Ukraine war: King praises Ukraine’s ‘courage’ on anniversary

  • By Rachel Russell
  • BBC News

In a message marking the first anniversary of the invasion, King Charles condemned Russia’s “full-scale attack” on Ukraine.

He praised the “remarkable courage and resilience” of the Ukrainian people after thousands were killed and injured in the conflict.

A minute’s silence was observed at 11:00 GMT in the UK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will later urge allies to “move fast” on arming Ukraine at the G7 meeting.

Ukrainian troops training in England took part in a minute’s silence outside No 10 Downing Street.

Mr Sunak was joined by his wife Akshata Murthy and Kyiv’s Ambassador to Britain Vadim Prystaiko.

The Ukrainian national anthem was sung after the memorial moment.

image caption,

Rishi Sunak observed a minute’s silence along with his wife Akshata Murthy, Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK Vadim Prystaiko and his wife Inna Prystaiko.

In his message, King Charles, who acknowledged the UK and allies’ solidarity with Ukraine throughout the year, said it was “heartbreaking”.To see that they are “doing everything possible to help in this difficult time”.

He said: “The world is watching in horror at all the needless suffering inflicted on Ukrainians, many of whom I am very happy to meet in England and, indeed, all over the world, from Romania to Canada.”

At a vigil on Thursday evening, a crowd heard an emotional reading of the Ukrainian poem Take Only Is Most Is Most Only by actress Dame Helen Mirren.

And Defense Secretary Ben Wallace praised the Ukrainian soldiers as “the bravest of the brave”.

The conflict, which began when Russia invaded on 24 February 2022, has killed or wounded at least 100,000 soldiers from each side, according to the US military.

Thousands of civilians have died as more than 13 million people have become refugees or displaced within Ukraine.

Rita and her four children were among those who fled during the early stages of the conflict. They now live in England with Rita’s British partner Andy.

He told BBC Two’s Newsnight that he “can’t forget” the “horrible sound, that panic, that fear” when Russian troops invaded.

Rita said her heart “aches” after witnessing how parts of Ukraine have changed since 12 months of conflict.

“The country is in agony,” he said. “I know what my country is like and how it can be, I know how beautiful it is. Now it’s different [but] It may return to that beautiful place.

“I can see summer – it’s getting hot, it’s green. That’s how I see Ukraine – lots of green trees with lots of flowers … with lots of smiles and tears of joy on people’s faces.”

image caption,

After settling in England, Rita has returned to Ukraine

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for peace between Russia and Ukraine as he reflects on anniversary

Meanwhile, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has announced new export restrictions on items that could be used by the Russian military.

Foreign Secretary James wisely said that the bans have been extended to many other products, including aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components.

Senior executives of Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear company, as well as bosses of two of Russia’s largest defense companies and four banks will also face sanctions.

Ukraine has been urging its Western backers to step up support, as Russia mobilizes ahead of an expected spring offensive.

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WATCH: Passionate Helen Mirren Reads Poetry for Ukraine

During a recent European tour, President Zelensky stepped up his calls to supply modern fighter jets to the West.

UK to train Ukrainian forces to fly Nato-standard aircraft But unlike other Western countries, it has yet to offer jets, suggesting it remains a long-term option.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK would be “very happy” to supply fighter jets to eastern European allies so they could release Soviet-era aircraft to Ukraine. He said they were already being used by Kiev and were a quicker way to boost Ukraine’s defenses than supplying British Typhoons.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s certainly going to be delivered, let’s put it that way. If a country approaches us and says we want to do it, the UK will be more than happy to hold back or actually cover up. Extra deployment of our aircraft for police and extra security, etc.”

“This is already happening in other countries across Europe over the last eight or nine months,” Mr Wallace added.

image source, Good pictures

image caption,

Rishi Sunak hosted Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyi during his visit to London earlier this month.

During a virtual meeting of leaders of the G7 group of advanced economies, Mr Sunak is expected to say an acceleration in favor of Ukraine would be “what it would take to change Putin’s mindset”.

“This has to be our priority now,” he adds. “Instead of an incremental approach, we need to go faster with artillery, armor and air defense.”

He is expected to make the case for supplying Ukraine with “long-range weapons” to disrupt Russia’s ability to target Ukraine’s infrastructure, as he promised the UK earlier this month.

Other senior UK politicians have sent messages to Ukraine on the anniversary of the war:

  • Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer called on the UK to “double down” on support for Ukraine.
  • Boris Johnson, the former prime minister who was in office when Russia invaded, has again called for arms to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “finish the job”.
  • Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davy paid tribute to the “fantastic acts of heroism in Ukraine” and said the UK would “stand in solidarity with Ukraine until it wins”.
  • SNP leader and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon wished “speedy victory to Ukraine” in a letter to Ukrainians in Scotland to mark the anniversary.

Additional reporting by Paul Seddon.

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