Day 440: Ukraine switches to marking Europe Day instead of Victory Day

Ukraine switches to marking Europe Day instead of Victory Day. Highlights from Zelenskyi’s joint press conference with Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv. The military parade in Moscow was miserable.

Ukraine switches to marking Europe Day instead of Victory Day

This year, Ukraine marks Europe Day on May 9 for the first time. Until now, Ukraine has celebrated the victory against Nazism (Victory Day over Nazism in World War II) on May 9. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday in a show of support for Ukraine as Russia held a Victory Day parade in Moscow, the most scaled-down in years.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said he had decreed that Ukraine will celebrate Europe Day on May 9.

“Today, I signed the relevant decree, and every year from tomorrow, May 9, we will commemorate our historic unity – the unity of all Europeans who destroyed Nazism and will defeat ruscism,” Zelenskyi said in his address on May 8 (formerly the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation). 

“Today, I submitted a bill to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine [the Ukrainian Parliament] proposing that May 8 be the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in the Second World War of 1939-1945,” he added.

Highlights from Zelenskyi’s joint press conference with von der Leyen in Kyiv

It is time to make a positive decision to begin talks on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, President Zelenskyi told a joint news conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv. “It’s high time to remove artificial political opacity in relations between Ukraine and the European Union. It is time for a positive decision to open negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union. Our values, security, our prosperity, peace on the continent — Europe can fully achieve that only with Ukraine,” he said.

Ukraine hopes for a positive interim assessment of its progress by the European Commission in June.

Any restrictions of Ukrainian exports are currently unacceptable, because they strengthen the potential of the aggressor, Zelenskyi said.

Ukraine calls on EU member states to refrain from making trade related decisions with no prior consultations with Ukraine. “We discussed [with the European Commission President] the situation with our agricultural exports. (…) Unfortunately, we are facing problems where [Europe] should have further stood in firm solidarity [with Ukraine]. Our neighbors’ tough, protectionist measures in times of war, do nothing but disappoint us,” Zelenskyi said.

He suggested to create an advisory group with participants representing Ukraine’s neighboring states and EU countries, to monitor trade challenges.

Ukraine expects of the EU “strong decisions” that will quickly lift all trade restrictions, if only there is “political will”. “Our talks today show that the will is there,” the President said.  

He underscored the need to impose sanctions on Russia’s nuclear sector. “We count on adoption of the 11th package of sanctions in the near future. It needs to include sanctions on the nuclear sector of the terrorist state. It will make the package proportionate to the level of threat,” Zelenskyi said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Ursula von der Leyen discussed the pace of supply of one million artillery rounds to Ukraine, an assistance measure adopted by EU members.

Miserable parade in Moscow 

The number of troops that took part in the parade in Moscow was the lowest in the past 15 years. Some 10,000 troops were supposed to participate, according to Russian news site Agentstvo, but just 8,000 were there — the lowest number since 2008. Among them, Russian military units fighting against Ukraine. Several units that paraded through Red Square last year did not show up, including the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division. Its troops were deployed to Kharkiv region last autumn as Ukraine recaptured the land.  

This Victory Day parade also involved much less equipment than last time. There were 125 pieces of equipment, the BBC Russian service said. Of the main battle tanks only the T-34 was on show, a tank model assembled about 80 years ago. Last year, around 20 tanks were involved in the parade. 

The usual fly-past above the Red Square was canceled.

Putin spoke from the Red Square, giving a weak speech full of propagandist narratives and clichés.  

Throughout his short address, Putin praised Russian troops fighting in what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, saying the country is “proud” of everyone who fights on the frontlines. He spoke of no decisions linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

Putin declared that [the West] has unleashed “a real war” against Russia. “A real war has once again been unleashed on our motherland,” he said in the speech during annual celebrations marking Russia’s World War II victory. “Western elites talk about their exceptionalism, dividing people and provoking bloody conflicts, sowing hatred, Russophobia and aggressive nationalism, destroying traditional family values.”

Putin used the Victory Day parade to launch yet another attack on the West, accusing it of holding Ukraine hostage to a coup and its anti-Russian plans. Distorting history facts, he said that the West “seems to have forgotten what the insane claims of the Nazis for world domination led to”, he went further. They have forgotten who “liberated Europe,” he added.

Youth involvement in the restoration of Ukraine. Ukraine in Flames #425

The ongoing war in Ukraine has seriously affected the situation of young people, causing interruptions in education, displacement and psychological trauma. But despite the challenges of war, many young people play an active role in emergency response by volunteering in their communities, helping to implement the humanitarian aid process, supporting internally displaced persons and vulnerable parts of the population. Watch Ukraine in flames #425 to find out about Vidnova:UA program, which is aimed at involving young people in the process of rebuilding Ukraine and normalizing life in communities affected by the war through youth exchanges.


  • Maryna Potapenko, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine
  • Olena Ursu, Democratic Governance Team Leader at UNDP Ukraine
  • Anastasiia Kuleba, Program Coordinator of the Vidnova:UA program of the “Eidos” Center
  • Artur Kadelnyk, Acting Director of the All-Ukrainian Youth Center