On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed in an address that the war would not stop “until the Russian murderers” face the “judgment of God.”
Zelensky congratulated Ukrainians for enduring a year-long war, reminding them that most analysts predicted a Russian “special operation” to overthrow Zelensky’s administration.
The Ukrainian leader also noted the tremendous loss of civilian life because of the war.
On February 24, 2022, Russia announced a “special operation” to vacate the Ukrainian presidency following Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Moscow recognized Donbass, Donetsk, and Luhansk.
Putin argued the move was necessary because Zelensky was a “Nazi” illegitimately occupying the presidency due to the ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
In 2014, Zelensky was nothing more than a professional comedian with no sign of political ambitions.
Zelensky defeated the president who succeeded Yanukovych, Petro Poroshenko.
At the time, Critics confused Zelensky as a “pro-Russian” candidate.
“Ukraine has surprised the world. Ukraine has inspired the world. Ukraine has united the world,” Zelensky said in his address on Friday.
Zelensky recalled the launch of the operation a year ago, saying it was “the longest day of our lives.”
“We did not raise the white flag and began to defend the blue and yellow. We were not afraid, we did not break down, we did not surrender,” Zelensky said.
“The symbol of this was the border guards of Zmiinyi Island and the route they told the Russian warship,” he added.
Zmiinyi Island is a small territory that Russia temporarily possessed at the beginning of the war.
Supporters of Ukraine began spreading the rumors that Russian forces killed all Ukrainian soldiers on the island. Still, the last soldier responded to an incoming Russian vessel sayinf “go fuck yourself,” before being killed.
But later, Russia confirmed the soldiers were actually alive, even though Zelensky claimed they were deceased.
The exchange between Russia and Ukraine remains unclear.
“Our faith has grown stronger. Our morale has been reinforced,” Zelensky continued on Friday.
“We endured the first day of a full-scale war. We didn’t know what would happen tomorrow, but we realized for sure: every tomorrow is worth fighting for!”
He also addressed Ukrainians living in territories Russia annexed
“Our citizens who are now under temporary occupation: Ukraine has not abandoned you, has not forgotten about you,” Zelensky promised, “has not given up on you. One way or another, we will liberate all our lands. We will do everything for Ukraine to return.”
“And to all those who are now forced to stay abroad, we will do everything for you to return to Ukraine. We will do everything to make it possible,” he concluded.
Zelensky went on to acknowledge those killed in the invasion, saying, “Almost everyone has at least one contact in their phone who will never pick up the phone again.”
“We will not erase their names from the phone or from our own memory,” Zelensky asserted.
“We will never forget them. We will never forgive that. We will never rest until the Russian murderers face deserved punishment. The punishment of the International Tribunal. The judgment of God. Of our warriors. Or all of them together,” he added.
Zelensky thanked the West for the billions of taxpayer money invested in his country’s military weaponry.
The war dragged in for a year due to the acquisition of European and American weaponry, which prevented Russia from being able to take over the capital.
While Putin insisted that the objective was to protect ethnic Russians, his initial speech annexing Donbass indicated he believed Ukraine had no right to sovereignty.
“Ukraine is not just a neighbor to us. … Since ancient times, people from ancient southwestern Russian lands were calling themselves Russians and Orthodox,” Putin said. “Modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia – to be more exact, by Bolshevik communist Russia.”
“Ukraine has never had stable traditions of their own statehood,” he insisted.
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