KYIV, Ukraine — The Motherland Monument — a 335-foot-tall stainless steel behemoth towering over Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv — was designed to assert Soviet invincibility. On Wednesday, a sprawling blue-and-gold Ukrainian national flag flew over it in a symbol of defiance.
A Soviet general secretary, Leonid Brezhnev, unveiled the monument in 1981: a figure of a woman, a sword in her right hand and a shield in her left emblazoned with the Soviet hammer and sickle. Ten years later, the Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine was free.
Volunteers marking Ukraine’s Independence Day attached the national flag to a drone and raised it into the sky above the steel giant. Ukrainians used the celebration — exactly six months after Russia invaded — to tell President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that his dreams of empire would not run through Ukraine.