on Ukraine's eastern border and has an additional 9,000 aiding
the rebels from within the two enclaves held by the separatists.

"We must get through the 25th year of independence as if on brittle
ice. We must understand that the smallest misstep could be fatal," the
president and confectionary magnate told a crowd of thousands gathered at
central Kiev's Independence Square. "The war for independence is still
ongoing.”The vast
square was the scene of a three-month rebellion that began in December 2013 and
led to the flight into Russian exile by former President Viktor Yanukovich, who
angered Western-oriented Ukrainians with his effort to derail a trade and
political agreement with the European Union.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:"Georgia","serif";
color:#333333">The departure of Yanukovich, a reliable ally of Russian
President Vladimir Putin, spurred Russia's seizure and annexation of Ukraine's
Crimea peninsula in early 2014 and encouraged the Kremlin-backed separatists in
eastern Ukraine to rise up against Kiev forces in April of last year. Since
then, nearly 7,000 people -- many of them civilians -- have died in the
fighting, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates.

<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">Poroshenko joined the Independence Day crowd
in a moment of silence in memory of the more than 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers who
have lost their lives in the 16-month-old war.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">He expressed commitment to a European-brokered
peace plan signed on Feb. 12, and credited the deal with significantly slowing
the death toll over the last six months.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">Fighting has flared this month, however, with
nine people killed on a single day last week, according to the Ukraine Crisis
Media Center.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">The Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe, a 57-nation alliance that has hundreds of monitors deployed
throughout Ukraine, has recorded dozens of cease-fire violations in recent
days. The monitors also noted in their daily report on Saturday the
disappearance of heavy guns and tanks that had been surrendered to
OSCE-monitored armories this past spring under the terms of the peace plan.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">Poroshenko also addressed soldiers at an
airfield near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, which has been the target
of separatist aggression since the war began but has remained under government
control. He said thousands more troops would be deployed to defeat
"Russian aggression" and that Ukraine would be providing those
fighters with more and better equipment.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">"By the end of the year, we will provide
the armed forces with 300 armored vehicles, 400 cars, 30,000 missiles and ammunition
and over 3,000 small arms," Poroshenko said, according to the Ukrinform
news agency.<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">Poroshenko later flew to Berlin to meet with
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to
discuss ways to shore up the Feb. 12 peace plan, known as the Minsk agreement
as it was forged in the Belarus capital with the European leaders' mediation.

<span style="font-size:13.5pt;font-family:
"Georgia","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#333333">Putin, who was also a party to the Minsk
accord, wasn't invited to the Berlin meeting, Russia's Sputnik news agency
said. It cited unidentified European media and officials as calling the Kremlin
leader's omission "a huge mistake."