"We did not raise the white flag" – Zelenskiy congratulates Ukrainians for bravely resisting one year of war

/ bne IntelliNews
By Dominic Culverwell in Lviv February 24, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the nation on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

With the war-weary nation ready for a new round of strikes to mark the date, Zelenskiy harked back to the first days of the war and the horror that unfurled last year when millions were forced to flee and pick up arms.

“We woke up early and haven't fallen asleep since,” he said.

“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,” he added.

He congratulated Ukrainians on their bravery and their willingness to fight, despite the Kremlin’s claim that Kyiv would fall in just three days.

“They threatened that in 72 hours, we would not exist. But we survived the fourth day. And then the fifth. And today, we have been standing for exactly one year. And we still know: every tomorrow is worth fighting for,” Zelenskiy stated.

He thanked all Ukrainian defenders and security workers who made it possible to withstand Russia’s ruthless invasion in the first months of the war, including the Special Operations Forces, the Security Service, the National Guard, the police and the territorial defence units.

Zelenskiy also highlighted the shocking human rights atrocities Russia committed in Kharkiv, Mariupol, Mykolaiv, Kramatorsk, Bucha, Irpin and Borodyanka that led to its expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council.

“The whole world clearly realised what the "Russian world" really means. What Russia is capable of,” he said.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that the world also got to see what Ukrainians were capable of and the heroic actions of the Armed Forces, the Azovstal defenders, as well as the “hero cities” that suffered from brutal Russian occupations.

In addition to the fighters and security service, President Zelenskiy also thanked emergency workers, from the doctors who perform surgeries under bombardment, to the firefighters who continue to rescue people from the rubble.

“And our railway workers who have been evacuating hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians since the beginning of the war without sleep or rest,” he added.

Zelenskiy congratulated Ukrainians on their successes in liberating territories from Russian occupation and the counter-offensives over the summer and autumn in the regions of Kharkiv and Kherson that saw Ukraine retake vast swathes of land.

“Grandfathers used to tell their grandchildren how they beat the Nazis. Now grandchildren tell their grandfathers how they beat the Rashists,” he said.

Zelenskiy acknowledged the assistance from allies that have helped Ukraine in its battles. As well, he thanked Ukraine’s “foreign policy army” for achieving new sanctions and recognition of Russia “as a terrorist state.”

Despite the pain Ukraine has endured over the last year, with “every Ukrainian” losing someone, Zelenskiy is adamant that Russia will be defeated and punished.

“We will never rest until the Russian murderers face deserved punishment. The punishment of the International Tribunal,” he stated.

Noting the unity and pride of Ukrainians, the President said that 95% of the country believes in a Ukrainian victory and described all citizens as “one big army.”

Addressing the people still living under occupation, Zelenskiy assured them that they have not been abandoned or forgotten. He stressed that Ukraine will “liberate all our lands” and bring back all of its soldiers.

“It was a year of resilience. A year of care. A year of bravery. A year of pain. A year of hope. A year of endurance. A year of unity,” he said.

“Its main result is that we endured. We were not defeated. And we will do everything to gain victory this year,” he added, ending the emotional address.

Although Zelenskiy remains a divisive figure in Ukrainian politics, he has no doubt proved to be a respectable wartime leader and has ensured that Ukraine has a steady supply of ammunition and funding from its allies. His daily updates are a source of information and stability for many Ukrainians across the country. 

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