Daily Camera (Boulder)
As Ukraine marks year of war, leader vows to secure victory
Ukraine’s leader pledged Friday to push for victory in 2023 as he and other Ukrainians marked the somber anniversary of the Russian invasion that upended their lives and Europe’s security.
It was Ukraine’s “longest day,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, but the country’s dogged resistance a year on has proven that “every tomorrow is worth fighting for.”
On a day of commemorations, reflection and tears, the Ukrainian president’s defiant tone captured the national mood of resilience in the face of Europe’s biggest and deadliest war since World War II.
Zelenskyy, who has himself become a symbol of Ukraine’s refusal to bow to Moscow, said Ukrainians proved themselves to be invincible during “a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity.”
“We have been standing for exactly one year,” Zelenskyy said. Feb. 24, 2022, he said, was “the longest day of our lives. The hardest day of our modern history. We woke up early and haven’t fallen asleep since.”
Ukrainians wept at memorials for their tens of thousands of dead — a toll growing inexorably as fighting rages in eastern Ukraine in particular. Although Friday marked the anniversary of the full-scale invasion, combat between Russian-backed forces and Ukrainian troops has raged in the country’s east since 2014. New video from there shot with a drone for The Associated Press showed how the town of Marinka has been razed, along with others.
The killing continued: Russian shelling killed another three civilians and wounded 19 others in the most recent 24-hour spell, Ukraine’s presidential office said.
Around the country, Ukrainians looked back at a year that changed their lives and at the clouded future.
“I can sum up the last year in three words: Fear, love, hope,” Oleksandr Hranyk, a school director in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, said.
Lining up in the capital, Kyiv, to buy anniversary commemorative postage stamps, Tetiana Klimkova described her heart as “falling and hurting.”
Still, “this day has become a symbol for me that we have survived for a whole year and will continue to live,” she said. “On this day, our children and grandchildren will remember how strong Ukrainians are mentally, physically, and spiritually.”
Although China on Friday called for a cease-fire, peace was nowhere in sight. Ukraine previously rejected a pause in the fighting for fear it would allow Russia to regroup militarily after bruising battlefield setbacks.
Zelenskyy gave qualified support to China’s apparent new interest in playing a diplomatic role, saying: “The fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad.”
“But the question is what follows the words,” he said during a wide-ranging news conference. “The question is in the steps and where they will lead to.”
A 12-point paper issued by China’s Foreign Ministry also urged an end to sanctions that aim to squeeze Russia’s economy.
That suggestion also looked like a non-starter, given that Western nations are working to further tighten the sanctions noose, not loosen it. Both the U.K. and U.S. imposed more sanctions Friday.
Ukraine is readying another military push to roll back Russian forces with the help of weaponry that has poured in from the West. NATO member Poland said Friday that it had delivered four advanced Leopard 2A4 tanks, making it the first country to hand the German-made armor to Ukraine.
The prime minister of Poland said on a visit to Kyiv that more Leopards are coming. Poland’s defense minister said contributions from other countries would help form Ukraine’s first Leopard battalion of 31 tanks.
“Ukraine is entering a new period, with a new task — to win,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.
“It will not be easy. But we will manage,” he added. “There is rage and a desire to avenge the fallen.”
Air raid alarms didn’t sound Friday in Kyiv, alleviating concerns that Russia might unleash another barrage of missiles to pile yet more sadness on Ukraine on the anniversary.
Still, the government recommended that schools move classes online, and office employees were asked to work from home. And even as they rode Kyiv’s subway to work, bought coffee and got busy, Ukrainians were unavoidably haunted by thoughts of loss and memories of when missiles struck, troops rolled across Ukraine’s borders and a refugee exodus began a year ago.
Back then, there were fears the country might fall within weeks. Zelenskyy referred to those dark moments in a video address.
“We fiercely fought for every day. And we endured the second day. And then, the third,” he said. “And we still know: Every tomorrow is worth fighting for.”
The anniversary was also poignant for the parents of children born exactly a year ago as bombs began killing and maiming.
“It’s a tragedy for the whole country, for every Ukrainian,” said Alina Mustafaieva, who gave birth to daughter Yeva that day.
“My family was lucky. We didn’t lose anyone or anything. But many did, and we have to share this loss together,” she said.
Tributes to Ukraine’s resilience took place in other countries. The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome were among monuments illuminated in Ukraine’s colors — yellow and blue. In Berlin, a wrecked Russian tank was put on display.
Anti-war activists in Belgrade, Serbia, left a cake covered with red icing representing blood and a skull on top on a pavement near the Russian Embassy, which police stopped them from approaching.
In Russia, media and rights groups reported more police arrests of protesters who took to streets with antiwar slogans and flowers in various parts of the country.
The war’s one-year mark kept Ukraine’s president exceptionally busy. Zelenskyy kicked off the day with an early morning tweet that promised: “We know that 2023 will be the year of our victory!”
Heavy snow and rain pounded California and other parts of the West on Friday in the nation’s latest winter storm, while thousands of people in Michigan suffered in freezing temperatures through extended power outages wrought by one of the worst ice storms in decades.
The storms have blacked out nearly 1 million homes and businesses from coast to coast, closed major roads, caused pileups and snarled air travel. More than 300 flights were canceled and over 5,000 were delayed Friday across the U.S., according to Flight Aware.com.
The National Weather Service warned of a “cold and dangerous winter storm” that would last through Saturday in California. Blizzard warnings were posted in the Sierra Nevada and Southern California mountain ranges, where as much as 5 feet of snow was expected.
“Simply put, this will be a historic event for the amount of snow over the higher peaks and lower elevation snow,” according to the regional weather office.
Interstate 5, the West Coast’s major north-south highway, was closed south of the Oregon border as snow fell to the floor of the Sacramento Valley and in a high mountain pass north of Los Angeles, where blizzard warnings were in effect.
Avalanche warnings were posted in some areas, and flash flood warnings were issued for Los Angeles and nearby coastal areas until Friday night.
In Michigan, hundreds of thousands of people remained without power Friday after a storm earlier this week coated power lines, utility poles and branches with ice as thick as three-quarters of an inch.
Annemarie Rogers had been without power for a day and a half in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. She sent two kids to stay with relatives and put extra blankets on the bed to try to keep warm.
“It’s kind of miserable,” she said. “We do have a gas fireplace that’s keeping us warm in one room. There’s some heat generating from the furnace, but with no electricity to the blower it’s not circulating well.”
At one point, more than 820,000 customers in Michigan were in the dark. By Friday, that was down to under 700,000, most in the state’s populous southeastern corner around Detroit. But promises of power restoration by Sunday, when low temperatures were expected to climb back above zero, were of little consolation.
“That’s four days without power in such weather,” said Apurva Gokhale, of Walled Lake, Michigan. “It’s unthinkable.”
Tom Rankin said he and his wife were unable to reach his 100-yearold mother-in-law Friday morning by phone. The couple drove to her home in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, to find her in bed “with a whole lot of blankets,” Rankin said, adding they helped her to their car, planning to ride out the outage at another relative’s home.
“We’ve not had an ice storm in the last 50 years that has impacted our infrastructure like this,” said Trevor Lauer, president of Detroit-based DTE Electric.
At least two people have died in the storms. A Michigan firefighter died Wednesday after coming in contact with a downed power line, while in Rochester, Minnesota, a pedestrian died after being hit by a city-operated snowplow.
Much of Portland, Oregon, was shut down with icy roads not expected to thaw until Saturday after the city’s second-heaviest snowfall on record this week — nearly 11 inches.
Tim Varner sat huddled with blankets in a Portland storefront doorway that shielded him from some of the wind, ice and snow. Local officials opened six overnight shelters but the 57-year-old, who has been homeless for two decades, said it was too hard to push a shopping cart containing his belongings to get to one.
“It’s impossible,” he said. “The snow gets built up on the wheels of your cart, and then you find slippery spots and can’t get no traction. So you’re stuck.”
Not all were dismayed by the winter weather. In the San Francisco Bay Area, hundreds of people drove up to 2,500-foot Mount Tamalpais to play in the snow — a rarity in the area.
San Francisco resident Shankar Krishnan woke up at 4 a.m. and headed out hoping to see snow for the first time in a long time.
“It feels awesome. It’s like the trees are all frosty,. There’s snow on the ground. There’s snow coming down from the sky,” Krishnan said. “It’s beautiful out here.”
In Southern California, flood watches and warnings were in effect through Saturday afternoon for some coastal regions and valleys, with the potential for rainfall causing flooding and debris flow in some areas burned by wildfires in recent years. In the flash flood warning area, between three and six inches of rain had fallen by Friday afternoon with another two to four inches expected.