In central Kyiv, memorial plaques commemorating the fallen protesters during the 2014 revolution are now joined by endless fields of Ukrainian flags in remembrance of fallen soldiers who died defending Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russia, as Ukraine continues its long and bloody march for freedom – and dignity.

“The first victory in today’s war took place. A victory against indifference. A victory of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity,” said President Zelensky in a statement Tuesday that marked the ten-year anniversary of the Euromaidan protests, which would lead to the Revolution of Dignity.

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya also congratulated Ukraine upon the anniversary, calling Ukraine’s struggle “a beacon of hope for democracies worldwide” as her country, Ukraine’s northern neighbor, continues to be ruled by an authoritarian regime often known as the “last dictatorship in Europe.”

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The chain of events started ten years ago today when Ukrainians rallied against then-president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to back out of an EU Association Agreement against the people’s will, instead opting for a deal with Russia that would benefit him and his associates.

The EU Association Agreement included multiple aspects of partnerships between Ukraine and the EU that extend from political cooperation to trade relationships, and it would be a major step in establishing trade between Ukraine and the EU.

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However, Russia was strongly opposed to the agreement as it would harm its interests in Ukraine. In return, Russia reportedly offered $15 billion worth of loans to Ukraine after the protests started, with discounted Russian gas supplies.

Yanukovych has been known for his ties to Russia, which led to substantial speculations that he chose the Russian deal for personal gain after a private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Many Ukrainians also saw Yanukovych’s backing out as an act of manipulation since he professed to be a major proponent of the EU deal before withdrawing, and they believed that he did so for his own interests and used Ukraine’s future as a bargaining chip.

The protest was started by university students with a pro-EU stance. It soon spread across the nation, with the majority of protests taking place in Kyiv, the capital, and Lviv, Ukraine’s biggest city in the west.

What followed was a series of protests that turned violent when riot police cracked down on the protesters. First rubber bullets, then tear gas, then live rounds.

In the end, more than 100 protesters died in the central square of Kyiv in a bloody revolution that culminated in the limitation of presidential power through the restoration of Ukraine’s 2004 Constitution and the fleeing of Yanukovych to Russia – the first victory for Ukrainians in the current struggles.

However, as Russia slowly lost its grip on its western neighbor, it also sought to maintain its influence by all possible means.

In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and instigated a civil war in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, funding and militarily supporting a separatist movement that eventually shot down the Malaysian MH-17 airline, a civilian airplane.

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The war in Donetsk and Luhansk, often known as the War in Donbas, had been an ongoing conflict since 2014 before Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, when Russia used it as one of the pretexts for its full-scale invasion.

Now, as the EU negotiations are due to start in early 2024, Ukraine inches ever closer to its EU dream, which for many Ukrainians, also symbolizes freedom and dignity. Commemorative flags and plaques serve as a reminder of the cost Ukraine has paid for this dream – the field of Ukrainian flags continues to grow, each representing a lost hope and dream. 

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