AP

Live updates | Russia Ukraine War Anniversary

Feb 23, 2023, 11:01 AM | Updated: Feb 24, 2023, 12:39 pm

A little girl holds a heart shaped cutout in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, during a protest ag...

A little girl holds a heart shaped cutout in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, during a protest against Russia's war on Ukraine, marking the first anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

(AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the phone, the Kremlin reported.

A terse readout published Friday on the Kremlin’s website said the two discussed “the situation around Ukraine,” including a deal mediated by Turkey and the U.N. to facilitate Ukrainian grain shipments and Russian exports of fertilizers and agricultural products.

“The need for the conscientious fulfillment of the second part of the ‘package’ regarding the elimination of obstacles to the relevant shipments from Russia to the most needing countries was emphasized,” the readout said.

French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke with Erdogan on Friday, telling him that pressure on Russia needs to be increased as well as its isolation “so that it renounces its enterprise of aggression” in Ukraine.

Turkish-Russian trade levels have risen over the past year, which is a concern for France and other Western nations that have imposed sanctions on Russia.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— Ukraine’s Zelenskyy defiant and busy on war anniversary

— Russia, Ukraine face off at UN with rival tributes to dead

— US commits $2 billion in drones, ammunition, aid to Ukraine

— ‘People’s court’ endorses Putin indictment for aggression

— China issues peace plan; Zelenskyy says he’ll await details

— Joy amid sorrow: 1st birthdays muted for Ukrainian parents

— Tallying Ukraine toll an elusive task

— Follow AP’s coverage of the war anniversary in Ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

NAIROBI, Kenya — U.S. first lady Jill Biden has recalled her trip to Ukraine last year as “such an emotional moment.”

Biden and the besieged country’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, visited a school that was being used to help migrants who fled the fighting. Some of the families, she said, had hid underground for weeks before making their escape.

“You could see the children, how shy they were, and how downcast. You could see the effect of war on the children,” Biden said, speaking to the Associated Press on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

The interview took place on Friday in Nairobi, Kenya, the second and final stop on the first lady’s five-day trip to Africa.

“We thought then, how long can this go on? And here we are, a year later,” she said.

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WARSAW, Poland — The leaders of Germany, France and Poland have pledged their countries’ support for Ukraine and its people will continue “as long as it takes,” and have called on Russia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s territory.

The declaration by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish President Andrzej Duda — the three leaders of the so-called Weimar Triange, was issued Friday on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

After a Group of Seven meeting on Friday, Macron said the G-7 allies were “united and determined until victory” for Ukraine and the “return of peace.” Macron posted the comments on Twitter on Friday after the G-7 leaders spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a video conference.

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WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States has called the U.S. her country’s “Strategic Friend No. 1.”

In Washington, a stiff wind whipped blue and yellow flags set in the ground to mark the days of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, used the event to say the U.S. had begun distributing $9.9 billion allocated by Congress to help pay salaries and otherwise support Ukraine’s government through the end of the fiscal year.

Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova said the second year of the war would be “the year of winning.”

Power acknowledged Markarova’s thanks and added, “We are grateful to you” for the persistence of democratic Ukraine in fighting the Russian invasion. “We are awed by your commitment to the values that we cherish here in the United States.”

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TBILISI, Georgia — Thousands of Georgians took to the streets of the country’s capital on Friday to express solidarity with Ukraine, while the ex-Soviet nation’s president blasted her government’s “neutral position” on the Russian aggression.

Georgia, which in 2008 survived a war with Russia over a breakaway region controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, has provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid, taken in thousands of war refugees and joined all international resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But its authorities stopped short of supplying Kyiv with military assistance, citing the need to maintain neutrality and not get dragged into the conflict.

President Salome Zourabichvili said in a statement Friday that the government’s “neutral and balanced” position was “incomprehensible to a country that has gone through the same test many times, which knows very well what it means when its sovereignty is violated by the enemy and the sword raised against independence, which best understands the bitterness of occupation.”

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PARIS — French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said France will create a 1 million-euro fund to support Ukrainian athletes and delegates participating in next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

Oudéa-Castéra made the announcement on Friday, the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She told a group of Ukrainian athletes in northern France that the French government will do everything to help Ukraine be “as well prepared as possible” for the Summer Games.

The Paris 2024 organizers have come under pressure from Ukrainian officials who have threatened to boycott next year’s Olympics and Paralympics if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to compete.

An International Olympic Committee plan to allow delegations from Russia and its ally Belarus to compete in Paris as “neutral athletes,” without flags and anthems.

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PRAGUE — At least 1,000 people have rallied in the Czech capital to condemn Russia for its war against Ukraine.

The Ukrainian organizers of the rally in Prague also protested against some companies and clothing retailers that they say are still doing business in Russia.

The protesters marched through the city’s major shopping streets from the picturesque Old Town Square to central Wenceslas Square on Friday, for the one-year mark after Russia’s invasion.

The demonstrators were carrying banners with the names of the businesses and showed red marks — symbolizing blood — and waved Ukrainian flags.

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BERLIN — Germany is pledging to send another four Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, a decision that it says enables it to put together a full battalion for Kyiv along with Sweden and Portugal.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius decided Friday to increase the number of tanks Germany will send from 14 to 18, his ministry said.

Germany is coordinating deliveries of Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine, while Poland is coordinating deliveries of a battalion of Leopard 2A4 tanks.

The ministry said Sweden’s announcement earlier Friday that it will send Ukraine 10 Leopard 2A5 tanks, in addition to three tanks pledged by Portugal, means that the three countries can provide 31 tanks for a “mixed Ukrainian battalion.”

The Leopard 2A5s that Sweden is offering are technically similar to the tanks Germany is sending.

Germany is currently training Ukrainian soldiers on the German-made Leopards, which are set to be delivered next month.

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BELGRADE, Serbia – Waving Ukrainian flags, more than 1,000 people marched in Serbia’s capital on Friday in support of Ukraine on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

The gathering in Belgrade was organized by a Ukrainian group in Serbia, and the Ukrainian embassy. Participants held banners reading ‘Peace for Ukraine’ and ‘Stop the war in Ukraine.’

The rally was attended by Western diplomats, but not Serbian government officials. The Balkan country is a traditional ally of Russia, and it remains the only country in Europe that has not joined Western sanctions against Russia.

Earlier on Friday, police prevented a group of anti-war activists from reaching the Russian embassy in Belgrade. They had sought to deliver a red cake with a skull on top, to symbolize Russia’s aggression of Ukraine.

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BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is urging countries that aren’t involved in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to take up the job of leading talks to restore peace between them.

On the anniversary of Russia’s invasion, the Brazilian leader wrote Friday on social media that “it is urgent that a group of countries, which are not involved in the conflict, take on responsibility for heading negotiations to reestablish peace.”

Lula has floated the proposal since taking office Jan. 1, and has brought it up with Presidents Joe Biden of the United States and France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Lula has received criticism from some analysts and members of the international community for not taking a stronger stance against Russia.

He told reporters that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz requested Brazil send munitions to Ukrainian forces, which he declined to do. Lula has said he favors peace, and doesn’t want to get pulled into the war.

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Russian media and rights groups say police in various parts of Russia have detained protesters who took to the streets with antiwar slogans or flowers to mark the first anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

At least eight people were detained Friday after taking flowers to a monument to victims of political repression in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, according to the OVD-Info legal aid group, which tracks political arrests.

It said two people were detained in St. Petersburg after bringing flowers to a monument honoring Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko.

In Siberia, five people were detained in the city of Barnaul, including a man who picketed on a central square with a placard reading “Stop being silent,” the Sibir.Realii news outlet said. It said a woman in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur was detained for protesting with a banner saying: “We’re mourning. Forgive us, we screwed up our country.”

Russians all across the country actively protested against the war in Ukraine during the first week of the invasion. Large rallies quickly fizzled after thousands were detained, but single-person protests — and detentions — persisted throughout the year.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for Ukraine’s help in responding to the devastating earthquake that hit parts of Turkey and Syria.

The Turkish leader, in a call Friday with Zelenskyy to discuss the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, also reiterated his willingness to help contribute to a possible cease-fire or foster negotiations to end the conflict, Ergodan’s office said.

Erdogan also hailed Ukraine’s “solidarity” with Turkey in the aftermath of the earthquake. Ukraine sent a search team to Turkey that assisted efforts to rescue quake survivors.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says his country has delivered four advanced Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Morawiecki told a news conference in Kyiv on Friday that the tanks had arrived and aren’t just pledges on paper.

The prime minister said Poland will provide more Leopards tanks soon, as well as a number of upgraded, Soviet-era T-72 tanks.

Poland has pledged 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and Germany has promised an equal number. Sweden’s government said Friday that it would send up to 10 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

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MOSCOW – The Russian Foreign Ministry is warning Ukraine and its Western allies that an attack on Russian troops in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria would be construed as an attack on Russia itself and trigger an “adequate response.”

The ministry said in a statement “We are warning the U.S., NATO countries and their Ukrainian proxies from any further adventurous steps.”

Friday’s warning came a day after the Russian Defense Ministry alleged that Ukraine was planning a “provocation” in Transnistria, where Russia has maintained about 1,500 “peacekeeping” troops since the Moscow-backed region broke away in a 1992 civil war.

Citing intelligence data without presenting any evidence, the Russian military alleged that Ukrainian soldiers disguised as Russian troops planned to launch a false flag operation designed to apportion blame Russia for invading Ukraine from Transnistria. Kyiv would the then use that as a pretext to invade the territory.

Moldova’s Defense Ministry said there are “no direct threats” to the country’s security. It urged citizens to remain calm, adding that it’s working with other authorities to “prevent any attempt at destabilization.”

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SOFIA, Bulgaria – A senior European Union official says the entire democratic world will win the war in Ukraine and that Russia must be stopped now because it “will go as far as it can” if left unopposed.

European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said Friday it’s the first time in EU history that the bloc is providing military assistance to a country in time of war.

Dombrovskis said Brussels is committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes, adding that the bloc is coming out with a new package of sanctions against Moscow “that are biting hard and contributing to sustained economic recession in Russia.”

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LONDON – Britain’s King Charles III has praised the “remarkable courage and resilience” of Ukrainians during a year of war.

In a message to mark Friday’s first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, the king said “the people of Ukraine have suffered unimaginably from an unprovoked full-scale attack on their nation.”

Charles said he had met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Buckingham Palace earlier this month to express his “personal support” for Ukraine’s people.

The king, who took the throne in September after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II, said it was “heartening that the United Kingdom, along with its allies, is doing everything possible to help at this most difficult time.”

He added that he’s hopeful the outpouring of solidarity from across the globe “may bring not only practical aid, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united.”

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BERLIN – A wrecked Russian tank brought from Ukraine has been put on display outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin to mark the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion.

The T-72 tank was put on display in Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard, in front of the embassy.

The tank was brought to Berlin by a private group, which said that the Ukrainian defense ministry’s military history museum loaned the vehicle and helped it with logistics. It says the vehicle was hit in the Kyiv region in the early stages of the war.

One of the organizers, Wieland Giebel of the Berlin Story group, said that the whole world recognize that many Germans stand behind Ukraine.

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BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbian police have prevented a group of antiwar activists from reaching the Russian Embassy to present a skull-adorned cake in commemoration of the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

Activists left the cake soaked in red dye on the pavement near the embassy in central Belgrade. Activists also wanted to hand embassy staff a demand for Russian President Vladimir Putin to stand trial for genocide.

A traditional Slavic ally, Serbia has maintained friendly relations with Russia despite the invasion. While formally seeking European Union entry, Belgrade has refused to join Western sanctions designed to punish Moscow for the aggression.

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TALLINN, Estonia — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russian President Vladimir Putin is “preparing for more war” and that he wants a Europe in which Russia “can dictate what neighbors do.”

Stoltenberg made the remarks Friday in the Estonian capital, where he was joined by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to commemorate the Baltic country’s independence day.

Von der Leyen said Putin has failed to achieve any of his strategic goals and that Russia is becoming increasingly isolated. .

Stoltenberg also said that he has invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to attend a NATO summit in Lithuania in July, expressing hope that the Ukrainian leader can attend in person.

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BERLIN – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked Germany for its support in the first year of Russia’s invasion and said his country can “end Russian aggression this year.”

Zelenskyy spoke in a video message to a memorial event in Berlin Friday led by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attended by Germany’s top politicians and the Ukrainian ambassador.

Zelenskyy, who spoke through an interpreter, said that “now is the time when, with our courage and our weapons, we can restore peace and create a historically important safeguard against every aggression.”

Steinmeier led a minute of silence for the victims of the war. He said that “Germany is not at war, but this war concerns us … Russia’s war of aggression has wrecked the European security order.”

The German parliament on Friday replaced one of the German flags atop its Reichstag building – which usually has three German flags and one European Union flag – with a Ukrainian flag. A Ukrainian flag also was raised outside the chancellery.

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WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak says that “preventive barriers” are being put up along the country’s borders with Russia and Belarus.

Blaszczak posted on Twitter Friday that the barriers were elements of a “strategy of defense and deterrence.”

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s presidential office says that Russian strikes in the last day killed at least three civilians and wounded 19 others.

The office said Friday that intense fighting continued to rage around Bakhmut, Vuhledar and Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, where two civilians were killed and seven others wounded..

Russian forces targeted 18 towns and villages in the Donetsk region with air and artillery strikes over the last 24 hours, including the city of Kramatorsk that hosts Ukrainian military headquarters for the region.

The governor of the neighboring Luhansk region, Serhii Haidai, said that heavy fighting continued to rage around Kreminna, where the Russians briefly broke through Ukrainian defenses before being pushed back by the Ukrainian forces.

Russian attacks also targeted the town of Kupiansk and nearby villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where seven people were wounded At least one civilian was killed and three others wounded by the Russian attacks in the southern Kherson region.

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MOSCOW – A senior Russian official says Moscow should capture as much Ukrainian territory as possible to secure a stable peace.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said Friday that if Russia fails to fully defeat Ukraine, an eventual peace agreement will be unstable and set the stage for hostilities to erupt again in the future.

Medvedev charged that the U.S. would call the shots in future peace talks, aiming to “weaken Russia as much as possible.”

He argued on his messaging app channel that Russia should “push threats … as far away as possible, even if it were the border of Poland.”

Medvedev, who served as Russian president in 2008-2012 when Putin needed to shift into the prime minister’s job because of term limits, has become one of the most hawkish members of Putin’s entourage.

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LONDON – Britain has slapped more sanctions on firms that supply Russia’s battlefield equipment on the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

The U.K. said Friday it will bar export to Russia of all items it has used in the war, including aircraft parts, radio equipment, and electronic components of weapons.

The list includes executives of several Russian banks and defense companies, as well as Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company, Rosatom.

Also sanctioned are five executives from Iran’s Qods Aviation Industry, which makes armed drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukraine’s infrastructure.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will lead a nationwide minute of silence for Ukraine Friday morning, gathering outside 10 Downing St. with Ukraine’s ambassador and a contingent of Ukrainian troops.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has awarded top state honors to soldiers and other Ukrainians who helped save lives, including health and energy workers.

In Friday’s ceremony outside Kyiv’s St Sophia Cathedral marking the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Zelenskyy offered praise to soldiers and ordinary Ukrainians fighting back against Russian troops saying, “we are proud of you … let this pride course through trenches and squares.”

Some soldiers posthumously were awarded Ukraine’s highest honor, Hero of Ukraine, for “personal heroism and great labor achievements.” Family members of the fallen soldiers were on hand to accept the honor.

Also recognized were men and women running regional energy enterprises and health centers, including in Ukraine’s embattled east and south.

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BRUSSELS — The NATO military alliance is affirming its commitment to stand by Ukraine and help it defeat Russia on the first anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion.

“We remain determined to maintain coordinated international pressure on Russia,” ambassadors from the 30 alliance countries said in a statement Friday.

“Russia’s efforts to break the resolve of the brave people of Ukraine are failing. One year on, Ukrainians are fighting valiantly for freedom and independence. We stand with them.”

The envoys also reaffirmed their “iron-clad” intent to come to the defense of any member country should Russia consider broadening the war.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s defense chief has congratulated the country’s armed forces for rebuffing an enemy “that terrified the whole world,” referring to Russia’s failed attempt to launch a full-scale invasion that would take control of Ukraine.

“Our soldiers and the entire Ukrainian people took up a fight many in the world considered hopeless,” Oleksiy Reznikov said in an address posted on Facebook on Friday.

“You rebuffed the enemy’s army, which terrified the whole world. But it turned out to be powerless against Ukrainians, who are defending their home and their loved ones, fighting for their land,” he added.

Reznikov said Kyiv will fight until it takes back all territory captured or annexed by Russia, and until the danger from Moscow is “eliminated.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s army chief, Valery Zaluzhny, says his country’s resilience against Russia’s invasion “rests on our people,”

“Ordinary heroes among us. They are people who took up arms to protect their families, their homes and their state from the enemy’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression,” he wrote on Facebook Friday.

“They are people who are now, at this moment, beating back the occupier, holding the line, freezing in our cold but dear, native land, saving the lives of their compatriots, helping the army however they can,” he wrote.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Live updates | Russia Ukraine War Anniversary