Residents of Kyiv woke up to air raid sirens as Ukraine observed its Independence Day on Wednesday, six months since the start of the Russian invasion.
Authorities in the capital banned large-scale gatherings until Thursday, fearing the national holiday might bring particularly heavy Russian missile attacks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the public to be vigilant.
In a recorded speech aired on the six-month anniversary of Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, Zelenskiy said Ukraine no longer saw the war ending when the fighting stopped but when Kyiv finally emerged victorious.
"A new nation appeared in the world on Feb. 24 at 4 o'clock in the morning. It was not born, but reborn. A nation that did not cry, scream or take fright. One that did not flee. Did not give up. And did not forget," he said.
Zelenskiy underscored Ukraine's hardening war stance that opposes any kind of compromise that would allow Moscow to lock in territorial gains, including swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine captured over the past six months.
"We will not sit down at the negotiating table out of fear, with a gun pointed at our heads. For us, the most terrible iron is not missiles, aircraft and tanks, but shackles. Not trenches, but fetters," he said.
He vowed that Ukraine would recapture lost territory in the industrial Donbas region in the east as well as the peninsula of Crimea that Russia annexed in 2014.
"What for us is the end of the war? We used to say: peace. Now we say: victory," he said.
A small number of residents gathered at Kyiv's central square, where destroyed Russian tanks and mobile artillery were put on display over the weekend, and the national anthem is played every day at 7am local time.
"I can't sleep at night because of what I see and hear about what is being done in Ukraine," a retiree who identified herself only by her first name, Tetyana, said, her voice shaking with emotion. "This is not a war. It is the destruction of the Ukrainian people," she said.
Wednesday's holiday commemorates Ukraine's 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.
A car bombing outside Moscow that killed the 29-year-old daughter of right-wing Russian political theorist Alexander Dugin on Saturday heightened fears that Russia might intensify attacks on Ukraine this week.
Russian officials have blamed Ukraine for the death of Darya Dugina, a nationalist Russian TV commentator. The car bomb exploded after she had attended a patriotic festival with her father, who was widely believed to have been the intended target.
The Ukrainian government has denied any involvement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. Moscow's military encountered unexpectedly stiff Ukrainian resistance, and the six months of fighting has upended life in Ukraine and sent shock waves through the world economy.