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Dhaka Tribune

Western leaders in Kyiv pledge support for Ukraine on war anniversary

  • Four Western leaders in Kyiv to show solidarity
  • Italy, Canada sign security pacts with Zelenskiy
  • Russian drones hit Odesa, Ukraine attacks Russian steel plant

 

Update : 24 Feb 2024, 10:41 PM

The prime ministers of Italy and Canada signed security deals with Ukraine on Saturday as Western leaders rallied round a war-weary Kyiv on the second anniversary of Russia's military invasion, with no end in the sight to the fighting.

After initial successes in pushing back the Russian army, Ukraine has suffered recent setbacks on the eastern battlefields, with its generals complaining of growing shortages of both arms and soldiers.

Looking to dispel concerns the West is losing interest in the conflict, Italy's Giorgia Meloni and Canada's Justin Trudeau came to Kyiv early on Saturday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

"The message I want to send today to ... all the Ukrainian people is that they are not alone. I want you to know that we are deeply grateful," Meloni said as she signed a 10-year defence pact with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Trudeau signed a similar accord and pledged some $2.25 billion in financial and military support this year.

"We will stand with Ukraine with whatever it takes, for as long as it takes," Trudeau said.

Ordinary Ukrainians held services to commemorate the anniversary, laying flowers to honour their many dead, amid fears that the war would continue for years, with Russian President Vladimir Putin showing no sign of backing down.

"I'm a realist and understand that most likely the war will drag on for the next three or four years. I hope society will mobilize, I hope we'll be able to somehow defeat Russia," said Denys Symonovskiy, a Kyiv resident.

Zelenskiy took the foreign leaders to see Hostomel airport - the site of a ferocious battle at the start of the invasion as Russia tried to fly in paratroopers to seize the capital Kyiv a few kilometres away.

"Two years ago we met enemy troopers here with fire, and two years later, we are meeting our friends, our partners, here," Zelenskiy said in a televised speech delivered against a backdrop of wrecked aircraft.

"Any normal person wants the war to end. But none of us will allow our Ukraine to end," he added. "The word 'independent' will always stand next to the word 'Ukraine' in future history."

Outside Kyiv, the war continued unabated.

Russian drones attacked the port of Odesa for a second night running, hitting a residential building, killing one person, the regional governor said. In Dnipro, a Russian drone hit an apartment building and a rescue operation uncovered two dead.

Meanwhile, a source in Kyiv said Ukrainian drones had caused a blaze at a Russian steel plant, which a Russian official identified as one in Lipetsk, some 400km from Ukraine, that is responsible for about 18% of Russian output.

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