Ukraine’s pro-democracy, pro-European protests on Maidan Square a decade ago marked the “first victory” in the war against Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on the anniversary of the popular protest movement.
Nearly 100 civilians died in violent clashes with security forces when Ukrainians took to the streets of the capital in 2013, demanding that Ukraine be taken out of the orbit of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and “joined” the family of European democracies to which it “historically belongs”. .
The “Revolution of Dignity” protests ultimately led to the ouster of Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych and gave rise to the emergence of a new generation of anti-corruption and pro-democracy movement leaders.
“The first victory of today’s war has taken place. A victory against indifference. A victory of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Tuesday.
He praised his country’s progress towards joining the European Union since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February last year.
“Year by year, step by step, we do our best to make our star shine in the circle of stars of the EU flag, which symbolizes the unity of the peoples of Europe. The star of Ukraine,” he said.
His comments come as Russian forces erode Ukraine’s sovereignty and continue their all-out invasion of their smaller neighbor.
Show of support
A number of foreign leaders visited kyiv in a show of solidarity. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius arrived by train for an unannounced visit to reaffirm Berlin’s support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian troops.
“I am here again, first to pledge more support, but also to express our solidarity and deep connections and admiration for the courageous, courageous and costly fight being waged here,” he said by laying flowers on Maidan Square in central Kiev. .
Also in Kyiv on Tuesday, European Council President Charles Michel shared a message on social media platform X, saying it was “good to be back in Kyiv – among friends.” He posted a photo of himself shaking hands with the EU ambassador to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu arrived in kyiv early Tuesday to join Zelensky in honoring the memory of those who died during the Revolution of Dignity, her office said on X.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Kiev on Monday “to meet with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” the Pentagon said in a statement. a statement.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron visited Ukraine last week to highlight British support for kyiv amid the ongoing war with Russia. He told Zelensky that the UK would support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry commented on the anniversary of the Maidan protests by accusing Ukraine and the West of being responsible for the current war in which almost 10,000 people have lost their lives.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova wondered what the European dream had brought to Ukraine.
“From a prosperous, industrially developed and densely populated former Soviet republic, Ukraine has become an impoverished and disappearing territory,” she said, according to comments posted on the Ministry of Affairs website. foreign.
Ukraine lost its independence following the Maidan events, she said. “Western colonizers determine its domestic and foreign policy. »
The Russian Foreign Ministry has also made statements asserting that Russia cannot coexist with the Ukrainian “regime”.
“The current regime is absolutely toxic, we see no option for coexistence with it at the moment,” Russian Ambassador-at-Large Rodion Miroshnik said on Tuesday.
He further stated that to end the war, Ukraine must be “demilitarized and denazified” so as not to be seen as a threat to Russia.