The US committed more arms for Ukraine and deployed fresh sanctions against Russia on Friday, as mourners in New York and around the globe marked the one-year anniversary of President Vladimir Putin’s painful war on his previously peaceful neighbor.
The White House said its sanctions package, planned in coordination with America’s G7 allies, targets more than 200 people and entities in Russia and in third-party states that are propping up Moscow’s bloody war. The Biden administration also said it was broadening its sanctions approach to inflict pain on Russia’s mining industry.
“A dictator bent on rebuilding an empire will never erase the people’s love of liberty,” President Biden, who met virtually on Friday with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine and G7 leaders, said on Twitter. “Brutality will never grind down the will of the free. And Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never.”
As the war has grinded on, America and other Western powers have widened the scope of military support they are willing to provide to Ukraine. This winter, the US, Britain and Germany all agreed to send battle tanks, after long resisting such a move.
By the fall, Ukraine recovered half the territory that the Russian Army seized at the start of the war, but Putin has cast a cold winter of misery on Ukrainian cities through air attacks on the invaded nation’s power grid.
Putin’s army has been humbled during 12 months of war, driven back in its effort to take Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and outmaneuvered across the north.
But fierce warfare has been a near constant in Ukraine’s east. And Russia now appears to have launched a long-awaited later-winter offensive.
Zelenskyy spent recent weeks pushing his allies for military aid, making trips to Washington, London and Brussels to directly deliver his appeals.
The Pentagon outlined a $2 billion military assistance package for Ukraine on Friday that included mobile rocket launchers, battle drones and ammunition for laser-guided rocket systems. Over the last year, the US has committed more than $32 billion to Ukraine’s war effort, according to the Pentagon.
“Putin thought that Ukraine’s defenses would collapse, that America’s resolve would falter, and that the world would look the other way,” Lloyd Austin, the American secretary of defense, said in a Friday statement. “He was wrong. One year later, Ukraine’s brave defenders have not wavered, and neither has our commitment to support them for as long as it takes.”
The US also said it started this week to disburse nearly $10 billion in financial aid for Ukraine. Zelenskyy described the twin investments as a potent signal to the Kremlin that Washington stands behind Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader conducted a lengthy news conference in Kyiv with a crowded room of journalists from around the world on Friday. He repeatedly promised his country would win its war against the mighty Russian Army.
In a speech to his nation marking the anniversary, Zelenskyy described Feb. 24, 2022 as the “longest day of our lives,” adding, “We woke up early and haven’t fallen asleep since.”
“It was a year of resilience. A year of care. A year of bravery. A year of pain,” Zelenskyy said. “The year of invincibility. The furious year of invincibility.”
The invasion, waged by a Russian president who has insisted that Ukraine lacks the “traditions” of statehood, has come at enormous costs in life for both sides.
In Ukraine, a three-decade-old sovereign nation located in the former Soviet Union, at least 8,000 civilians have been killed, according to the UN, although it estimated the real figure is far higher. In the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been reduced to ruins, more than 20,000 have died, according to local estimates.
The war has left 40,000 to 60,000 Russian soldiers dead, according to Britain’s government. And Putin’s invasion has sent more than 8 million Ukrainian refugees spilling out into Europe, according to the UN.
In New York, home to a vibrant Ukrainian community, the Ukrainian flag was raised at Bowling Green Park in the Financial District on Friday. State landmarks and City Hall were to be lit in the flag’s blue and yellow at night.
Mayor Adams said in a statement that “New Yorkers will not stand idly by while our brothers and sisters in Ukraine continue to suffer.” He was expected to attend an anniversary benefit concert in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach on Friday night.
In the afternoon, Gov. Hochul made a trip to St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church in the East Village.
“New York City is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the United States; this is personal to us,” the governor told a news conference in Midtown Manhattan before his visit to the church. “We will always stand against tyranny.”