Ukraine marks first anniversary of full-scale Russian invasion

This week marks the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. commonspace.eu will mark this week as one of solidarity with Ukraine and its people, and is running a number of articles and news items related to the conflict and its impact on the rest of Europe and the world.

Ukraine is marking one year since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of the country, which began in the early hours of 24 February 2022.

Having wanted to seize Kyiv and overthrow the Ukrainian government in a matter of days, Vladimir Putin has found himself bogged down in a protracted, bloody campaign that has killed tens of thousands of people and wounded many more.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an address to the nation early in the morning on Friday (24 February 2023), entitled "February. The year of invincibility."

Zelensky remembers famous "feats" of Ukrainian resistance

Zelensky personally thanked everyone who had "made [the] resistance possible", including members of the armed forces, special operations forces, the national guard, and the police.

He then recounted the course of the invasion over the past year, remembering some of the early atrocities that Russia committed against Ukraine, and remembering famous moments of Ukrainian resistance.

Zelensky then struck a more personal tone as he addressed the very large number of Ukrainians who have lost loved ones during the war.

"A year of resilience...a year of unity"

He recalled the late summer and autumn, when Russia failed to take a single Ukrainian city and Ukraine launched counteroffensives in the east and south.

"We withstand all threats, shelling, cluster bombs, cruise missiles, kamikaze drones, blackouts, and cold. We are stronger than that," Zelensky said, rounding off his speech. "It was a year of resilience. A year of care. A year of bravery. A year of pain. A year of hope. A year of endurance. A year of unity."

Ukrainian defence minister Oleksei Reznikov has also said that a Ukrainian counteroffensive is coming, and that they are "working hard to prepare and secure it".

European Council says they "will not rest" until Ukrainian victory

On the eve of the anniversary, members of the European Council released a statement, saying, "The Ukrainian people have shown incredible strength in defending their homeland and the core principles of international law against the Russian aggression. They have shown resolve in defending democracy and freedom, resilience in the face of hardship and dignity when confronted with Russia’s crimes."

They added, "Together with our international partners, we will make sure that Ukraine prevails, that international law is respected, that peace and Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders are restored, that Ukraine is rebuilt, and that justice is done. Until that day, we will not rest."

United Kingdom to have a minute's silence

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom will mark the first anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine with a minute's silence at 11am, GMT. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, together with his wife Akshata Murty, will hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of 10 Downing Street.

PM Sunak will also address leaders of the G7 in a virtual meeting today, where he is expected to say, "I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict. As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for peace between Russia and Ukraine, saying "There must be a future with a just and stable peace - a free and secure Ukraine - and the beginning of a generation's long process of healing and reconciliation."

Marches of solidarity to take place across the world, buildings illuminated in blue and yellow

Protests and marches in solidarity with Ukraine are expected to take place across the whole world marking the first anniversary.

Furthermore, the Orbeliani Palace of the President of Georgia was lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag on Thursday evening, and the Moldovan capital Chisinau will also illuminate buildings and locations in the city in blue and yellow. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was also lit up in blue and yellow on Thursday evening.

Former Russian President confident of victory

Despite a litany of military failures and setbacks over the past year, former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has insisted that Russian victory "will come". Writing on his Telegram channel, he suggested that his country's military should push Ukrainian forces back all the way to the Polish border.

source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images with Canva

 

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