Two years have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine and Volodomir Zelensky is promising victory

These words were spoken by the Ukrainian President, flanked by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Ministers of Canada, Italy and Belgium, Justin Trudeau, Giorgia Meloni and Alexander de Croo, who visited Kiev to mark the anniversary.

Meloni will chair a virtual G7 meeting from Kiev focused on Ukraine that will consider a new round of sanctions against Moscow, following those recently announced by the United States, the EU and the United Kingdom.

Likewise, the Italian leader will sign a bilateral security agreement with the Ukrainian president, similar to those signed by Kiev in recent weeks with the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Denmark.

“Light always triumphs over darkness,” said the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Oleksander Sirski, shortly before.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to occupy the capital Kiev in a matter of days when he ordered the invasion on February 24, 2022. But he suffered humiliating setbacks in the face of Ukrainian resistance.

Ukraine’s plans, in turn, have been derailed by the failure of its major summer counteroffensive in 2023, and its army has complained about a lack of troops, howitzers and anti-aircraft batteries.

The presence of several Western leaders in Kiev on Saturday does not disguise this reality: US aid is being blocked by President Joe Biden’s Republican opponents and aid from the European Union is suffering delays.

Zelensky said on Friday that decisions on the delivery of military aid must be a “priority.”

“Our infantry had to fight enemy tanks, aircraft and artillery with assault rifles and grenades,” said a 39-year-old recruit from Kiev who has been fighting for two years and identifies himself by his nickname Sportsman.

Russia continues to attack Ukrainian cities with missiles and drones. According to local authorities, three people died this morning in Dnipro and Odessa.

Ukraine, in turn, claimed to have hit one of Russia’s largest steel mills in a drone strike in the western Lipetsk region.

Britain announced on Saturday a 245 million pound ($311 million) package to Kiev to boost its arms production, as well as another 8.5 million pounds in humanitarian aid.

For his part, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on Kiev and its allies “not to lose hope” because “President Putin’s goal of dominating Ukraine has not changed.”

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Arriving in Kiev, von der Leyen, the president of the European executive branch, highlighted the “extraordinary resistance of the Ukrainian people” and reiterated that the bloc would support them “until the country is finally free.”

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Russia has prided itself on increasing its operations on the front lines, winning victories such as the capture of Avdiivka in the east of the country on February 17 after months of bitter fighting.

Russian troops also went on the offensive in another eastern sector, around Mariinka.

“Today the advantage in terms of troop distribution is on our side,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Saturday during a visit to his troops.

However, Ukrainians interviewed by AFP in Kiev are convinced that they will eventually defeat the invaders. “We learned to resist, to strengthen ourselves and to believe. Here we say: those who believe will be rewarded,” says Nina, a pensioner.

Putin on Friday congratulated his army’s “heroes” who fought in Ukraine. About 500,000 people were drafted into the armed forces in 2023, with another 50,000 in January, while the economy was geared toward supporting the war machine.

The Russian opposition, for its part, is being decimated by repression and by the death of its main leader, Alexei Navalny, in an Arctic prison on February 16.

There appear to be no obstacles to Putin’s plan to secure victory in the presidential election in mid-March.

But critics who face long prison sentences remain cautious. “We are so far from the truth that it is difficult to make decisions,” said Konstantin, a theater professor.

Regarding the sanctions that isolated Russia from the Western world, former Russian President and current number two in the Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, assured that his country would take revenge for them.

“We must remember this and take revenge on them wherever we can. They are our enemies,” he wrote on Telegram following new restrictions announced in recent days by the US, EU and UK.

SPRING: AFP

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