Ukraine’s pro-democracy, pro-Europe demonstrations in Maidan square a decade ago marked the “first victory” in its war with Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared on the anniversary of the popular protest movement.
Nearly 100 civilians were killed in violent clashes with security forces when Ukrainians took to the streets of the capital in 2013, demanding Ukraine’s transfer from the orbit of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and “being -join” the family of European democracies to which it “historically belongs” .
The “Revolution of Dignity” protests eventually led to the ouster of Kremlin-backed President Victor Yanukovych and gave way to the rise of a new generation of anti-corruption, pro-democracy movement leaders.
“The first victory in the war has now taken place. A victory over indifference. A triumph of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Tuesday.
He praised his country’s progress towards European Union membership since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February last year.
“Every year, little by little, we will do our best to ensure that our star shines in the circle of stars of the EU flag, which symbolizes the unity of the people of Europe. The star of Ukraine, ” he said.
His comments come as Russian forces undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and continue their all-out invasion of their tiny neighbor.
Many foreign leaders traveled to 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 promise more support, but also to express our solidarity and deep bond and also our admiration for the brave, brave and expensive fight that is being done here,” he said laying flowers on Maidan square in the center of Kyiv.
Also in Kyiv on Tuesday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, shared a post on the social media platform X, saying that 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 on Tuesday to join Zelenskyy in honoring the memory of those who died during the Revolution of Dignity, her office told X.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday “to meet with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the United States’ strong support for Ukraine’s fight for independence “, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, visited Ukraine last week to underline Britain’s support for Kyiv amid its ongoing war with Russia. He told Zelenskyy that the UK would support Ukraine for “no matter how long.”
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on the anniversary of the Maidan protests by blaming Ukraine and the West for the current war in which nearly 10,000 people have lost their lives.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked what the European dream brought to Ukraine.
“From a prosperous, industrially developed, densely populated ex-Soviet republic, Ukraine has turned into a poor, dying territory,” he said, according to comments published on the website of the Foreign Ministry.
Ukraine lost its freedom because of the Maidan events, he said. “The colonizers of the West determine its domestic and foreign policy.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry also made statements saying that Russia cannot coexist with the “regime” in Ukraine.
“The current regime is completely toxic, we don’t see any options for going with it at the moment,” said Russia’s ambassador-at-large Rodion Miroshnik on Tuesday.
He further stated that in order to end the war, Ukraine must be “de-militarized and de-nazified” in order not to be considered a threat to Russia.