Hundreds gather in Manchester to mark two years since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine

24022024 - Ukrainian march Manchester - Granada
Hundreds took to the streets of Manchester on the second anniversary of Russia's full invasion of Ukraine. Credit: ITV News

Hundreds took to the streets of Manchester in a show of solidarity with Ukraine, two years on from the anniversary of Russian's invasion.

Russia began its full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022, six years after Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine were invaded and later annexed.

Since then, almost 3,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war with Russia have arrived in Greater Manchester after being sponsored to stay at homes across the city-region.

The number of Ukrainian arrivals under the visa schemes has now topped 200,000 across the UK.

The event to mark the second anniversary of the war took began in Piccadilly Gardens where a group of Ukrainians have been meeting every weekend since Russia's full-scale invasion started to raise awareness of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Alina Kostrubitska was one of the organisers of today's march. The refugee, who worked as a journalist before being forced to flee, said every Ukrainian should take to the streets to make their voices heard.

The 33-year-old continued: "I've found a second home now.

"I'm really grateful to my host family here, but of course, I feel that my first home is in Ukraine and Ukraine is fighting for its freedom."

Alina Melnyk was also among those who gathered today. The singer goes to the same spot in the centre of Manchester every week to perform songs of peace from her home country.

Draped in a Ukrainian flag and wearing a headband with the same colours, Alina said: "Russia is trying to destroy our culture every single day and we are trying to show that we have our culture, which is great, which is colourful, which is rich - and we are trying to celebrate it."

Protesters carried "stop war" signs as they made their way through the streets. Credit: ITV Granada

Maria Romanenko, 31, a Ukrainian journalist from Kyiv who moved to Manchester with her partner Jez when the full-scale war started, said: "It's very sad, it's not something I expected to happen."But on the other hand, the fact that we are still fighting and resisting, and everyday defending our land against the second biggest army in the world, is obviously a good thing. Ukrainians are still carrying on, despite all the physical and mental challenges.

"That speaks a lot about Ukraine as a nation and about our identity and culture."