As Ukraine celebrated its 23rd year of independence from Russia, President Petro Poroshenko unveiled its plans to boost its military force amid the threat of growing pro-Russian rebellion.
In his speech, Poroshenko pledged to spend 40 billion hryvnia ($3 billion) more for the Ukrainian military until 2017 to fight the insurgency in the eastern part of the country, the Associated Press reported.
This constitutes an additional 50 percent on top of the $1.5-billion projected spending to the military this year.
“Events of the last months have become–though undeclared–real war,” Poroshenko said.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”–Pres. Petro Poroshenko”]
It is clear that in the foreseeable future there will always, unfortunately, be the threat of war. And we not only have to learn to live with that. We must always be prepared to defend our independence.
Tanks, missile launching vehicles, armored vans, and soldiers corps paraded through Kiev on Sunday–reminiscent of Soviet-era military displays. Many of these can soon be seen at the battlefield in rebel-controlled territories like the Luhansk and Donetsk region, CNN reported.
Poroshenko delivered his speech from Kiev’s Independence Square, the Maidan, where several protests that toppled his pro-Russian predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, happened.
But additional funding could be difficult because of Ukraine’s struggling economy, including decreasing salaries and weak currency exchange.
Donations to the military from Ukraine’s richest and supporters helped in making ends meet, while the U.S. pledged some military equipment like night-vision goggles and vests.
The U.N. estimates that more than 2,000 people have been killed and almost 5,000 have been wounded in eastern Ukraine since the fighting broke out mid-April.