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Vigils and a wrecked tank as Ukraine’s allies mark year of war

Berlin, Germany
Reuters

Ukraine’s allies around the world lit up buildings in yellow and blue, held protests and candlelight vigils and prepared new sanctions on Moscow on Friday in a collective show of support on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

As the war grinds on with no sign of ending, anti-Russian protesters also carried out symbolic gestures. In Berlin, they left a rusting Russian T-72 tank outside the Russian embassy that was destroyed and captured in the first weeks of the war.

The remains of a destroyed Russian T-72 tank, secured from the Ukrainian village of Dmytrivka, outside Kyiv are on display near the Russian embassy at Unter den Linden boulevard

The remains of a destroyed Russian T-72 tank, secured from the Ukrainian village of Dmytrivka, outside Kyiv are on display near the Russian embassy at Unter den Linden boulevard, during an event to mark the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Berlin, Germany, on 24th February, 2023. PICTURE: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

In Belgrade, pro-Ukrainian groups left a bloody cake decorated with a skull in front of the Russian embassy.

Governments from Washington to London to Berlin have said they will stick by Ukraine for as long as it takes, sending aid and advanced weaponry to Kyiv and ratcheting up sanctions pressure on Moscow. 

In Germany, which has ditched its “Wandel durch Handel” (change through trade) approach to Russia and funnelled weapons to Ukraine, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the invasion was an assault on the lessons of the two world wars.

“It is an attack on everything we stand for,” he said, calling Russia’s invasion an “epochal breach”.



In Poland, sandwiched between Germany and Ukraine, protesters held up a banner reading “Russia is a terrorist state” and sounded sirens outside a residential building for Russian embassy employees in Warsaw.

Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki went to Kyiv and, together with Ukraine’s Prime Minister, laid flowers at the Wall of Remembrance of those who died for Ukraine. Warsaw also announced it had sent Leopard tanks to Ukraine. 

The United States marked the anniversary by announcing new sanctions against Russia and its allies, new export controls and tariffs aimed at undermining Moscow’s ability to wage war. 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held a minute’s silence outside Downing Street before singers dressed in traditional red and white costume sang Ukraine’s nation anthem. Britain also issued new sanctions.

However, underscoring how the war has caused global divisions, China presented a 12-point paper for a ceasefire that Ukraine swiftly rejected and Europe treated with caution. 

There were divisions too at the G20 meeting in India, where the host nation wants to avoid using the word “war” in any communique to describe the conflict. 

Meanwhile, Pope Francis said in a tweet: “Let us remain close to the tormented Ukrainian people, who continue to suffer, and let us ask ourselves: has everything possible been done to stop the war?”

The sails of the Sydney Opera House get illuminated with the colours of the Ukrainian Flag to mark one year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, in Sydney, Australia, February 24, 2023.

The sails of the Sydney Opera House get illuminated with the colours of the Ukrainian Flag to mark one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, in Sydney, Australia, on 24th February, 2023. PICTURE: Reuters/Jaimi Joy

Landmarks lit
Paris lit the Eiffel Tower in the Ukrainian flag colours of blue and yellow on Thursday night and people draped in Ukrainian flags, with hands on their hearts, gathered at a vigil in London holding a banner: “If you stand for freedom, stand for Ukraine.”

EU institutions were also lit in Ukrainian colours, along with the Sydney Opera House. 

In Italy, the Senate will illuminate its Palazzo Madama building in the colours of the flag from sunset on Friday to sunrise on Saturday. 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a video message: “The free world owes the Ukrainian women and men.”

For the activists outside the embassy in Berlin, the wrecked tank was a symbol that the invasion would ultimately fail.

“The broken tank signifies downfall. Ukraine is going to be Putin’s Stalingrad,” said Wieland Giebel, curator of the Berlin Story Bunker museum, referring to Germany’s defeat in a major battle in World War II. 

– With reporting by Reuters bureaux around the world

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