Morning Chronicle - 'Unite and fight': Ukrainians march in face of Russia threat

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'Unite and fight': Ukrainians march in face of Russia threat
'Unite and fight': Ukrainians march in face of Russia threat

'Unite and fight': Ukrainians march in face of Russia threat

Waving flags and singing the national anthem, thousands of Ukrainians braved the winter cold to march across Kyiv on Saturday to show unity in the face of a feared Russian invasion.

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"Panic is useless. We must unite and fight for independence," said student Maria Shcherbenko, expressing a sentiment similar to that voiced by Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier in the day.

"I remain calm. I love Ukraine," she said as the sun briefly peeked through the clouds on a cold a blistery day.

Some carried signs reading "war is not the answer", while others carried banners calling on the nation to "resist".

Riven by an eight-year conflict that has claimed more than 14,000 across its Moscow-backed separatist east, Ukraine is now facing the threat of an all-out invasion by Russia.

The Kremlin has massed more than 100,000 troops around its western neighbour, staging war games across Belarus to its north and navy drills to in the Black Sea its south.

Washington has warned that war could break out "any day". Western countries are pulling their diplomats out of Kyiv and ordering citizens to immediately get out of Ukraine.

And even Kyiv, despite calls for calm from the Zelensky and a range of other leaders, has prepared a plan to evacuate the capital's three million residents, just in case.

But the people marching across Kyiv's central avenues said they had no fear.

"We are here to show that we are not afraid," said Nazar Novoselsky, who came to the march with his two little children.

"We will lay our soul and body for the cherished freedom," the crowd sang, voicing the words of the national anthem, just as they had done en masse in the months leading to Ukraine's 2014 pro-EU revolution.

The 2014 revolt provoked the Kremlin into annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and then backing an insurgency across parts of the the former Soviet republic's mostly Russian-speaking industrial east.

Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have been severely strained ever since, with that tension showing in the crowd.

"Why should Putin be telling us what to do," Natalia Savostikova, a 67-year-old doctor demanded.