Ukraine on Saturday vowed to triumph over Russian “darkness” as it entered a new year of war weakened by a lack of Western aid and with Moscow emboldened by fresh gains. To mark the second anniversary, a virtual summit of G7 leaders was set to take place at Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attending. Follow FRANCE 24’s coverage of the two-year war anniversary.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” at dawn on February 24, 2022, many expected victory within days, but Ukraine fought back, forcing Russian troops into humiliating retreats.
Since then, however, Ukraine has suffered setbacks, with the failure of its 2023 counteroffensive.
- Ukraine faces problem finding new soldiers
Ukrainian army is facing problems finding fresh soldiers as, in addition to losses, the exhaustion of Ukrainian soldiers, some of whom have been deployed since the start of hostilities, means that rotations will also be necessary over the coming months. Kyiv passed a controversial bill to tighten rules on mobilization, as army recruiters roam the streets.
Ukraine’s military command has said 450,000 to 500,000 additional recruits are needed for the next phase of the war. Even if Ukraine succeeds in mobilizing that number, which is unlikely, it still would not be able to match the manpower of Russia, which has more than three times Ukraine’s population.
Lawmakers have spent months mulling over a controversial proposal to increase the conscription pool, as many Ukrainian men continue to evade the war in Ukrainian cities. Watch our report below.
- ‘We need to convince at least 5 million people to come back,’ says Ukraine deputy minister.
FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg is joined by Tetyana Berezhna, Ukraine’s deputy minister of economy, in Kyiv. According to her, Ukraine needs its economy to grow by 7%, “and for that, we need to convince at least 5 million people to come back”. To achieve that figure, Ukrainian authorities started a “grant program” to help Ukrainians “creating companies”.
- Putin ‘undermining democracy’ across globe, fighting military war in Ukraine & ‘hybrid war’ in West
Inna Sovsun, member of Ukraine’s parliament, deputy head of “GOLOS” Party, and senior lecturer at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, delivers her analysis of Russian aggression as the Russia-Ukraine war enters its third year.
- Ukraine’s Zelensky vows victory as Western leaders visit Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised victory against Russia on the second anniversary of the invasion on Saturday as his troops fight on despite a lack of Western aid and recent Russian gains.
“We will win,” he said at a ceremony at Kyiv’s Gostomel airport, which was targeted by Russia in the first days of the all-out assault in 2022.
Dear great people of a great country, I am immensely proud of each of you. I admire each one of you. I believe in each one of you. Any normal person wants the war to end. But none of us will allow Ukraine to end.
That is why when it comes to ending the war, we always add: on our… pic.twitter.com/MQttTK8Ex2
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2024
He spoke alongside the Canadian, Italian and Belgian prime ministers and EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen who came to Kyiv to mark the date.
Ukraine’s military chief Oleksandr Syrsky said he was confident of victory “because light always conquers darkness”.
- EU chiefs praise Ukrainian ‘resistance’ in visit to Kyiv
FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports from Kyiv, as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed that Europe would back Ukraine until it was “finally free” as she and three other Western leaders arrived in Kyiv to show solidarity on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The visit by von der Leyen and the prime ministers of Italy, Canada and Belgium – Giorgia Meloni, Justin Trudeau and Alexander De Croo – was a show of support as Ukraine suffers shortages of military supplies that are hurting it on the battlefield as Moscow grinds out territorial gains.
- UK pledges £245 million to boost Ukraine artillery reserves
Britain announced on Saturday a new £245 million ($311 million) defence package to help boost the production of “urgently needed artillery ammunition” for Ukraine, two years after war broke out with Russia.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said Ukraine’s armed forces “against all odds” had recaptured large parts of the land seized by Russia in its 2022 invasion. “But they cannot win this fight without the support of the international community – and that’s why we continue to do what it takes to ensure Ukraine can continue to fight towards victory,” he added.
The new funding will be used to “procure and invigorate supply chains to produce urgently needed artillery ammunition to boost Ukraine’s reserves”, said the ministry of defence (MoD). Ukraine has been “particularly noted for its highly effective use of its artillery”, the MoD added.
In an update to parliament on Thursday, Shapps confirmed the delivery of an additional 200 Brimstone anti-tank missiles, bringing the total number to more than 1,300. He also announced the United Kingdom will co-lead an international coalition that will supply thousands of drones to Ukraine.
- Two years after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine reorients its strategy to focus on defence
Two years after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the lack of troops and ammunition and the depth of Russia’s field fortifications are forcing Kyiv to adopt a more defensive strategy. As it waits for more Western support, the Ukrainian army is holding out for better days, as FRANCE 24’s Grégoire Sauvage reports.
- Ukraine vows triumph over Russian ‘darkness’
Ukrainian officials voiced defiance on the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, despite a bleak picture for Kyiv. “I am convinced that unity is our victory. And it will definitely happen. Because light always conquers darkness!” the Ukrainian army’s chief Oleksandr Syrsky said on social media.
Western leaders are in Kyiv and have pledged fresh millions to boost Ukraine’s military, But the overall picture remains dark for Ukraine due to the US Congress blocking a vital $60 billion aid package, on top of delays in promised European deliveries. US President Joe Biden renewed calls for Republican lawmakers to unblock the additional funding, warning that “history is waiting” and “failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten”.
- Ukraine attacks Russian steel plant with drones, Ukrainian source says
Ukraine attacked a steel plant belonging to Russia’s Novolipetsk RAO with drones overnight in a joint operation by the GUR military intelligence agency and SBU security service, a Ukrainian source said on Saturday.
The source told Reuters the attack had caused a major fire at the plant and staff had been evacuated.
“Raw materials from this enterprise are used to manufacture Russian missiles, artillery, drones. Therefore, it is a legitimate goal for Ukraine,” the source said, without specifying the location of the plant.
- Western leaders visit Kyiv for two-year war anniversary
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters & AP)
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