May 19. 2024. 1:01

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Ukraine war: West steps up sanctions on Russia as Zelenskiy recalls ‘year of pain’


It is one year since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine. Our writers at home and abroad continue to bring you complete coverage of the conflict that has reshaped the world.

Here’s a short summary of Friday’s events

  • An adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said any end to the war must see Russia withdraw to Ukraine’s 1991 borders
  • Russia claims to have killed 240 Ukrainian soldiers in ongoing front line offensive move
  • A destroyed Russian tank has been placed outside the Russian embassy in Berlin, writes Derek Scally
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised enduring Irish support for the country after a year of war
  • Daniel McLaughlin reports from Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv where structures may be damaged and lives lost but second city’s spirit still defies Russia
  • Tears of pride and sorrow as Ukrainians in Ireland mark year since Russian invasion, writes Ronan McGreevy
  • Ukraine honoured its soldiers and received its first Western-made tanks from Poland as allies vowed to maintain support for Kyiv

[ Full coverage of the conflict and the anniversary ]


Zelenskiy: ‘Russia must lose in Ukraine’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy marked the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion with a sombre message of defiance. Video: Reuters

Russia has to lose its war in Ukraine so it stops seeking to conquer territories it once controlled, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday, the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

“Russia must lose in Ukraine,” Mr Zelenskiy told a conference in Lithuania via video-link.

“Russian revanchism must forever forget about Kyiv and Vilnius, about Chisinau and Warsaw, about our brothers in Latvia and Estonia, in Georgia and every other country that is now threatened.”

Lithuania is a member of Nato and the European Union that was once under the control of Moscow.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Zelenskiy said on Telegram: “This will be the year of our victory.”

“On 24 February, millions of us made a choice. Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. Not fleeing, but facing. Facing the enemy. Resistance and struggle. It was a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity. And this is a year of our invincibility. We know that this will be the year of our victory!” – Additional reporting Reuters


Thousands turn up to GPO to mark anniversary of Russian invasion

“One year, 365 days, 8,760 hours and 525,600 minutes,” read a hand drawn poster held by a Ukrainian refugee outside the GPO on Friday evening at a demonstration to mark the Russian invasion.

February 24th is a date that will live in infamy for Ukrainians. There were tears among the thousands who gathered outside the GPO to mark the first anniversary of the invasion. The venue was deliberately chosen as a reminder of Ireland’s own struggle to nationhood with the GPO in the centre of O’Connell Street, Charles Stuart Parnell at one end and Daniel O’Connell at the other.

The crowd shouted “thank you Ireland” in between singing the Ukrainian national anthem and repeating chants of “Slava Ukraini”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin described the Russian invasion as an “affront to humanity” and its armed forces behaviour in Ukraine as the actions of a “rogue state”.

He promised the Ukrainian people living in Ireland that they would have the continuing support of the Irish Government. All the main parties in the Dáil were represented at the rally.


World Bank announces $2.5bn in additional grant financing for Ukraine

The World Bank has announced $2.5 billion (€2.3 billion) in additional grant financing for Ukraine to support the country’s budget and to maintain essential services.

The funds will go towards supporting Ukraine’s key sectors, including health care, schools, payment of pensions, payments for internally displaced people, social assistance programs, and wages for employees providing core government services, a statement from the World Bank said.

The president of the World Bank group, David Malpass, said: “One year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world continues to witness the horrific destruction inflicted on the country and its people. We will continue supporting the people of Ukraine through urgent repair projects and coordination with the government for recovery and reconstruction efforts.” – Guardian


EU fails to agree new round of Russian sanctions

European Union countries were unable for a third day running on Friday to agree on new sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine a year ago, with Poland rejecting Italy’s demand for laxer new curbs on rubber imports, diplomats said.

Poland said the proposed restrictions on EU imports of Russia rubber included such a big quota of imports exempted and such long transition periods that they would have no effect in practice.

Other EU countries were baffled that Warsaw — a leading Russia hawk in the bloc — was risking having no new sanctions announced on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s attack against Ukraine over just one element of a broader package.

“This is very bad optics. What was supposed to be key here is a message of solidarity with Ukraine on this special day,” said one diplomat involved in the confidential negotiations between the 27 EU countries in the bloc’s hub Brussels. – Reuters


US warns UN not to be fooled by calls for unconditional truce

US secretary of state Antony Blinken warned the United Nations security council on Friday that it should not be fooled by calls for a temporary or unconditional ceasefire in Ukraine, saying a “just and durable” peace cannot allow Russia to rest and rearm.

“Any peace that legitimises Russia’s seizure of land by force will weaken the [UN] charter and send a message to would-be aggressors everywhere that they can invade countries and get away with it,” Blinken said.

“No member of this council should call for peace while supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine and on the UN charter.”

The 193-member UN General Assembly overwhelmingly isolated Russia on Thursday, calling for a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace” in line with the founding UN charter and again demanding Moscow withdraw its troops and stop fighting. – Reuters


G7 to take action against countries supporting ‘Russia’s war’

The Group of Seven nations (G7) is taking actions against third-country actors “materially supporting Russia’s war in Ukraine,” the bloc said on Friday as it reaffirmed “its unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

“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 United States and Britain, which are part of the G7, slapped further sanctions on Moscow earlier on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

The group said it will continue its efforts to ensure “Russia pays for Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction.”

G7 said it was taking additional measures relating to Russia’s financial sector to “further undermine Russia’s capacity to wage its illegal aggression,” adding it would target additional Russian financial institutions. ‐ Reuters


Kyiv and Moscow welcome China’s intervention in peace process

The president of Ukraine has given qualified support for China’s new pronouncements about the war in his country, saying Beijing’s interest is “not bad”.

“China has shown its thoughts. I believe that the fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad,” president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said at a news conference on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.

“But the question is what follows the words. The question is in the steps and where they will lead to.”

China called for a ceasefire and peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in a vaguely worded proposal released on Friday that analysts said was unlikely to deliver results.

Mr Zelenskiy said there were points in the Chinese proposals that he agreed with “and there are those that we don’t”.

“But it’s something,” he added

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said Moscow appreciated China’s plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and said it was open to achieving the goals of what it calls its “special military operation” through political and diplomatic means. Zakharova added that this would mean recognising “new territorial realities” in Ukraine.


Zelenskiy says victory over Russia inevitable if Ukraine’s partners do their ‘homework’

The Ukrainian president has told a news conference on Friday in Kyiv that victory over Russia was “inevitable” if all Ukraine’s partners did their “homework”.

He also said he wants countries from Latin America and Africa, as well as China and India, to join a peace formula proposed by Kyiv to end the war with Russia.

He called for a summit with Latin American leaders and said Kyiv should take steps to build relations with African countries. – Reuters


Russian ambassador interrupts minute’s silence at UN meeting

In New York, the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, has interrupted a minute’s silence during a meeting of the UN Security Council.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, had called for a minute’s silence to honour “the victims of the aggression”.

As members of the assembly stood up, Nebenzya began tapping his microphone and asked for the floor.

“We are getting up on our feet to honour the memory of all victims of what has happened in Ukraine, starting in 2014.

“All of those who perished. All lives are priceless,” he said, appearing to refer to Russian lives lost in the conflict. – Guardian


We thank PM @RishiSunak,