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Kyiv marks year of war with anxiety, Zelenskyy rallying cry

By Ivana Kottasova | CNN

A year after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine believing he would take Kiev within days, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky struck a defiant tone, insisting that he was “certain” that his country would win the war.

Responding to a question from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at a press conference in the capital, Zelenskyy said: “Victory will be inevitable. I’m sure there will be a win.”

“We have everything for it. We have the motivation, the security, the friends, the diplomacy. You’ve all come together for this,’ Zelenskyy said. “If we all do our important homework, victory will be inevitable.”

Russia launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine eight years after forcibly annexing the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

But the plan to wrest control from Zelensky’s pro-European government failed. A year after Russian tanks rolled into the country, Ukraine is still fighting and has managed to repel Moscow’s advance north of Kiev and in some eastern and southern parts of the country.

The Ukrainian president has repeatedly rejected the idea of ​​negotiating a peace deal that would see Ukraine lose some of its territory. On Friday, he said he would not negotiate with Putin — even though he was willing to talk to him before the war started.

“It’s not the same man. There’s no one there to talk to,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Russian president and deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that Russia’s goal was to “pull the boundaries of threats to our country as far as possible, even if these are the borders of Poland.” ”

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Zelenskyy used the first anniversary of the war to rally troops and again ask for international aid for his country. He handed out awards to soldiers and visited wounded servicemen before holding the rare press conference.

Earlier on Friday morning, the Ukrainian leader addressed members of the army in Kiev. He told them that it was they who would determine the future of the country.

“It is you who decide whether we are all going to exist. Or Ukraine will exist. Every day. Every hour. It is you – Ukrainian soldiers – who will decide,” he said.

Ukraine’s international allies showed solidarity on Friday, with landmarks around the world lit up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and new weapons and funding announcements.

The United States announced an amount of 2 billion dollars security package to Ukraine, including new funding for contracts including HIMARS missiles, 155-millimeter artillery munitions, drones, counter-drone equipment, demining equipment and secure communications equipment.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the international community not to let Putin’s crimes become “our new normal” during the United Nations Security Council.

Germany said it would send another four Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, increasing the original commitment from 14 to 18. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also pledged to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

And Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he plans to present the idea of ​​imposing new sanctions against Russia in a virtual meeting with G7 leaders and Zelensky.

Fear, determination

But there was a noticeable sense of fear in Kiev on Friday, as many residents feared Russia would launch new attacks on the anniversary day.

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Public transport was less busy than usual during the morning rush hour and many parents decided to keep their children home from school.

Security was increased, with visibly more troops and police officers patrolling the streets.

While air raid sirens are a daily habit in Kyiv, there hasn’t been a major attack on the city for a few weeks, meaning when the alarms are triggered, people have to assess the level of risk.

Across the country, ordinary Ukrainians celebrated the day in their own way.

Kathalina Pahitsky, a 16-year-old student, went to St. Michael’s Golden-domed Monastery in Kiev to lay flowers in memory of two former students from her school who lost their lives during the war.

It was a bitterly cold morning in Kiev, but Pahitsky said she felt it was her duty as student president of her school to represent her classmates and pay her respects to the fallen heroes.

“They defended our country on the front line. One of them died after being wounded, the other stepped on a mine,” she told CNN.

With a few red flowers adorned with blue and yellow ribbons, she said that those killed in war should be remembered and celebrated.



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