Parade in Kyiv: Without equipment, but with NATO military

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source :

The ceremonial units, which will take part in the parade on Independence Day on August 24, last night held the first training session at Khreshchatyk. We watched the preparation, and also found out how the current parade will be different from last year's one
15:04, 23 August 2017

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- "Strength! Glory to the heroes, death to the enemies! Always free! To the victories!"

Soldiers chant this, marching along the square. They are preparing to take part in the military parade, which will be held on August 24. After chanting, military personnel return to their initial positions - in the area of Bessarabska Square. From there, they will march towards Independence Square: in this direction everything is already as it should be at the parade, the orchestra is also ready.

Viewers, strolling on a warm summer evening on the central street of Kyiv, like the military chants. Especially when they hear "Death to the enemies!", many people applaud. Rehearsal of the parade is being filmed on mobile phones. People in military uniform are also here today. Unlike ordinary onlookers, they are worried, actively sharing their impressions: "Why they are late? Have they lost the distance?" No, everything is fine ". Involuntarily public reminds association with a football match.

The rehearsal was also visited by Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak. He traveled to the center of the capital by subway.

Despite the fact that Khreshchatyk was closed for traffic, cafes, shops worked at it, as in ordinary evenings. When the military band did not play, the music from the violin concert of Vivaldi sounded in time with the musical fountains.

In between the periods of rehearsal, the military were in a cafe, talking to their friends and relatives. A dozen guys with automatic rifles rested on the steps of the Kyiv City Administration building. Among the participants we saw many men who came to Kyiv for the first time. "Never visited this city", - said one of guys in the military uniform and asked another to photograph him on phone. Many other also photographed themselves: in groups and singly, against the backdrop of the administration, Khreshchatyk, co-workers.

They do not rest for a long time: a pleasant male voice from the loudspeakers, which are set along the entire distance of the parade (the whole Khreshchatyk), mildly reminds them of another run. And again military marching towards Bessarabka, then come back with the accompaniment of an orchestra.

One step from NATO

By the way, there’s a very important detail! Probably, this parade will be the last in Ukraine, when the military go using the so-called "Prussian step", indistinguishable from the one that the Russian troops use at the Red Square.

"The Prussian step came from the Russian tsarist times, times of admiration of Prussia, to its army, which was adopted by the Russian tsarist army, and it was preserved in the army of the Soviet Union, and now it remains in Russia. Prussian, Soviet, Russian - so it's very important to get away from this step, because the form has already been changed. And we need to go further in external elements and in fact," said Igor Romanenko,

"We are working on the question of how to get away from the Prussian step, and the Charter of the armed forces will be changed in the near future, in which the step will also be determined. Certain rituals will change. There are many proposals on how to change the military step. We will see, work in this direction is underway. At the current parade, it will remain as it is," said Major-General Oleg Gruntkovsky, the head of the Main Department of Moral and Psychological Support of the Armed Forces.

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He noted that the "Prussian step" due to its features is inconvenient for the military. As is known, during the Prussian (or as it is also called a printed step), serviceman extends his foot to such a height that it makes a practically right angle with the body. In some variants of the step, the toe of the foot can straighten up to a straight line with the shin. When making a step, the leg falls to the ground with the area of the entire foot, producing a clear sound of impact.

This step was introduced in Prussia by King Frederick the Great (1712-1786). It was used as a ceremonial step by military servicemen at military parades in the USSR and Italy in the times of Mussolini.

"At the parade you will see how the representatives of other states will march, their step will be different. The step is rather free, but it's beautiful, "said General Gruntkovsky.

It is about ceremonial groups from NATO countries, as well as from Georgia, which is on the way to join the Alliance.

"Representatives of Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Georgia and other countries will attend the parade; they will be represented by subunits and flag-bearing groups, up to 10 units in total. More than at the last year parade,” said Gruntkovsky.

He specified that foreign guests have not yet arrived in Ukraine. And when this happens, they will be placed on Ukrainian military bases, which have already been prepared for them.

The Minister of Defense specified that 10 units from different countries, 9 of which are NATO members, will take part in the parade. Also, according to him, at the invitation of the Ukrainian side, 11 heads of defense departments will arrive at the parade.

"There are several main theses in the script of the parade: Ukraine exists, it has a future and will exist. The Ukrainian people have army to protect them, "Gruntkovsky said.

Flags and uniforms of the UPR Army

A feature of the current military parade in Kyiv is that it is timed not only to the 26th anniversary of the Independence of Ukraine, but also to the centenary of the founding of the army of the Ukrainian People's Republic.

"2017 is the year of the centenary of the creation of Ukrainian People's Republic, and, of course, certain elements of tribute to this date will be on the parade," said General Gruntkovsky.

According to him, the parade will begin with the passage of two flag-bearing groups with copies of the Combat Flags of the UNR army military units. This is the flag of the 1st Ukrainian Regiment named after Bohdan Khmelnytsky. In 1917, it was created from volunteers in Kyiv. Another flag is the Third Iron Division of the UPR Army. The flag-bearing group will be formed from the members of the Honor Guard.

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"There are original flags in the museum (which they will take out at the parade), they really exist, but their condition does not allow them to stand, so their copies were created," Gruntkovsky said.

The highlight of the current military parade will be the delivery of military flags to the units that distinguished themselves in Donbas conflict. "In total,  over 30 flags will be handed by the president of Ukraine - Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak, chief of the General Staff - Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine General Viktor Muzhenko, commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Lieutenant-General Yuri Allerov, Head of the State Border Service Lieutenant-General Petro Tsigikal," Gruntkovsky said.

The planned time for the parade ceremony is 40-50 minutes.

Who will take part in the parade?

In the military parade, 25 ceremonial groups will be presented in addition to foreign units. A total of 4,500 servicemen, representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the National Guard, the State Border Guard Service, and the National Police. Up to 1,000 participants of the parade are military participated in Donbas conflict, servicemen who directly took part in the fighting in the east of Ukraine.

The ground forces will be represented combined units of the ground forces, forces of the military reserve, the National Academy of Land Forces, the Kharkiv Institute of Tank Forces, the National Technical University of Kharkiv, the Military Academy of Odessa and a separate regiment of the President of Ukraine.

"On a moral and psychological level, the staff is ready to participate in the event.There are certain shortcomings, but we will work on this, since there is nothing like the ideal, but we are striving for an ideal, in particular, about equalization, distance, the turn of the head, the step. These are such technical issues that are of great importance for professionals. We will have two more rehearsals (on Khreshchatyk street) together with the general. The places of deployment of units that participate in the parade, are also being prepared, “ added Gruntkovsky.

No military equipment at the parade

The great difference between the current military parade and last year's one is that this year there will be no mechanized passage of columns of military equipment. The equipment will be exhibited static on Khreshchatyk near the European Square. Samples will be delivered on the night of August 22.

"Already on the morning of August 23, the equipment will be in place, it will be on Khreshchatyk until the evening of the next holiday on August 24," Gruntkovsky said.

It is known that armored cars will be driven there, and caterpillar vehicles will be transported by special tractors, so they will not damage asphalt, as it was in Kyiv on previous military parade.

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