Ukraine announces ‘invasion date’ plan
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared February 16 – when the US claimed Russia might “invade” Ukraine – a day of national unity. In a decree signed on Monday, he ordered the playing of the national anthem and display of flags and flag ribbons around the country.
“It is said that February 16 will be the day of the attack. We will make it a day of unity,”Zelensky said on Monday evening in an address to Ukrainians. “On this day, we will fly our national flags, put on blue-and-yellow ribbons and show our unity to the entire world.”
Zelensky’s comments about the date of the “invasion” – quoted by some US outlets at face value – reportedly triggered a sell-off on the US stock market and a rush on gold and crude oil, prompting the president’s office to clarify that he had said it “with irony.”
Didn’t he just say there was no sign of any attack and people should just go about their daily lives?— BW (@abcdbandit2017) February 14, 2022
By the time of the speech, Zelensky had already signed presidential decree 53/2022 on “urgent measures to consolidate Ukrainian society and strengthen its resilience in the face of growing hybrid threats.”
In the decree, he declared February 16, 2022 the Day of Unity of Ukrainians, ordering all homes and buildings to fly the Ukrainian flag and perform the national anthem at 10am. He urged citizens to wear a ribbon in the colors of the flag as well.
Zelensky vowed that Kiev will “return” both Crimea and the Donbass into Ukraine eventually, but exclusively through diplomacy and negotiations. Crimea voted to return to Russia in 2014, following a US-backed coup in Kiev that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government. The Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the east of the country also declared independence and beat back attempts by Ukraine to retake them by force.
In addition to the symbolic displays of national unity, Zelensky’s decree also announced the establishment of a state information platform, UArazom (“Ukraine Together”), to “ensure the public is informed daily about the real state of the security situation, measures taken to strengthen the state’s defense capabilities, as well as the organization of appropriate outreach work on public safety.”
The president also said on Monday that members of the military would get a 30% pay raise in March, with a 20% raise for the border service and the National Guard.