ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports ahead of the first anniversary of the brutal war in Ukraine
Words by ITV News Foreign Producer Natasha Tierney
When the people of Ukraine went to bed on the 23rd of February last year, the world already knew what the morning would likely bring.
American intelligence had predicted the start of the war almost precisely to the day, and whilst Kyiv was cautious not to provoke, Ukraine's military had a good idea of what was coming. In an interview with ITV News this week, the Deputy Head of Ukraine's Military Intelligence, Vadym Skibitsky, said his team were as confident in their position one year ago as they are today, and knew that Ukraine would resist the Russian advance.
Vadym Skibitsky sat down with ITV News' James Mates
"I was not surprised that in that period of time we stopped the movement of the offensive operation of Russia in many directions, for example towards Kyiv," he said. "We were surprised by the mistakes made by Russia in their assessment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces." The Ukrainians may not have been surprised by Putin's actions, but Russia's oligarchs - his inner circle - most certainly were.
They were called to the Kremlin on the morning of the invasion to be told they had no choice but to support it. The results were unprecedented Western sanctions that have destroyed many of their fortunes and hugely damaged the Russian economy.
But the price for Ukraine has of course been much higher than sanctions - over 8,000 civilians killed, including 487 children, more than 3,500 Russian airstrikes and 5,000 missile launches, towns and cities around the country reduced to rubble or living under occupation.
Nonetheless, Ukraine's most senior national security adviser told ITV News that in Putin's war, it is not their country that will have lost the most when it's finally over: "The West does not understand the way things are. The process of disintegration of the Russian Federation has already been put into motion, and no negotiations or compromises will stop it - it's impossible," says Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council. "I want everyone to understand that. Suppose you think that negotiations with Putin or whoever else will be able to prevent the decay of the Russian empire - you are severely mistaken.
"You couldn't stop the earthquake in Turkey - it's impossible. The earthquake in Russia has already begun."
Ukrainian officials believe they can and will win the war this year, yet in Russia support for Putin and the war with Ukraine remains strong, at least outwardly.
This evening in Moscow it was not a vigil but a fireworks display - celebrating the day of the "Fatherland"- that marked the anniversary of a war which is estimated to already have cost the lives of as many as 200,000 Russian soldiers. In contrast, many capital cities around Europe tonight lit up their monuments in remembrance and solidarity with Ukraine for their losses over the past year. Their leaders are all hoping the next anniversary will be marked in peace time.
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