Kyiv, Feb 24 (EFE).- Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion with a pledge that the coming year would be one of “invincibility” in which the nation will strive for victory.
The former comedic actor turned globally recognized war-time president said Ukraine had defied the odds and endured through unity.
“We did not raise the white flag, and began to defend the blue and yellow,” he said in a statement to mark the grim milestone. “We were not afraid, we did not break down, we did not surrender.”
“The first month of the war. And the first turning point in the war. The first changes in the world’s perception of Ukraine. It did not fall in three days. It stopped the second army of the world,” he added.
Zelenskyy, 45, paid tribute to those who have been killed during Russia’s invasion, those who have lost loved ones and thanked Ukrainian soldiers, key workers such as medics, and civil society.
He told those who remain under Russian occupation that they had not been forgotten.
“One way or another, we will liberate all our lands,” he said.
The president also thanked his international allies for their support and provision of weaponry in the face of Russia’s invasion.
“It was a year of resilience. A year of care. A year of bravery. A year of pain. A year of hope. A year of endurance. A year of unity. The year of invincibility. The furious year of invincibility. Its main result is that we endured. We were not defeated. And we will do everything to gain victory this year,” Zelenskyy said.
Vladimir Putin’s decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine became apparent in the early hours of February 24, 2022 with missile strikes and attacks across the country.
The move followed weeks of military build-up along Russia’s border with Ukraine, repeated warnings from the United States of an imminent invasion, and Putin’s decision to recognize the self-styled independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
Zelenskyy remained in Ukraine to face off the invasion, and has only left twice since for brief visits to the US, the UK and Brussels to shore up support.
Russia’s initial gains on the battlefield have suffered major reverses due to successful Ukrainian counter offensive operations.
Over 8,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes in the year since the invasion began, according to the United Nations, which says the exact death toll was likely considerably higher.
Russia and its proxy forces have de facto controlled areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk and the entirety of Crimea since 2014 following a rebellion and annexation in response to a revolution that ousted Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych.