The Ukrainian president used a press conference on the anniversary of the Russian invasion to urge Moscow to change course, saying: “Please respect our right to live on our land. Get out of our territory. Stop bombarding us.”
Breaking with his office’s usual wartime security protocols, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s press conference was broadcast live on Friday.
Zelensky became emotional when talking about how the war could end, arguing that only if Russia stops its aggression can a diplomatic path be pursued.
“Stop (destroying) all our infrastructure, energy, drinking water. Stop bombing towns, villages, killing dogs and cats, just animals, burning down forests,” he said.
Although China called for a ceasefire on Friday, peace was nowhere in sight. Ukraine previously rejected a lull in fighting fearing it would allow Russia to regroup militarily after heavy setbacks on the battlefield.
Zelensky gave qualified support to China’s new pronouncements on the ceasefire and peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in a loosely worded proposal published on Friday.
“China has shown its thoughts. I think that the fact that China has started talking about Ukraine is not bad,” the president said during a wide-ranging press conference.
“But the question is what follows the words. The question is in the steps and where they will lead.
A 12-point document issued by China’s Foreign Ministry also urged an end to sanctions that aim to squeeze Russia’s economy.
That suggestion also seemed like a failure, given that Western nations are working to further tighten the noose on sanctions, not loosen it. Both the United Kingdom and the United States imposed more sanctions on Friday.
Ukraine is preparing another military push to push back Russian forces with the help of weaponry that has flown in from the West.
NATO member Poland said it had delivered four advanced Leopard 2A4 tanks, becoming the first country to deliver the German-made armor to Ukraine.
Poland’s prime minister said on a visit to kyiv that more leopards will come. Poland’s defense minister said contributions from other countries would help form Ukraine’s first Leopard battalion of 31 tanks.
“Ukraine is entering a new period, with a new task: to win,” said Defense Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov.
“It won’t be easy. But we will manage,” he added. “There is anger and a desire to avenge the fallen.”
Airstrike alarms did not sound overnight in kyiv, easing concerns that Russia could launch another barrage of missiles to heap further gloom on Ukraine on the anniversary.
Still, the government recommended that schools move classes online and office workers were asked to work from home. And even as they took the Kiev metro to work, bought coffee, and kept busy, Ukrainians were inevitably haunted by thoughts of loss and memories of when missiles fell, troops crossed Ukraine’s borders, and an exodus of refugees began. a year ago.
At the time, it was feared that the country could fall in a matter of weeks. Zelensky addressed those dark moments in a video speech.
“We fight fiercely for every day. And we endured the second day. And then the third one,” she said. “And we still know: every tomorrow is worth fighting for.”
Tributes to Ukraine’s resilience took place in other countries. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was one of the monuments illuminated with the colors of Ukraine: yellow and blue. In Berlin, a wrecked Russian tank was put on display.
Anti-war activists in Belgrade, Serbia, left a cake covered in red icing representing blood and a skull on top on a sidewalk near the Russian embassy, which police prevented them from approaching.
In Russia, the media and human rights groups reported more police arrests of protesters who took to the streets with anti-war slogans and flowers in various parts of the country.
In Ukraine, Zelensky was particularly busy, starting the day with an early morning tweet promising: “We know 2023 will be the year of our victory.”
He followed up with his video address in which he also pledged not to abandon Ukrainians living under Russian occupation, pledging: “One way or another, we will liberate all our lands.”
Zelensky said one of his biggest disappointments from the war was seeing people who might have fought leave the country when Russia invaded, referring to officials who fled.
He said a low point came when Russian atrocities were discovered in the retaken town of Bucha, near kyiv.
“It was very scary,” he said. “We saw that the devil is not somewhere out there, but on Earth.”
Earlier on Friday, the Ukrainian leader addressed troops in a Kiev square and handed out honors, including to the widow and daughter of a fallen soldier, telling them: “We will never forget it.”
At a kyiv hospital, he also decorated wounded fighters.
A year later, the casualty figures are dire on both sides, although Moscow and kyiv keep the precise figures secret. Western estimates suggest hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded.