AP News: “Fighting is grinding on in Ukraine after the country marked the anniversary of Russia’s invasion, with Ukrainian authorities on Saturday reporting dozens of new Russian strikes and attacks on cities in the east and south.”
Fierce fighting raged along the Ukrainian front line as Russia’s invasion of the country hit the one-year mark. “Fighting is grinding on in Ukraine after the country marked the anniversary of Russia’s invasion, with Ukrainian authorities on Saturday reporting dozens of new Russian strikes and attacks on cities in the east and south,” the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Despite superior firepower and months of siege, the invading Russian forces are struggling to take the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. “Ukrainian troops are still fighting to defend the area after Moscow ramped up its campaign to encircle the city early this year,” the TV channel Sky News (UK) reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the somber anniversary with a defiant speech, lauding his country’s resistance to the Russian invasion against all odds. The British daily Guardian reported:
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has declared victory to be inevitable as his country marked the anniversary of the moment invading Russian tanks poured across its border and missiles pummelled its cities, an event he described as “the longest day of our lives”.
Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv late on Friday, Zelenskiy said: “If our partners respect all their promises and deadlines, victory inevitably awaits us.”
In a national address earlier in the day, Zelenskiy told Ukrainians they had been proven invincible over “a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity”. He paid homage to cities that have become bywords for Russian war crimes, such as Bucha, Irpin and Mariupol, describing them as “capitals of invincibility”.
Russia did not formally mark the anniversary, but President Vladimir Putin gave a televised speech on Tuesday, in which he blamed the U.S. and the West for the conflict.
The Reuters reported:
“I am making this address at a time which we all know is a difficult, watershed moment for our country, a time of cardinal, irreversible changes around the world, the most important historic events that shape the future of our country and our people, when each of us bears a colossal responsibility.”
“I have already said many times that the people of Ukraine have become the hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western overlords, who have effectively occupied this country in the political, military and economic sense… Today’s Ukrainian regime essentially serves not the national interests but those of third countries.”
“The elites of the West do not hide their purpose… That is, they intend to transform a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation. This is exactly how we understand it all and we will react accordingly, because in this case we are talking about the existence of our country. But they also cannot fail to realize that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield. Therefore, they are conducting more and more aggressive information attacks against us.”
After 12 months of blood fighting, Russian forces have occupied nearly 41,500 square miles, approximately 18 percent of Ukraine. The main Russian gains have been in the easter Donbas region, a predominately Russian-speaking area and Ukraine’s main industrial hub.
Russia and Ukraine have not provided reliable casualties figures since the start of the war, but estimates suggest that hundreds and thousands may have been killed or injured on both sides.
Biden, EU Announce New Sanctions on Russia
The Biden administration marked the one-year anniversary of the war with a fresh round of sanctions against Russia and pledged an additional $2 billion for Ukraine.
The BBC reported:
The latest restrictions target more than 100 entities both within Russia and worldwide, including banks and suppliers of defence equipment.
Specifically, the US said it wants to stop those helping Russia exploit loopholes to get sanctioned materials. The White House’s fresh round of aid for Ukraine is worth $2bn (£1.7bn).
A further $550m (£459m) will be supplied to both Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova to strengthen their energy infrastructure.
“One year on, the commitment of the United States, together with some 50 countries who have rallied to rush urgently needed assistance to Ukraine, has only strengthened,” the Department of Defense said.
The European Union, which is having a hard time keeping all its 27 members on board with regards to the conflict in Ukraine, also slapped new sanctions on Russia.
“The European Union agreed on Friday to slap a new round of sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, a hard-fought decision that almost missed the bloc’s self-imposed deadline of 24 February that was supposed to coincide with the war’s one-year anniversary,” the French TV channel Euro News noted.
Anti-War Protest in Germany
On Sunday, Germany’s capital Berlin is expected to witness the largest anti-war protest since the Russian invasion 12 months ago. The demonstration, organized by a loose coalition of right- and left-wing groups, is opposed to Germany supplying battle tanks and other heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Sunday’s anti-war protest, called by Germany’s Left Party (Die Linke) leader Sahra Wagenknecht, has been backed by the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Germany’s state-run Deutsche Welle TV reported:
One of the organizers, renegade former socialist Left Party leader Sahra Wagenknecht told public broadcaster ZDF that, “We have made clear that rightwing extremist symbols have no place at this rally,” but added, “Of course, everyone is welcome who wants to demonstrate for peace with an open heart.”
The rally follows a protest in solidarity with Ukraine, attended by some 10,000 people in Berlin on Friday night — the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
Saturday’s protest has been organized by Wagenknecht and publicist Alice Schwarzer. The pair have applied for permission for 10,000 people to attend.
Two weeks ago, the organizers published a “Manifesto for Peace,” which has been backed by the signatures of more than 620,000 people, according to the change.org website.
The pair say they want to see “negotiations and compromises” on both sides of the yearlong Ukraine conflict to prevent it from escalating into possible nuclear war.
In an interview with Germany’s DPA news agency, Schwarzer said in view of the number of people who have signed the manifesto, she said it is “well on the way to becoming a real citizens’ movement.”
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