Minute's silence to mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, Rishi Sunak announces

A Ukrainian mother grieves at the funeral of her son, an armed forces volunteer, who was killed fighting in Bakhmut area. Credit: AP

Britons will hold a national minute's silence to mark one year since Russia's "barbaric and deplorable" invasion of Ukraine, Rishi Sunak has announced.

The prime minister will lead tributes to the “bravery and resilience” of the Ukrainian people at 11am on Friday, February 24.

The moment of reflection will allow people to "demonstrate the UK’s unwavering solidarity" with Ukraine, the government said, with individuals and organisations being encouraged to participate.

In a statement, the Prime Minister said: “Russia’s unjustifiable attack brought war and destruction to our continent once again, and it has forced millions from their homes and devastated families across Ukraine and Russia.

“I am incredibly proud of the UK’s response, and throughout this past year, the UK public have shown their true generosity of spirit and their enduring belief in freedom.”

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have lost their lives during Vladimir Putin's invasion and millions have been displaced since Russia launched a full-scale attack on its neighbour.

More than 114,400 Ukrainians have found refuge in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, according to the government.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's made his first war-time visit to the UK last week, in which he thanked the UK for its support but also pleaded with Prime Minister Sunak for further military backing.

That resulted in a position shift from the UK, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace being instructed by the PM to investigate whether the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could supply Ukraine with fighter jets in the future.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy gifted Sir Lindsay Hoyle a Ukrainian pilot's helmet. Credit: PA

Before Mr Zelenskyy's visit the UK had sided with other Western nations which were refusing to consider sending Ukraine any aircraft.

Mr Sunak, who had already offered training to Ukrainian pilots on Nato-standard warplanes, said it was the “first step” which could lead to the eventual supply of fighter planes.

Despite Ukraine requiring vast Western support to fight Putin's military, the narrative in recent weeks has been that Russia's invasion is struggling to make ground.

The MoD said on Tuesday that Putin had his troops commanded to advance in “most sectors” but are struggling to achieve a major breakthrough.

“Overall, the current operational picture suggests that Russian forces are being given orders to advance in most sectors, but that they have not massed sufficient offensive combat power on any one axis to achieve a decisive effect,” the MoD said.

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