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Ukraine: On Unity Day, flags convey endurance, defiance

A 200 metre long Ukrainian flag unfolded at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, February 16. As Western officials warned a Russian invasion could happen as early as today, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called for a Day of Unity, with Ukrainians encouraged to raise Ukrainian flags across the country.

February 17, 2022 / 01:06 PM IST
The Ukrainian flags celebrated survival, endurance and above all, defiance. A pair of human chains grasped a blue and yellow banner along the edge of a stadium field in Kyiv, one on either side. Others clutched tiny flags individually on Wednesday, which Ukraine’s president declared a day of national unity. One made it onto an Olympic podium in China. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for displays of Ukrainian unity on a day that British and American intelligence officials had predicted might bring a Russian invasion as more than 130,000 Russian troops were massed on Ukraine’s borders. Russia has denied any plans to attack Ukraine. Zelenskyy himself tempered his call for unity with skepticism that Feb. 16 marked anything other than yet another day Ukraine faced threats from its aggressive neighbor. (Image: AP)
The Ukrainian flags celebrated survival, endurance and, above all, defiance. A pair of human chains grasped a blue and yellow banner along the edge of a stadium field in Kyiv, one on either side. Others clutched tiny flags individually on Wednesday, which Ukraine’s president declared a day of national unity. One made it onto an Olympic podium in China. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for displays of Ukrainian unity on a day that British and American intelligence officials had predicted might bring a Russian invasion as more than 130,000 Russian troops were massed on Ukraine’s borders. Russia has denied any plans to attack Ukraine. Zelenskyy himself tempered his call for unity with skepticism that Feb. 16 marked anything other than yet another day Ukraine faced threats from its aggressive neighbour. (Image: AP)
In the city of Sievierodonetsk, which was seized by pro-Russian separatists in 2014 and taken back by the Ukrainian military two months later, hundreds wore blue and yellow ribbons. The city is now a provincial center of the Luhansk region, a hub for international organizations that monitor the volatile front lines with the separatists. People carry a large Ukrainian flag marking a "day of unity" in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The flags celebrated survival, endurance and above all, defiance. One blue and yellow banner curved along the edge of a stadium field. Others were tiny handheld things. One made it on the Olympic podium. Ukraine's president declared Wednesday a day of national unity in the face of “hybrid threats.” (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In the city of Sievierodonetsk, which was seized by pro-Russian separatists in 2014 and taken back by the Ukrainian military two months later, hundreds wore blue and yellow ribbons. The city is now a provincial centre of the Luhansk region, a hub for international organisations that monitor the volatile front lines with the separatists. Here, people carry a large Ukrainian flag marking a "day of unity" in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The flags celebrated survival, endurance and, above all, defiance. One blue and yellow banner curved along the edge of a stadium field. Others were tiny handheld things. One made it on the Olympic podium. Ukraine's president declared Wednesday a day of national unity in the face of “hybrid threats". (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
In Kharkiv, a city located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, people dressed in traditional folk costumes and sang the national anthem during a solemn flag-raising ceremony. People hold Ukrainian flags as they gather to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. As Western officials warned a Russian invasion could happen as early as today, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called for a Day of Unity, with Ukrainians encouraged to raise Ukrainian flags across the country.
In Kharkiv, a city located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, people dressed in traditional folk costumes and sang the national anthem during a solemn flag-raising ceremony. Here, people hold Ukrainian flags as they gather to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Image: AP)
Ukrainian Army soldiers pose for a photo as they gather to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. As Western officials warned a Russian invasion could happen as early as today, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called for a Day of Unity, with Ukrainians encouraged to raise Ukrainian flags across the country. (Image: AP)
Ukrainian Army soldiers pose for a photo as they gather to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.  (Image: AP)
Few Ukrainians held any illusions that the threat was gone. “Russia will not leave us in peace, that’s why we have to be always ready for it,” Yuri Maistrenko, a scientist in Kyiv, said. “It did not start today, but it could tomorrow or after a month.” And so Ukrainian officials kept on preparing for a potential attack. Here, a child walks under a large Ukrainian flag carried by people marking a "day of unity" in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The flags celebrated survival, endurance and above all, defiance. (Image: AP)
Few Ukrainians held any illusions that the threat was gone. “Russia will not leave us in peace, that’s why we have to be always ready for it,” Yuri Maistrenko, a scientist in Kyiv, said. “It did not start today, but it could tomorrow or after a month.” And so Ukrainian officials kept on preparing for a potential attack. Here, a child walks under a large Ukrainian flag carried by people marking a "day of unity" in Sievierodonetsk, the Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Image: AP)
People sing the national anthem as they gather in front of the port to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. As Western officials warned a Russian invasion could happen as early as today, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called for a Day of Unity, with Ukrainians encouraged to raise Ukrainian flags across the country. (Image: AP)
People sing the national anthem as they gather in front of the port to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, February 16, 2022.  (Image: AP)
In Kyiv, city authorities gave a tour of an underground shelter beneath the main train station with a capacity for 2,000 civilians short-term and a fortified Soviet-era section for workers to keep the transit system operating during a crisis. Most of the capital’s 5,000 bomb shelters have other uses, including serving as subterranean parking garages, bars, and even a strip club. Zelenskyy helicoptered in to observe military drills near the border with Belarus and to thank the participating soldiers. He said they gave confidence for “both today and tomorrow.” Across the border, Russia and Belarus were holding their own joint military drills. “We are not afraid of any people, any enemy. We are not afraid of any dates because we will defend ourselves both on 16 February and on 17 and in March, in April and in September and in December and no matter what day and month,” the Ukrainian leader said .Here, A 200 meter long Ukrainian flag is unfolded at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.
A 200 metre long Ukrainian flag is unfolded at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, February 16, 2022. (Image: AP)
In Kyiv, city authorities gave a tour of an underground shelter beneath the main train station with a capacity for 2,000 civilians short-term and a fortified Soviet-era section for workers to keep the transit system operating during a crisis. Most of the capital’s 5,000 bomb shelters have other uses, including serving as subterranean parking garages, bars, and even a strip club. Zelenskyy helicoptered in to observe military drills near the border with Belarus and to thank the participating soldiers. He said they gave confidence for “both today and tomorrow.” Across the border, Russia and Belarus were holding their own joint military drills. “We are not afraid of any people, any enemy. We are not afraid of any dates because we will defend ourselves both on 16 February and on 17 and in March, in April and in September and in December and no matter what day and month,” the Ukrainian leader said. (Image: AP)
In Kyiv, city authorities gave a tour of an underground shelter beneath the main train station with a capacity for 2,000 civilians short-term and a fortified Soviet-era section for workers to keep the transit system operating during a crisis. Most of the capital’s 5,000 bomb shelters have other uses, including serving as subterranean parking garages, bars, and even a strip club. Zelenskyy helicoptered in to observe military drills near the border with Belarus and to thank the participating soldiers. He said they gave confidence for “both today and tomorrow". Across the border, Russia and Belarus were holding their own joint military drills. “We are not afraid of any people, any enemy. We are not afraid of any dates because we will defend ourselves both on 16 February and on 17 and in March, in April and in September and in December and no matter what day and month,” the Ukrainian leader said. (Image: AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, arrives to attend a military drill outside the city of Rivne, northern Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, centre, arrives to attend a military drill outside the city of Rivne, northern Ukraine, Wednesday, February 16, 2022. (Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
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