Ukraine’s national anthem resounded around the walls of the war memorial on top of Edinburgh Castle as a service was held to mark the anniversary of the Russian invasion.
A year has passed since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops into the country, igniting a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead and millions displaced.
On Friday, Ukrainian families, representatives of the Scottish and British governments, members of the armed forces and consuls from countries around the world came together to pay tribute to the lives lost so far.
During the service, dozens of wreaths were laid at the Scottish National War Memorial, which is located in the castle.
Led by one of Scotland’s Ukrainian Catholic priests, Father Vasyl Kren, and Karen Campbell, Father of Legion Scotland, the service heard prayers and the call to remembrance, and observed a minute’s silence.
The Last Post and The Rouse were played, before the event ended with the Ukrainian national anthem sung by an accompanying piper.
The service came after the people of Scotland fell silent at 11am for one minute to show their support for the Ukrainians.
South of the border, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined outside Number 10 with his wife Akshata Murthy, Kiev’s ambassador to Britain Vadym Prystaiko and dozens of Ukrainian soldiers training in the UK for the moment of reflection. .
Speaking after the service in Edinburgh, Tanya Balanova, who attended on behalf of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, was filled with emotion for the people struggling in her home country.
The 28-year-old said: “It has been 365 days since our country has been fighting for our identity and our freedom.
“Soldiers are giving their lives for our tomorrow.
“I leave a wreath on behalf of all displaced Ukrainians.”
She said the memorial service was moving for Ukrainian families, adding: “We have told everyone, all our friends and family, that here in Scotland we are paying tribute to the people of our country.”
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Robert Aldridge, speaking after the service, said it had been “an emotional day, especially for families with loved ones who are still struggling.”
Speaking on behalf of the city, he added: “Our job here in Edinburgh is to make displaced people feel as welcome as possible to show that we have full solidarity with Ukraine.
“Edinburgh is totally behind the Ukraine.
“We want the displaced people from Ukraine who live here to feel as welcome as possible.
“We really appreciate what you are giving to our community to keep Edinburgh vibrant. But we hope that those who wish can return as soon as possible in peace to a victorious Ukraine.”
Aldridge said she was especially moved when she saw two children lay wreaths at the memorial during the service.
“I am assuming that his parents may still be fighting in the Ukraine,” he said.
Speaking about the location, he added: “This is a true place of sanctuary, and a place where you can reflect on the sacrifices that have been made to allow us to live the life that we currently live.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “One year after Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s suffering is heartbreaking, but their courage and resilience continue to inspire.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, today and always, in their fight for freedom and democracy.”
Since the invasion, millions of people have been forced to leave their homes and have found refuge in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
Neil Gray, the Scottish minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine, said more than 23,000 Ukrainians with a Scottish sponsor have arrived in the UK since last February.
Later on Friday, around 50 peace activists gathered on Princes Street in Edinburgh for a vigil to mark the first anniversary of the war.
They sang and carried banners calling for an end to the war.
Lynn Jamieson, chair of the Scottish CND, said: “We unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
“The unacceptable risks of nuclear war (or a continent-contaminating fire at a nuclear power plant like Chernobyl) have run alongside the hell of carnage, destruction and deadly actions.
“These have exacerbated climate change as governments choose to build war machines rather than green transitions. The only profits are those of the arms industries, whose increase in profits may exceed that of the energy companies.