In a continuing show of solidarity, international landmarks have been lit up in Ukrainian colours
Paris lit up the Eiffel Tower in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag on Thursday, ahead of the one-year anniversay of Russia's invasion of its neighbour.
The top of the tower was bathed in blue, and the bottom in yellow shortly after the sun went down, with Paris' Mayor Anne Hidalgo reportedly having asked for a show of support to mark the occassion.
Elsewhere, in London people gathered in Trafalgar Square to hold a vigil on behalf of Ukraine, which has been under attack since February 24, 2022.
Speaking at the vigil, Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko called the invasion an “unjustified and unprovoked war” which has “brought so much tragedy and suffering to our nation”.
“Dear American friends, with you by our side, with our British friends and colleagues and the rest of the world, we are growing stronger each and every day, driving Putin’s killers out of our lands, restoring peace and stability and respect of human rights," he said.
Mr Prystaiko - who said his country’s people have not lost their optimism despite the death and destuction around them - added that Ukrainians are “confidently looking at our future”. “Ukraine is a strong, young nation with great courageous people, happy to share with the rest of the world their unique culture,” the ambassador said.
The comments came after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was met with cheers as he addressed the crowd at the vigil in central London.
He added that all political parties in the UK “fully support” efforts to “make sure Putin is defeated in Ukraine and his army is sent home”, telling the crowd that Britain trained 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers last year and said it will train another 20,000.
He said: “This time last year we weren’t supposed to be here. President Putin had a plan that in three weeks he would have dominated Ukraine, sent people to filtration camps and eventually have turned that country, your wonderful country, into merely a pawn for his ambitions. “All of you here from Ukraine, the bravery of your country’s men and women who have stood against this aggression, this illegal war, this challenge to freedom, democracy and human rights should be incredibly proud of what you are standing for.”
Academy award-winning actress Helen Mirren recited a Ukrainian poem at the vigil, reading out the English translation of Take Only What Is Most Important by Serhiy Zhadan.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador Jane Hartley told the crowd that the event is a reminder that the US and the UK will “always stand by our friends in Ukraine”.
With the weather and ground conditions improving in Ukraine, the war is braced for a Russian spring offensive and subsequent counter by Kyiv’s military in the coming weeks and months.
Putin’s original plan of taking the country in only a matter of days failed, with a vast amount of the current fighting centring around the battle for the east of Ukraine.
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