The official ceremony before Kiev's 'Mother Motherland' monument was attended by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and featured 500 servicemen marching past a stage after taking an oath to serve Ukraine. The modest parade also featured Ukrainian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Jordanian military orchestras, along with two British bagpipers.
Layered with red and black poppy symbology, traditionally a symbol of the British Commonwealth and the United States, military commanders' old light gray uniforms were replaced with very dark grey, nearly black attire.
The president's speech attempted, rather woefully, to reinterpret the meaning of the color red used in the celebration: "May 9 will always be a red date in the Ukrainian calendar, just as these red poppies that symbolize the remembrance of the fallen."
Explaining his government's decision to change the symbology used in the celebration almost beyond recognition, Poroshenko noted that "we will never celebrate this day under the Russian scenario again, because it provides for the cold-blooded use of Victory Day for an apology to expansionist policy…We will celebrate the Victory Day in our own frame of reference," the president noted.
This new frame of reference readily includes emphasizing the special role played by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, known for its collaboration with Nazi Germany during the Second World War, and for committing horrible war crimes against Poles, Russians and anti-fascist Ukrainians, in victory:
"Along with the leading role played by the Red Army and Soviet partisan units, a second front was established in Ukraine against the fascist invaders by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Ahead of their time, they saw Ukrainian as independent government."
The president emphasized his government's attempts to reconcile the antipodes of the Red Army and their UPA opponents. "Do you know who united them? It was their grandsons and great-grandsons -Ukrainian warriors that secured our state and defended it from Russian aggression," Poroshenko asserted. While six million Ukrainians served in the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War, UPA's ranks are believed to have numbered roughly 100,000 militia.
Армия союзников и УПА плечом к плечу.Новейшая история Украины. pic.twitter.com/rwAoitGABH— ОтецРусскойДемократи (@Mayskolpino) 7 мая 2015
"The Allied Armies and UPA shoulder to shoulder. The new history of Ukraine."
Linking the great victory in the Second World War with Ukraine's bloody civil war in the east, Poroshenko argued that the present war is a "symbol of the continuity of generations." In his words, "the soldiers who stand here today, through their faithful service and devotion to Ukraine, will increase the glory of their elders and ancestors."
Kiev Tribute Worlds Apart From Celebrations in Donetsk and Lugansk Republics
In a stark contrast to Kiev, the resource-starved but spirited populations of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics were out in full force, Soviet symbology and all.
Donetsk's parade featured 1,500 personnel, including its most famous volunteer fighters, along with 30 pieces of heavy equipment, including tanks, armored cars and artillery, decorated with the Ribbon of St. George and the red star.
Парад в честь 70-летия Дня Победы в Донецке 09 мая 2015 https://t.co/aeFLgiy8H4— Порядок и Бабай (@FPaidinfull) 9 мая 2015
Мы с дедушкой на Параде Победы в городе-герое Донецке! pic.twitter.com/VqUPTuEZlY— Константин Долгов (@dolgovstrasse) 9 мая 2015
Парад Победы в Донецке. Настоящий! Искренний. Любо-дорого смотреть. pic.twitter.com/f2IBgZnRSw— Движение Новороссия (@Novorossia_SZ) 9 мая 2015
Lugansk's parade, meanwhile, featured 800 servicemen and nearly 30 pieces of military equipment.
Смотрите "Луганск! Парад в День Победы 9 мая 2015 ЛНР" на YouTube http://t.co/HnZhQhHmKP— Тимур Алибегов (@asker4ik20) 9 мая 2015
"The 'Immortal Regiment' in Lugansk during the May 9 Victory Parade"