'The longest day of our lives': Ukraine marks sombre one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion

Ukraine's resilience has been immense, but there were no celebrations in Kyiv as the nation marked exactly one year since Russia's invasion, as James Mates and Emma Murphy report

Ukrainians and others across the world have paid their respects, with sombre vigils marking the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion.

People from the war-torn country described the milestone as both terrible and inspiring, as its fighters continue to defy expectations they would quickly fall to Moscow's forces.

"This day has become a symbol for me that we have survived for a whole year and will continue to live," Kyiv resident Tetiana Klimkova said.

"Victory is ours, young people will live," said Nelia Zamostian, 62, who attended a memorial service in Bucha, a town that endured horrific massacres of civilians by Russian troops.

The war has torn many Ukrainians apart from their loved ones, including Daria Horda, 25, who hasn't been able to see her family in Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka.

"For me, it’s a terrible pain and a day where I don’t want to go back in my thoughts, rewatch photos or videos. A very tough day," she said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led a ceremony from Downing Street at 11am, marking the sombre milestone, with the Ukrainian national anthem sung outside No 10 following a minute's silence.

"As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country," said Mr Sunak.

Moments earlier, the King sent a message to the people of Ukraine, acknowledging the nation has "suffered unimaginably from an unprovoked full-scale attack", launched by Vladimir Putin.

In his message, he said: "They have shown truly remarkable courage and resilience in the face of such human tragedy.

A minute's silence outside No 10 was followed by a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem. Credit: PA

"The world has watched in horror at all the unnecessary suffering inflicted upon Ukrainians, many of whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting here in the UK and, indeed, across the world, from Romania to Canada."

The King, who met Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at Buckingham Palace earlier this month, added: "It is heartening that the United Kingdom, along with its allies, is doing everything possible to help at this most difficult time.

"Therefore, I can only hope the outpouring of solidarity from across the globe may bring not only practical aid, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives the award of Hero of Ukraine to an officer. Credit: AP

Elsewhere in the UK, Ukraine’s national anthem echoed around the walls of the national war memorial at the top of Edinburgh Castle in solidarity with the country.

In Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyy attended a commemorative event in Kyiv's Sofia Square this morning, marking one year since what he described as "the longest day of our lives".

Earlier in an address to his nation, he congratulated his people on their resilience in the face of Europe's biggest and deadliest war since the Second World War.

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy marking one-year since Russia's invasion at a ceremony in Kyiv. Credit: AP

"We survived the first day of the full-scale war. We didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but we clearly understood that for each tomorrow, you need to fight. And we fought," he said.

It was "the longest day of our lives. The hardest day of our modern history. We woke up early and haven’t fallen asleep since," he added.

In Ukraine, there were concerns that Russia might unleash another barrage of missiles to pile yet more sadness on today, but mercifully air raid sirens didn't sound over Kyiv.

Maria Kurbet, 77, cries at the grave of her son, a military serviceman killed in Bakhmut, during a memorial service in Bucha. Credit: AP

This afternoon G7 leaders met to discuss a conflict which has scarred Europe and has shaken the West.

A call on Friday afternoon saw Mr Sunak join fellow leaders, including US President Joe Biden, to discuss the war effort and how best to support Ukraine going forward.

In a joint statement, G7 leaders committed to intensifying “diplomatic, financial and military support for Ukraine” as well as “increasing the costs to Russia and those supporting its war effort”.

They also pledged that “solidarity will never waver in standing with Ukraine, in supporting countries and people in need, and in upholding the international order based on the rule of law”.

According to a Downing Street readout, Mr Sunak urged allies to “support Ukraine with long-term military and security assurances to send a strong message to President Putin that the global support was enduring”.

Ukrainian soldiers attend a service at the St Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral in Kyiv. Credit: AP

The UK remains a prominent supporter of Kyiv, with the government announcing earlier this year that Britain would be the first country to supply tanks to its armed forces.

But fears remain that the war could continue for at least another year, even as Ukraine insists that further support and weaponry can help bring the conflict to a conclusion.

Another country that is stepping up its support is Ukraine's western neighbour Poland, which has long warned of the threat to Europe posed by the Kremlin.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country has delivered four advanced Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

A woman cries during a memorial service in Bucha. Credit: AP

He told a news conference in Kyiv today that the tanks have actually arrived and aren't mere pledges on paper.

The prime minister said Poland will provide more Leopard tanks soon, as well as a number of upgraded, Soviet-era T-72 tanks.

This makes Poland the first nation to offer advanced tanks to Ukraine. It has pledged 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and Germany has promised an equal number.

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Valeriy Zaluzhny (right) talks to an officer at today's event in Sofia Square. Credit: AP

Other tank donor countries include Canada which has sent personnel to Poland to train Ukrainians.

Sweden, which last year along with Finland announced its bid to join Nato off the back of Putin's invasion, is also to send up to ten Leopard 2 tanks and HAWK anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.

Britain has said it is prepared to supply fighter jets to eastern European allies to enable them to release their Soviet-era planes to Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy holds the flag of a military unit as an officer kisses it. Credit: AP

The UK will be training Ukrainian pilots on Nato-standard jets, but allies have been reluctant to release the modern warplanes requested by the Ukrainian President.

Mr Sunak also announced last week that the UK will be the first country to provide Ukraine with long-range weapons.

As Western leaders discuss how best to equip Ukraine, they have renewed efforts to deprive Moscow's war machine of resources.

Today, the UK announced a fresh round of sanctions which bans the export of every item the Russian military has been found using in Ukraine.

Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in the war, which is showing no signs of slowing. Credit: AP

This includes aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components used in the production of drones.

Meanwhile, the United States announced a new round of sanctions on Russian firms, banks, manufacturers and around 250 people.

The action, taken in coordination with Group of Seven allies, seeks to punish alleged evaders of previous sanctions in a number of countries from the United Arab Emirates to Switzerland.

Japan, which hosted today's online summit of G7 countries, was also expected to present a set of "new ideas" for even more sanctions to impose against Russia.

"We call on third-countries or other international actors who seek to evade or undermine our measures to cease providing material support to Russia’s war, or face severe costs," the G7 said in a statement.

"To deter this activity around the world, we are taking actions against third-country actors materially supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine."

The G7, which includes Britain and the US, also vowed to prevent Russia from finding new ways to obtain advanced materials, technology and military equipment.

As Western allies rallied around Kyiv, the World Bank unveiled $2.5bn in extra grant financing from the US Agency for International Development to support Ukraine's budget and pay for the maintenance of key services.

Although China on Friday called for a ceasefire, peace was nowhere in sight. Ukraine previously rejected a pause in the fighting amid fears it would allow Russia to regroup militarily after bruising battlefield setbacks.

Mr Zelenskyy gave qualified support to China’s apparent new interest in playing a diplomatic role, saying: “The fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad.” “But the question is what follows the words,” he told journalists, adding: “The question is in the steps and where they will lead to.” A 12-point paper issued by China’s Foreign Ministry also urged an end to sanctions that aim to squeeze Russia’s economy.

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