Ambassador Nepop hosted the Budapest event at the MOM Park cinema, with guests watching the Ukrainian film "Call Sign 'Banderas'" and viewing a photo exhibition "Unknown War in the Centre of Europe" by Ukrainian photojournalist Oleksandr Klymenko.

The ambassador said Day of Defender is a symbolic day, connecting past and present of Ukraine, reminding about the Kozaks who defended the country centuries ago and fought for its independence, and reminding about the current fight against Russia, which has annexed Crimea and provoked a war in eastern Ukraine.

The event began with a minute of silence to honour the memory of all those defenders who had sacrificed their lives for Ukraine.

"I also would like to express my gratitude to those who fought and continue fighting now to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity and bring back peace to our soil," Ambassador Nepop said.

"At our event we have two Ukrainian military men who are now here in Hungary to receive medical care in the Military Hospital. One more is in the hospital now as he can't walk. I would like to thank them for defending us and to ask you to welcome them.

"I also would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Hungarian side – to the Minister of Defence who personally supported increasing the quota of Ukrainian wounded soldiers coming here, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and specially to the Chief of Hospital present here for supporting our soldiers and for supporting us in our fight against Russian aggression to restore territorial integrity and peace."

# Ambassador Liubov Nepop and Colonel Volodymyr Kalitynskyi

Ambassador Nepop said "Call Sign 'Banderas'" would make viewers understand better what Ukraine is going through and how the Russian hybrid war works in practice. For instance, Russians lie about ordinary Ukrainians killing their own relatives, and the enemy hides itself under the mask of being a sincere patriot. Also, professional Russian military men and representatives of special services masked themselves as local rebels, and Russian propaganda was fed to local people who then became victims of Russian bullets. Further, shelling of peaceful Ukrainian villages was organised by Russia in such a manner that its television groups were given the best places to film and then promptly streamed it, blaming Ukraine for this crime.

The ambassador said the film is not a documentary, and probably because of this it shows reality in some moments even more concentrated than a documentary could. And the photo exhibition showed real scenes of the war with real wounded and real death.

"I hope this film and exhibition will remain in your minds and your hearts and will prevent thoughts to have business as usual with Russia unless it stops its aggression against Ukraine," Ambassador Nepop said. "Please don't forget about those 14,000 Ukrainians who already lost their lives, about occupied Crimea and the occupied part of Donbass.

"We will continue defending our country and Europe, and I hope you will continue staying with us. Thank you for coming and thank you for support."

A Presidential decree, later approved by the Ukrainian parliament, established the Day of Defender as a public holiday on October 14, 2014, "in order to honour the courage and heroism of the defenders of Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity, military traditions and victories of the Ukrainian people, foster the further strengthening of patriotic spirit in society and support the initiative of the Ukrainian public". The slogan of the holiday is "Strength of the unbowed".

The day replaces Defender of the Fatherland Day, which was observed each February 23. The older holiday was seen as a Soviet holiday and no longer appropriate to celebrate given the ongoing disputes with Russia over territory in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

When US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met in New York in September, Trump casually suggested to his counterpart that he should finalise a peace agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I've heard you actually have, over the last fairly short period of time, you've really made some progress with Russia," Trump said. "I hear a lot of progress has been made. And just keep it going. Be nice to end that whole disaster."

Simple, really.


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