Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today marked the anniversary of Russia’s barbaric invasion with a sombre message of defiance to his people as he vowed to bring Russian ‘murderers’ to justice.
As dawn broke on a day of commemorations and continued resilience, Zelensky hailed his nation and its people for fighting back against Vladimir Putin’s men during what he called ‘a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity’.
‘We have endured. We were not defeated. And we will do everything to gain victory this year,’ Zelensky said of the war – the biggest and deadliest conflict since the Second World War.
But there is no end in sight after a year of intense fighting – and former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev today vowed Russia would win the war and was ready to fight up to Poland’s borders if needed to counter ‘threats’.
In a defiant video address, Zelensky recalled the terror unleashed a year ago by the Russian assault.
‘Ukraine has inspired the world. Ukraine has united the world,’ Zelensky said, hailing cities that have become bywords for Russian war crimes like Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol as ‘capitals of invincibility.’ ‘We will never rest until the Russian murderers face deserved punishment,’ he vowed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, holds the flag of a military unit as an officer kisses it, during commemorative event on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one year anniversary in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today marked the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion with a sombre message of defiance to his people, saying ‘we will defeat everyone’. Pictured: A father holds his daughter in Ukraine in the video shared by Zelensky
In a video released to the media and titled ‘the year of invincibility’, the 45-year-old recalled how he addressed Ukrainians a year ago in a hurried statement, as Kyiv and the world reeled from Russia’s act of war
In a defiant video address, Zelensky recalled the terror unleashed a year ago by the Russian assault, triggering Europe’s biggest and deadliest war since the Second World War
He said February 24, 2022, the date of the Russian invasion, was ‘the longest day of our lives’.
‘We survived the first day of the full-scale war. We didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but we clearly understood that for each tomorrow, you need to fight. And we fought,’ he said.
‘It was the longest day of our lives. The hardest day of our modern history. We woke up early and haven’t fallen asleep since,’ he said.
Ukrainians planned memorials, candle vigils and other remembrances for their tens of thousands of dead – a toll growing all the time as fighting rages in eastern Ukraine in particular.
There were concerns that Russia might unleash another barrage of missiles against Ukraine to pile yet more sadness on the day.
Mercifully, air raid alarms did not sound overnight in the capital, Kyiv, and dawn broke quietly.
Still, the government recommended that schools move classes online and office employees were asked to work from home.
Tributes to Ukraine’s resilience flowed from overseas. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was among monuments illuminated in Ukraine’s colours – yellow and blue.
NATO said it was ‘resolute’ in supporting Ukraine while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said today that Putin will not reach his aims in Ukraine, a year after Moscow’s troops invaded the country.
‘The earlier the Russian president realises that he will not reach his imperialistic goal, the bigger the chance that the war will end soon. Putin has it in his hands. He can end this war,’ said Scholz.
EU President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the ‘heroic’ fighting spirit of Ukrainians.
She said: ‘One year of brutal Russian aggression. One year of heroic Ukrainian resistance. One year of European solidarity. Ahead of us is a future of unity.
‘You are fighting for freedom, for democracy, and for your place in the European Union. We are with you, for as long as it takes.’
But former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev today vowed Russia would be victorious in the war and was ready to fight until the Polish border to counter ‘threats’.
‘Victory will be achieved,’ Medvedev said on Telegram, ‘This is why it is so important to reach all the goals of the special military operation. To push back the borders of the threats against our country as far as possible, even if this is to the borders of Poland’.
Zelensky said the February 24, 2022, Russian assault had been a moment when ‘millions of us made a choice’.
Ukrainians chose not the white flag of surrender ‘but the blue and yellow one. Not fleeing, but facing. Resisting and fighting,’ his tweet said.
In the year since, the world has watched in horror as Putin’s soldiers have dropped missiles on apartment buildings, tortured civilians before shooting them dead, and systematically raped women and girls.
Men, women and children – the youngest known victim being a 14-year-old boy – have been executed by Russian soldiers, their bodies thrown into deep troughs dug into the ground.
The scale of the suffering and the indiscriminate targeting of men, women and children has seen at least 7,000 civilians killed and nearly eight million Ukrainians flee to countries across Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a commemorative event on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one year anniversary, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday
Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny, right, talks to an officer during a commemorative event on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one year anniversary, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday
Ukrainian troops and their UK military instructors, commemorate lives lost in the Russian invasion of Ukraine during a sunrise commemorative service, at Lydd army camp in Kent, to mark the one-year anniversary of the start of the conflict
Ukrainian military recruits take part in prayers, blessings and a one minute silence alongside British and Canadian troops, to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at a military base in the south east of Britain on Friday
A Ukrainian national flag flies atop the Reichstag building, the seat of Germany’s lower house of parliament Bundestag on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, on Friday
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen attends wreath-laying ceremony at the War of Independence Victory Column during Independence Day celebrations in Tallinn, Estonia, on Friday
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen attends wreath-laying ceremony at the War of Independence Victory Column on Friday
When the first air strikes struck Ukrainian cities a year ago today, hundreds of thousands fled across the border to neighbouring countries. Thousands more had fled in the days leading up to the invasion, fearing the worst.
Emotional scenes at train stations showed fathers waving tearful goodbyes to their wives and children before returning to fight for Ukraine. Some families have been torn apart forever, with tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers killed so far.
For those Ukrainians who have stayed in Ukraine, they have seen their homes and towns levelled to the ground and their loved ones killed or wounded by Russian missiles.
In March last year, a month into the war, Russian soldiers unleashed a series of indiscriminate bombs on civilian areas, leaving death and destruction in their wake.
During a three-month siege in the southern city of Mariupol, Russian forces levelled the city and killed hundreds of civilians in missile attacks. The world watched in horror as Russian forces bombed a maternity hospital on March 9, killing a pregnant woman and her baby, and wounding at least 17 people.
A week later, Russian aircraft again dropped missiles on civilian areas – this time on the Donetsk Regional Theatre in Mariupol, which was housing hundreds of civilians and had ‘children’ written in large white letters outside. At least a dozen people were killed and scores more were injured in the attack.
The attacks on civilians continue. Last month, on 14 January 2023, a Russian missile strike on an apartment building in the city of Dnipro killed at least 44 people, including five children, and injured 79 people.
Zelensky was visibly emotional and stood motionless as he surveyed the scene of utter devastation he encountered when he visited Bucha in April last year, with dozens of bodies shot at close range lying on the empty streets
Emotional scenes at train stations showed fathers waving tearful goodbyes to their wives and children before returning to fight for Ukraine. Pictured: A couple say goodbye on a platform at Kyiv central train station as an evacuation train leaves the capital on February 28, 2022
And since October, Russian forces have also repeatedly targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, plunging Ukrainian cities into darkness and leaving millions without heat during the bitterly cold winter months.
In the early months of the war, Russian forces were forced to retreat from towns and cities across Ukraine – but as they retreated, the war crimes they have committed against civilians has become clear.
Since March, mass graves have been filled with the bodies of thousands of civilians, many with their hands tied behind their backs, along with torture chambers discovered in liberated areas of Ukraine in areas across the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions of Ukraine – including the cities of Bucha, Irpin and Izyum.
Zelensky was visibly emotional and stood motionless as he surveyed the scene of utter devastation he encountered when he visited Bucha in April last year, with dozens of bodies shot at close range lying on the empty streets.
The civilians who survived have detailed how Russian soldiers detained them for months and subjected them to electric shocks, waterboarding and beatings.
Horrific testimonies – including how Russian soldiers gang-raped a 22-year-old Ukrainian mother, sexually abused her husband and made the couple have sex in front of them before raping their four-year-old daughter – have also shown how Putin’s men have used rape as a weapon of war.
In many cases, the Russian soldiers would shoot dead the women’s husbands – or threaten to do so – as soon as they tried to defend their wives and stop them from being raped.
Russian soldiers have also detained more than 20,000 Ukrainian ‘hostages’ and sent them to Russia, Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine’s human rights envoy, said last month.
Emergency workers clear the rubble after a Russian rocket hit a multistory building leaving many people under debris in the southeastern city of Dnipro, Ukraine, on January 14
The bodies of civilians lie on Yablunska street in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, after the Russian military pulled back from the city. Dozens of Ukrainian civilians were slain in the town during Russia’s month-long occupation, with Yablunska street in particular going on to become emblematic of the atrocities carried out by Putin’s soldiers in the regions around Kyiv on April 2, 2022
Coffins are seen from above being buried in a row of graves during a funeral ceremony at a cemetery in Bucha on April 18, 2022
In response, economic and diplomatic repercussions have rippled across the globe.
The West have continued to hit Moscow with sanctions, cutting its biggest banks off from the SWIFT financial network, curbing its access to technology and restricting its ability to export oil and gas.
As a result of the crippling sanctions, Russia was forced to miss a key payment deadline in June, meaning Moscow defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time since the Bolshevik coup more than a century ago.
Moscow has retaliated to the Western sanctions by cutting off the supplies of cheap natural gas to European countries, driving up inflation and energy prices there. European officials accused Russia of ‘energy blackmail’ after its state-owned gas exporter Gazprom closed its Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany.
Higher costs for energy and food have destabilised business activity around the world.
While Western nations are supporting Ukraine militarily, financially and politically, China, India and countries in the global south have proven ambivalent about Western arguments that Ukraine is the front line of a fight for freedom and democracy.
And in a blow to the West, the Kremlin has sought to replace revenues lost from its oil and gas exports to Europe with a pivot to China, India and other Asian countries. Trade between Russia and China hit a record high of $190billion last year.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk