LONDON (Reuters) – European leaders pledged unwavering support for Ukraine as the war-torn country marked its Independence Day on Wednesday, coinciding with the six-month milestone of the Russian invasion.
The leaders paid tribute to the sacrifices and courage of the Ukrainian people, expressed their determination to continue supplying arms to Ukraine and vilified Moscow for its attack on the neighboring Eastern European nation.
In Britain, floral and musical tributes punctuated a show of solidarity as Ukraine commemorated its 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. The UK Ministry of Defense tweeted a video of the Scots Guards Band performing the Eurovision Song Contest winning Ukrainian song, “Stefania”.
An arch of sunflowers – the national flower of Ukraine – has decorated the Downing Street office of the British Prime Minister. Prime Minister Boris Johnsonwho will soon leave office, urged the allies to continue to provide Ukraine with all the military, humanitarian, economic and diplomatic support it needs.
“We will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea or any other Ukrainian territory,” Johnson said in a video address Tuesday at an international summit on Russia’s takeover of the Crimean peninsula from Israel. Ukraine in 2014.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a video posted on Twitter that “our hearts go out to those who pay with their lives the Russian terror of war day after day, who are maimed and injured.”
“We mourn with those who have lost friends or family members, who have had to flee, who have been abducted from their beloved homeland or by Russian occupiers, who have lost their property to bombs, rockets and Russian artillery shells,” said the Chancellor.
Scholz had harsh words for Russia, chastising the Kremlin for its “backward imperialism” and stressed that Ukraine “will drive out the dark shadow of war because it is strong and courageous, because it has friends in Europe and all over the world”.
Pope Francis marked the half-anniversary of the invasion by decrying the ‘madness’ of war, warning of the risk of nuclear ‘disaster’ from the fighting and lamenting that innocent people on both sides are paying the price price.
The pontiff warned of the risk of nuclear disaster in Ukraine, a reference to the bombing of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhhia nuclear power plant. He also castigated those who profited from the war, especially arms manufacturers.
Francis has intensified his denunciations of the war although he rarely blames Russia or President Vladimir Putin by name, proof that the Vatican is trying to keep an open dialogue with Moscow.

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