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Ukraine marks Independence Day with parade attended by NATO units

This year military hardware was not displayed during the parade

KIEV, August 24. /TASS/. Downtown Kiev played host to a military parade on occasion of the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence on Thursday and was attended for the first time by soldiers from NATO member-states.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak met the parade’s participants in an American military Hummer instead of a traditional open-top Soviet Gaz Chaika.

Some 4,500 servicemen marched down Kiev’s main thoroughfare, Khreshchatyk, which included more than 230 representatives of NATO and over 1,000 participants from the special operation in Donbass. The country’s top brass and delegations from nine countries - the US, the UK, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Montenegro, Estonia, Turkey and Moldova also attended the parade at Ukraine’s invitation.

This year military hardware was not displayed at the parade. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry instead held an exhibition of the army equipment on Khreshchatyk titled "The Power of Unbowed." Among 67 exhibits were armored self-propelled guns, tanks, armored combat vehicles and trucks. Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko said some pieces of this equipment would be sent to the Donbass operation zone shortly after the exhibition.

Addressing the crowd, Poroshenko reiterated that Kiev was on track towards integrating into the EU and NATO. "There’s only one road ahead of Ukraine now - a wide Euro-Atlantic highway, which leads to EU membership and NATO membership," the president said, recalling that Ukraine already enjoys visa-free travel to EU countries. Poroshenko said that Ukraine is continuing to reform its armed forces in line with NATO standards and traditionally pinned the blame for the Donbass conflict on Russia.

The defense chief said that 28 units of the country’s armed forces already comply with NATO standards.

Some 7,000 law enforcement officers provided Kiev with security on Thursday.