One year into invasion, Ukraine mourns dead and vows victory

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Ukraine honored its dead and vowed to keep fighting on Friday, while Russia told the world to accept “the realities” of its war but faced new Western sanctions on the invasion’s anniversary.

At a ceremony in Kyiv’s St Sophia Square, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy bestowed medals on soldiers and the mother of one killed. He fought back tears at the national anthem.

“We have become one family … Ukrainians have sheltered Ukrainians, opened their homes and hearts to those who were forced to flee the war,” he said in a televised address.

“We withstand all threats, shelling, cluster bombs, cruise missiles, kamikaze drones, blackouts and cold … And we will do everything to gain victory this year.”

Zelenskiy reiterated calls for more Western weaponry and attended an online summit with U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies who pledged to intensify their support.

“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase the people‚Äôs love of liberty,” Biden said on Twitter.

“Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never.”

Washington announced a new $2 billion package of military aid for Ukraine and a raft of additional sanctions and tariffs hitting Russia’s mining and metals industries, as well as companies from third countries accused of supplying Moscow with restricted goods.

However, Biden reiterated in an interview with ABC News that he had no plans to send Ukraine the F-16 fighter jets Zelenskiy has been seeking for months, saying the U.S. does not currently see a rationale for sending the advanced aircraft.

“I am ruling it out for now,” Biden said.

G7 members Canada and Britain unveiled similar measures, as did the 27-nation European Union, after some hectic last-minute negotiations.

At the same time, Ukraine’s military said Russia had doubled the number of ships on active duty in the Black Sea on Friday and predicted it could be preparing for more missile strikes.

For Ukrainians, who have spent much of the year in fear and grief and supporting the war effort any way they can, the anniversary meant reflection.

“When an innocent person’s life is taken before your own eyes when someone aims at a child, you just ask ‘Why? What for?” said Alla Nechyporenko, 50, whose husband was shot dead and 14-year-old son wounded at a Russian checkpoint in Bucha, near Kyiv, early in the war.

In Russia, where publicly criticizing the war is punishable by long prison terms, a human rights group said dozens of people were detained by police for actions to commemorate victims of the invasion, in some cases just for placing flowers.

There were no official public events and the mood was muted.

“I really want peace, I really want it all to end as soon as possible,” said Vera, a pensioner.

Igor, walking through Moscow, said Russia must win. “We’re looking forward to it ending successfully. That’s all we can expect. We have no other options.”

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