The war in Ukraine entered its second year on Friday with no end in sight, a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowing “we will defeat everyone” and global leaders set to impose new sanctions on Russia and countries supporting its war effort.
U.N. resolution calls on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine
“We are strong. We are ready for anything. We will defeat everyone,” Zelenskyy said in a video message.
“This is how it began on February 24, 2022,” he said, sitting behind a desk and recalling how he addressed Ukrainians a year ago as the world reeled from Russia’s act of war.
“The longest day of our lives. The most difficult day in our recent history. We woke up early and haven’t slept since.”
Zelenskyy described 2022 as a year of resilience, courage, pain, and unity.
“Its main conclusion is that we have survived. We had not been defeated. And we will do everything to win this year!”
As fighting raged on in Ukraine’s east and south, its allies around the world showed their support on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
Paris lit up the Eiffel Tower in the Ukrainian flag colors of blue and yellow and people draped in Ukrainian flags, with hands on their hearts, gathered at a vigil in London holding a banner: “If you stand for freedom, stand for Ukraine”.
“There will be a life after this war, because Ukraine will win,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a speech.
The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on Thursday demanding that Russia pull out and stop fighting.
There were 141 votes in favor and 32 abstentions. Six countries joined Russia to vote no – Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, and Syria. Russia’s ally China abstained on the U.N. vote.
Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy dismissed the action at the United Nations as “useless”.
The Ukraine military reported increased Russian activity in the east and south as the anniversary approached, with at least 25 towns and villages in three northern regions along the Russian border under fire.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 last year to seize Kyiv and topple the pro-European government, but those hopes were dashed by a fierce defense and Russian military blunders.
Ukraine’s counter-offensives in late 2022 grabbed back much of the territory it had lost. Russia now controls around a fifth of Ukraine.