The GuardianThe Guardian

Ukraine’s independence day was always important. Now it is a matter of life and death

By Nataliya Gumenyuk

24 Aug 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

In this opinion piece Ukrainian journalist, Nataliya Gumenyuk, describes her experience of living in Kyiv during the war.

A year ago on 24 August – the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence – a new generation of pilots were leading the Ukrainian air forces flying over Independence Square in Kyiv. The fighter jet column was headed by Anton Lystopad, who was recognised as one of the country’s best pilots. He was 30 years old, born in the year of independence. Almost a year later, in August 2022, Lystopad received the Order for Courage from the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. A few days after the ceremony, he was killed in combat.

Lystopad’s story may sound almost too symbolic, but Ukrainians have become used to such tragic symbolism. Six months on from the start of the Russian invasion, with its indiscriminate bombardment of peaceful towns, the atrocities and horrors of Bucha and Mariupol, but also the solidarity, resilience and sacrifices we have experienced, everything feels sharper and deeper. The bitterness of losses and the joy of survival.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content