Zelensky marks one-year anniversary of Russian invasion with moving tribute

Kyiv, Ukraine - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to his country on Friday as Ukraine marked the first anniversary of Russia's all-out invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to his country on Friday as Ukraine marked the first anniversary of Russia's all-out invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to his country on Friday as Ukraine marked the first anniversary of Russia's all-out invasion.  © via REUTERS

"It was a year of pain, sorrow, faith, and unity," he wrote in English on Twitter.

One year ago, the country had made a choice, Zelensky said.

"Not a white flag, but the blue and yellow one. Not fleeing, but facing. Resisting & fighting," he posted.

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"And this year, we remained invincible. We know that 2023 will be the year of our victory!"

Zelensky went on to give a speech at Kyiv's St Sophia Cathedral, where he handed out service medals to soldiers.

Those attending held a minute's silence for the Ukrainian victims of the war. High security measures were in place for the event, which was held in sub-zero temperatures, with the area widely cordoned off.

In the early hours of February 24, 2022, Russian forces invaded Ukrainian territory on multiple fronts. Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wanted the "demilitarization and de-Nazification" of Ukraine.

Last year, Moscow annexed four territories in the east and south of Ukraine, in violation of international law.

Initially during the invasion, Russian forces had also advanced towards Kyiv. But they have since withdrawn from the area around the capital, and the fighting is now concentrated around the east and south, with particularly fierce fighting around the town of Bakhmut.

Together with the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, Russia currently occupies around 18% of Ukraine's territory.

China puts forward ceasefire proposal

Zelensky handed out service medals to Ukrainian soldiers during a ceremony.
Zelensky handed out service medals to Ukrainian soldiers during a ceremony.  © via REUTERS

China used the occasion of the anniversary to call for a ceasefire.

A 12-point position paper on the conflict released by the Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Friday said that conflict and war "benefit no one."

"All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually de-escalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire."

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The UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, with 141 of 193 member nations voting to condemn Moscow's invasion.

Although it is non-binding, the vote in the United Nations' largest body is an indication of global sentiment on the war.

Cover photo: via REUTERS

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