In a speech marking the first anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday vowed to push for victory and praised Ukrainians for their enduring strength.
“Our faith has grown stronger. Our morale has been reinforced. We endured the first day of a full-scale war,” Zelenskyy said in a defiant speech that referred to February 24, 2022, as the “hardest day” of Ukraine’s modern history.
“We didn’t know what would happen tomorrow, but we realized for sure: every tomorrow is worth fighting for.”
Zelenskyy, in a separate news conference marking the anniversary, said that Ukraine could win the war as long as its allies remained united “like a fist.” The remarks came as China, Russia’s closest ally, published a 12-step plan outlining steps for a ceasefire. But the plan has been roundly dismissed by Ukrainian allies, including NATO, as an empty public relations document.
Meanwhile, the United States on Friday announced a $2 billion support package that will include additional military support for Ukraine as well as new sanctions against the Kremlin and its allies, including 200 people and companies.
According to United Nations officials, at least 8,000 civilians have been killed since the start of Russia’s occupation. US officials estimate the number of Russian troops killed since the war is around 200,000; in November, the Biden administration said that they believed at least 100,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed.
Today, a year after bombs began to fall, Ukraine is still independent and free.
From Kherson to Kharkiv – Ukrainian fighters have reclaimed their land.
And in more than half of the territory Russia held last year, the Ukrainian flag proudly waves once more. pic.twitter.com/6pv7eBL9gj
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 24, 2023
Since the start of the war, Mother Jones has been on the scene in Ukraine, documenting the initial days of mass exodus, as well as the emotional toll of returning home—only to discover rubble and dust in its place. Kyiv-based journalist, Sam Skove, reported on the horrors inside Russian detention. In the piece, Skove told the story of Anatolii Harahatii, a Ukrainian photographer who was detained by Russian operatives under suspicion of aiding the Ukrainian military.
He was imprisoned for weeks, and tortured by beatings and electric shocks as his captors tried to elicit information since the Russians believed he had been telling Ukrainian troops their positions. Sometimes, it was punishment for saying some Ukrainian words rather than Russian ones as he was being interrogated. Anatolii, like many Ukrainians, speaks both languages.
To mark the one-year anniversary, Skove is back on Mother Jones today to tell the awe-inspiring story of the evacuation effort that started with one humble group chat.