War in Ukraine: two years after the Russian invasion, thousands of Europeans demonstrate in support of kyiv

While thousands of people showed their support for Ukraine on Saturday February 24, on the anniversary of the invasion by Moscow's troops, in Kiev, the G7 was discussing new support measures for the country

War in Ukraine: two years after the Russian invasion, thousands of Europeans demonstrate in support of kyiv

While thousands of people showed their support for Ukraine on Saturday February 24, on the anniversary of the invasion by Moscow's troops, in Kiev, the G7 was discussing new support measures for the country. President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The G7 promised, Saturday February 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion, to “raise [Moscow] the cost of the war” in Ukraine, following a virtual summit where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky , urged his allies to deliver military aid “on time” to his weakened country as it enters a third year of war.

“We will continue to drive up the cost of war [for Russia], lower its revenue streams, and impede its efforts to build its war machine, as demonstrated by the sanctions packages we recently adopted,” they said. G7 leaders said in a joint statement. kyiv’s allies also denounced the aid provided by Tehran, Beijing and Pyongyang to Moscow, and promised to “act against third-party actors who materially support Russia’s war.”

Earlier, Volodymyr Zelensky had asked them for military help, and quickly. “You know very well what we need to protect our skies, to strengthen our land army, to sustain and continue our successes at sea, and you know that we need this on time, and we are counting on you,” he said. he declared.

After two years of a grueling war, the Ukrainian army is undermanned and demanding ammunition and more air defense systems to contain an offensive Russian army.

kyiv is currently deprived of aid from its main American ally of 60 billion dollars (55 billion euros), blocked by the Republican rivals of Democratic President Joe Biden, and that of the Europeans has fallen behind schedule.

Ukraine will “defeat” Russia, Mr. Zelensky nevertheless proclaimed in a speech at Gostomel military airport near kyiv, the scene of a key battle with the Russians in the first days of the invasion. “We are fighting for this. For 730 days. And we will win, on the best day of our lives,” he said. Russian President Vladimir “Putin must lose absolutely everything, like here in Gostomel,” added Mr. Zelensky, surrounded by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the Italian Council, Giorgia Meloni, the Prime Minister Canadian, Justin Trudeau, and the head of the Belgian government, Alexander de Croo, who came for the second anniversary of the invasion.

When Vladimir Putin announced that Russian troops were entering Ukrainian territory at dawn on February 24, 2022, he believed he would take kyiv in a few days, before being forced into humiliating retreats by the Ukrainian resistance. In 2023, it was Ukraine which experienced a major disappointment with the failure of its major counter-offensive, so much so that the Russian army, with an economy geared towards the war effort, today finds itself once again in a position of strength.

Faced with the needs of his country and its army, Mr. Zelensky continued to consolidate his alliances by signing bilateral security agreements on Saturday with Canada and Italy, as he has already done with several European countries, like Germany or France. Canada will provide kyiv with approximately $2.2 billion in financial and military aid in 2024.

Ursula von der Leyen announced that the European Union (EU) would pay 4.5 billion euros to kyiv in March, a first tranche of an envelope of 50 billion euros approved in February by the Twenty seven. During a meeting with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, reaffirmed the EU's full solidarity with Ukraine. The EU had promised to supply Kiev with one million shells over the past year, but is expected to reach just over half of that target by next month's deadline.

Also present in Ukraine, in Odessa, where she went with her Ukrainian counterpart, the head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock, recognized that kyiv notably lacked long-range weapons to defend itself.

In many European cities, thousands of people showed their support for Ukraine on Saturday, on the anniversary of the invasion by Moscow's troops.

In Paris and in around ten other French cities, Ukrainians and French people, often wrapped in the yellow and blue flag of Ukraine, gathered to express their solidarity but also their concern at a time when the forces of Kiev, lacking weapons and ammunition, are in a very difficult position facing Russian troops.

In the capital, a few thousand people marched between the Places de la République and the Bastille, in an imposing calm, sometimes broken by “Putin assassin! », “Russia out of Ukraine! ". Among the demonstrators, some Russian opponents from the Russia Liberties association, and elected officials, such as the (environmental) senator from Paris Yannick Jadot.

In Marseille, a twin city with the large Ukrainian port of Odessa, between 150 and 200 people, in a wave of Ukrainian flags, gathered in front of the city hall and observed a minute of silence in memory of the Ukrainians who died in combat . In Nice, 500 people marched on the Promenade des Anglais, according to the Franco-Ukrainian Association of the Côte d’Azur. In Toulouse, around 200 people gathered in front of a statue of the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Chevchenko. In Bordeaux, several hundred demonstrators marched under the slogans “Help Ukraine” and “Arm Ukraine”. In Strasbourg, at least 300 people gathered in front of the Russian consulate, waving Ukrainian and European flags. Around ten children went to leave red-stained stuffed animals in front of the consulate, while demonstrators chanted “Terrorist Putin! », “Stop the war! » or even “Arm Ukraine! » In Rouen, around 500 people gathered in front of the town hall and a wreath of flowers was laid in honor of the Ukrainian dead. There were a few hundred demonstrating in Brest, Rennes and Vannes.

In Germany, some 5,000 people, according to police, gathered in Berlin carrying Ukrainian flags or banners: “Defend Ukraine” or “Arm Ukraine Now.” » There were as many demonstrators in Cologne, and several thousand others were recorded in Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart in particular.

In Britain, several thousand people marched from Hyde Park to demonstrate in Trafalgar Square in a sea of ​​Ukrainian flags. In Dublin, thousands marched in a rally organized by the Ukrainian community in the country, which has hosted 100,000 refugees since the start of the war. In Bern, where several thousand people gathered, political leaders asked Switzerland, a neutral country which refuses the export of Swiss weapons to Ukraine, to commit further to help the country at war. In Sweden, several thousand people also gathered in Stockholm under the slogan “Russia out of Ukraine”.

Rallies also took place in Belgrade, where several hundred Serbs and Russian citizens, having chosen exile after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, joined a rally led by the Ukrainian ambassador. In Italy, a few hundred people took part in a demonstration in Milan called “Victory for Peace” at the initiative of pro-Ukrainian associations. In Greece, four hundred people gathered in the center of Athens. In Madrid, there were some 1,500 people, including many Ukrainians (the country will welcome 83,000 in 2022), marching brandishing signs affirming that “Donbass is Ukraine” or castigating Putin “the assassin.”

Faced with Ukraine's difficulties, Russia, for its part, prides itself on increasing its assaults on the front and claims successes, in particular the capture of the fortress town of Avdiïvka on February 17. “The advantage is on our side,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a visit to his troops, according to a statement released Saturday.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin once again saluted his “heroes” who are fighting Ukraine on Friday. Some 500,000 men signed up in 2023 and about 50,000 more in January of this year alone.

The Russian opposition has been decimated by a merciless campaign of repression, culminating on February 16 with the death in an Arctic prison of the leading figure of Kremlin critics, Alexeï Navalny.

Three weeks before the Russian presidential election in mid-March, Mr. Putin's hold on power seems more complete than ever. On Saturday in Moscow, police made several arrests, including journalists, during a gathering of wives of mobilized soldiers demanding their return from Ukraine.

As for the sanctions that cut Russia off from the Western world and initially shook the Russian economy, the Kremlin has continued to mock them, while circumventing them. They did not prevent the defense industry from increasing its production.

The new round of Western sanctions is supposed to remedy this, but Russian officials have brushed them aside. The number two of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, has sworn vengeance and to make Western “enemies” “suffer”.