Ukrainian people visit graves of relatives in cemetery in town of Bucha, outside Kyiv. Ukrainian people visit graves of relatives in cemetery in town of Bucha, outside Kyiv. 

Ukraine vows victory at first anniversary of Russian invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed that his nation will do everything to achieve victory a year after Russia's invasion. He spoke as emotionally charged ceremonies were underway across the country to remember the first anniversary of a war that killed at least tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

By Stefan J. Bos

In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Zelensky briefly tried to comfort a mourning young woman and her children struggling to hold back tears with a military honor guard standing nearby. They were among the bereaved families receiving awards for fallen soldiers for whom life had just begun.

There were similar open-air ceremonies elsewhere, including in Bucha, where Russian forces were accused of committing crimes against humanity.

The armed conflict has become the worst in Europe since World War Two, with at least tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians killed on both sides and many more injured. As a result, millions of people were forced to flee their homes.

Yet, Ukraine's President Zelensky said his nation endured since the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022, which he called "the longest day" in the life of Ukrainians.

"A year ago on this day, from this same place around seven in the morning, I addressed you with a brief statement, lasting only 67 seconds," President Zelensky said as solemn music played in the background. "It contained the two most important things then and now. That Russia had started a full-scale war against us. And that we are strong. We are ready for anything. We will defeat everyone. Because we are Ukraine."

Listen to the report:

Ahead of his televised speech, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution condemning Russia's invasion, calling for the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine and a halt to the fighting.

Turbulent OSCE Session

Separately a session at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria, saw a mass walkout of delegates after a Russian representative was allowed to speak.

Across the world, people, including the many Ukrainian refugees, remembered the war's first anniversary. In Britain, for instance, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led a national minute's silence in support of Ukraine.

And British King Charles condemned Russia's attack and praised the Ukrainian people's "remarkable courage."

But there were no indications that Moscow would end its invasion: former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev even suggested that Russia should push Ukrainian forces back to the Polish border.

The United States responded in kind by announcing an additional two billion dollars in defense spending for Ukraine on top of the billions already pledged. This latest package includes high-demand ammunition, new kinds of drones, counter-drone systems, and other types of weaponry.

Yet with more western weapons arriving and Russia planning another assault, parts of Ukraine are even preparing for trench-by-trench fighting resembling World War One.

It's a far cry from the Europe visionaries envisaged for the 21st century.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

24 February 2023, 15:44