Vigils held as Ukraine allies across the world mark first anniversary of war

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5

Hundreds of people gathered in London to hold a vigil on behalf of Ukraine as allies around the world prepared to mark the first anniversary of the war.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was lit up in the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine’s flag.

The messages come as Friday marks a full year since the war broke out between Russia and Ukraine.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was met with cheers as he addressed the crowd in central London.

Earlier today he said Putin is ‘not going to stop’ and the war could last another year.

Among the other speakers was Dame Helen Mirren, 77, who read an English translation of a poem by Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan.

The anniversary is just a few weeks after President Zelensky visited the UK, and met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

He also met with the King for the first time and gave a rousing speech in front of MPs in Westminster.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5

Speaking tonight Mr Wallace said: ‘This time last year we weren’t supposed to be here.

‘President Putin had a plan that in three weeks he would have dominated Ukraine, sent people to filtration camps and eventually have turned that country, your wonderful country, into merely a pawn for his ambitions.

‘All of you here from Ukraine, the bravery of your country’s men and women who have stood against this aggression, this illegal war, this challenge to freedom, democracy and human rights should be incredibly proud of what you are standing for.’

He added that all political parties in the UK ‘fully support’ efforts to ‘make sure Putin is defeated in Ukraine and his army is sent home’.

Mr Wallace told the crowd that Britain trained 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers last year and said it will train another 20,000.

He went on: ‘Like Ukraine, Britain remembers what it was like to stand alone against overwhelming odds when many people thought we didn’t have a chance in 1939.’

Calling Ukrainian soldiers the ‘bravest of the brave’, he said: ‘You not only showed Russia, you showed us all when you stand up for human rights and your country anything is possible.’

Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko also told the crowd his country’s people have not lost their optimism after a year of war.

Speaking at the vigil in London Mr Prystaiko called the conflict an ‘unjustified and unprovoked war’ which has ‘brought so much tragedy and suffering to our nation’.

He continued: ‘Dear American friends, with you by our side, with our British friends and colleagues and the rest of the world, we are growing stronger each and every day, driving Putin’s killers out of our lands, restoring peace and stability and respect of human rights.’

He said Ukrainian people are ‘not losing our optimism’ and are ‘confidently looking at our future’.

‘Ukraine is a strong, young nation with great courageous people, happy to share with the rest of the world their unique culture,’ the ambassador added.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Get your need-to-know
latest news, feel-good stories, analysis and more