Ukraine war: Zelensky insists country will win on second anniversary

  • By Kathryn Armstrong
  • BBC news

Image caption,

Marches were held across Europe in solidarity with Ukraine

Ukraine’s president has sounded a rallying cry and vowed that his country will prevail, marking two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

“None of us will allow our Ukraine to end,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech in the capital Kiev.

He was joined by Western leaders in a show of solidarity.

The anniversary comes as Ukraine experiences a series of setbacks in its efforts to oust Russia from its territory.

Zelensky said in his speech on Saturday that any normal person would want the war to end, but that this can only happen on Ukraine’s terms.

“That’s why we always add ‘on our terms’ to the words ‘end of the war’. That is why the word ‘peace’ always goes together with ‘fair’.

“We’ve been fighting for it. For 730 days of our lives. And we will win on the best day of our lives.”

With him in Kiev were the leaders of Italy, Belgium and Canada, as well as the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

They laid wreaths at a wall in memory of those who died during the conflict.

However, there were some glaring omissions among the visitors. No senior US representatives were present, while last year President Joe Biden attended the anniversary.

Ms von der Leyen praised the Ukrainian troops who defended the country in the early days of the invasion and clouded expectations about their ability to hold off the Russian invasion force.

“You succeeded in stopping the Russian attack on the heart of Ukraine. You saved your country, you saved all of Europe,” she said.

Italy and Canada used the anniversary visit to announce they had signed bilateral security pacts with Kiev aimed at boosting Ukraine’s hopes of joining the NATO military alliance.

Image source, Shutterstock

Image caption,

Western leaders joined the Ukrainian president in Kiev to celebrate the anniversary

In a further show of support, marches were held across Europe, with participants demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin end the war.

At least four people were reportedly arrested in Moscow on Saturday during a rare anti-war protest organized by wives of mobilized soldiers.

Such demonstrations are rare because Russia now has several laws in place that punish dissent.

Meanwhile, the fighting continues. At least four people have been killed in the latest Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities.

Kiev said it had hit one of Russia’s largest steel plants with a drone strike early on Saturday.

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