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‘Putin must lose everything’: defiant Zelenskiy hosts western leaders in Kyiv to mark two years of war

Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed western leaders to Kyiv on Saturday on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, declaring that Vladimir Putin “must lose absolutely everything”.

Ukraine’s president met the prime ministers of Italy, Canada and Belgium – Giorgia Meloni, Justin Trudeau and Alexander De Croo – as well as the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The leaders visited Hostomel airport, near Kyiv, which Russian paratroopers seized at the start of Moscow’s all-out attack. Ukrainian troops regained control of the airfield and thwarted Russian plans to capture the capital.

“Two years ago we met enemy troopers here with fire, and two years later, we are meeting our friends, our partners, here,” Zelenskiy said. He added: “Any normal person wants the war to end. But none of us will allow our Ukraine to end”.

Dear great people of a great country, I am immensely proud of each of you. I admire each one of you. I believe in each one of you. Any normal person wants the war to end. But none of us will allow Ukraine to end.

That is why when it comes to ending the war, we always add: on our…

— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2024

Zelenskiy later spoke with Joe Biden on a video call. The show of solidarity came at a time when Ukrainian troops have suffered defeats on the battlefield, including the recent loss of the eastern city of Avdiivka.

The international picture is also bleak. With House Republicans in Washington blocking a US military aid package, Ukraine is running out of artillery shells and air defence missiles.

Others visitors to Kyiv included Boris Johnson and a cross-party delegation of British MPs. Speaking at a conference organised by the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, the former prime minister said he was more convinced than ever that Ukraine could defeat Russia.

It had already destroyed a huge number of Russian tanks and soldiers, he said. He called on Kyiv to eliminate the Kerch Bridge connecting Russia with occupied Crimea. “I want to blow this one up,” he said, urging democratic countries “to do more” and to boost defence production.

On this grim second anniversary of Putin’s invasion I am honoured to be here in Ukraine. With their indomitable courage I have no doubt that the Ukrainians will win and expel Putin’s forces – provided we give them the military, political and economic help that they need.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 24, 2024

Johnson said he was convinced Republicans would approve the White House’s stalled $61bn package for Ukraine. “I think in the end the US, having exhausted all the available alternatives, will do the right thing,” he predicted. “It’s not in the interests of US presidents to allow Putin to win.”

Outside Kyiv, the war continued unabated. Russian drones attacked the port of Odesa for a second night running, hitting a residential building and killing one person. In Dnipro, a Russian drone killed two people.

Ukraine’s national security adviser, Oleksiy Danilov, claimed that his forces on Friday shot down a Russian A-50 military spy plane. It was the second time an A-50 had been destroyed in a month, he said. “They had six of them. Now they have four,” he said.

Danilov complained that the west had not supplied Kyiv with long-range systems, such as the German Taurus missile, which would enable it to hit Russian targets deep in the rear.

“We had to shoot down the spy plane with a Soviet rocket. It was older than me,” Danilov said.


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