Brussels celebrates Ukraine Independence Day today

Brussels celebrates Ukraine Independence Day today
Credit: Dylan Carter/ The Brussels Times

Ukraine's capital Kyiv has banned Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday due to fears of Russian attacks against civilian targets and government infrastructure, but several European capitals, including Brussels, will celebrate with various activities.

Brussels has a busy agenda starting with a festive liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, and ending with the illumination of EU buildings and the Grand Place with the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine.

Credit: Dylan Carter/ The Brussels Times

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined in the unveiling of a huge 30-meter Ukrainian flag at the Grand Place, while the Mannekin Pis statue is also sporting Ukraine's colours. More information can be found here.

Support for Ukraine

European leaders vowed to show solidarity with the war-torn country at Tuesday's Crimea Platform summit, with many sending video messages. Poland's President Andrzej Duda attended the summit in Kyiv in person, while France's Emmanuel Macron stated that Paris will support Ukraine "for the long term," stressing that "our determination has not changed and we are ready to maintain this effort."

The event comes as support for Ukraine in Europe starts to wane, with many citizens increasingly feeling the brunt of the cost of living and energy crises. The UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for unity, saying "it has never been more important for all of us to stand together."

Manneken Pis in Ukrainian colours. Credit: Dylan Carter/ The Brussels Times

By drastically reducing gas supplies, Moscow has shown it is ready to weaponise energy exports to damage EU countries. The European Commission has warned that if Russia completely stops gas deliveries to the EU, it could result in a 2.5 percentage point hit to forecast growth in the region.

Europeans for the most part stand behind Ukraine: a recent poll shows that 70% of Germans still want Chancellor Olaf Scholz to keep supporting Ukraine, even if it leads to an uptake in energy prices.

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EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borell has called citizens to show "strategic patience" in a recent blog post. "The war will be long and the test of strength will last," he said, adding that "we have no other choice."

"Allowing Russia to prevail would mean allowing it to destroy our democracies and the very basis of the international rules-based world order."

What's on the agenda?

9:00 - 10:30 – Festive liturgy in the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula

11:00 - 11:20 – Dressing Manneken Pis in Ukrainian national costume

11:30 – Unfurling of a 30-meter flag of Ukraine on the Grand Place

12:00 - 17:30 – Picnic and concert at the Grand Hospice

12:00 - 12:15 – Gathering of guests

12:15 – Welcoming speeches

12:30 - 13:00 – Song performance by Ukrainian Plast and flash mob of children from Ukrainian schools

13.00 - 14.00 – Concert by Ukrainian band "Patsyki z Franeka"

14:00 – Performance of the National Anthem of Ukraine within the initiative to set up a world record of the most massive simultaneous performance of the Ukrainian Anthem in 50 countries worldwide

14:10 - 17:00 – Presentations of Ukrainian schools and NGOs

22:00 – Illumination of the European institutions and Grand Place with the colours of the Ukrainian flag

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