Kyiv, February 24
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to push for victory in 2023 as he and other Ukrainians on Friday marked the somber first anniversary of the Russian invasion that he called “the longest day of our lives”.
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As morning broke on a day of commemorations and reflection, President Zelenskyy struck a tone of grim defiance and used the anniversary to congratulate Ukrainians on their resilience in the face of Europe’s biggest and deadliest war since World War II.
A child holds an Ukrainian flag in front of EU Parliament in Brussels.
He said they had proven themselves to be invincible in what he called “a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity”. “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 in an early morning video address.
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 attended memorials, held 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.
Although Friday marked the first anniversary of the full-scale invasion, combat between Russian-backed forces and Ukrainian troops has raged in the country’s east since 2014.
A new video from there shot from the air with a drone for The Associated Press showed how the town of Marinka has been razed by fighting, along with others.
Lining up in the capital, Kyiv, to buy commemorative postage stamps released for the anniversary, Tetiana Klimkova said that a year into the invasion, she’s been unable to shake “the feeling that your heart is constantly falling, it is falling and hurting”. Still, “this day has become a symbol for me that we have survived for a whole year and will continue to live,” she said. — AP
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