Western leaders in Kyiv, G7 pledge support for Ukraine on war anniversary


Heads of the Group of Seven major democracies on Saturday pledged to stand by war-weary Ukraine, and Western leaders traveled to Kyiv to show solidarity on the second anniversary of Russia's invasion, with no end in the sight to the fighting, Paralel.Az reports citing Reuters.

After initial successes in pushing back the Russian army, Ukraine has suffered recent setbacks on eastern battlefields, with its generals complaining of growing shortages of both arms and soldiers.

The G7 leaders on Saturday held a video conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the anniversary of Russia's "special military operation," which ranks as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two.

"As Ukraine enters the third year of this relentless war, its government and its people can count on the G7’s support for as long as it takes," the G7 leaders said in a statement.

The officials, who have been critical sources of military and financial aid to Kyiv, also vowed to continue targeting Russia's sources of revenue with sanctions.

Zelenskiy stressed the need to protect Ukrainian skies and strengthen its army. "We are counting on you," he said on the call, according to remarks published on his website.

Looking to dispel concerns the West is losing interest in the conflict, Italy's Giorgia Meloni and Canada's Justin Trudeau came to Kyiv early on Saturday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

"The message I want to send today to ... all the Ukrainian people is that they are not alone," Meloni said as she signed a 10-year defence pact with Zelenskiy.

Trudeau signed a similar accord and pledged some $2.25 billion in financial and military support this year.

"We will stand with Ukraine with whatever it takes, for as long as it takes," Trudeau said.

Ordinary Ukrainians held services to commemorate the anniversary, laying flowers to honour their many dead, amid fears the war will last years longer as Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of relenting.

"I'm a realist and understand that most likely the war will drag on for the next three or four years. I hope society will mobilise, I hope we'll be able to somehow defeat Russia," said Denys Symonovskiy, a Kyiv resident.

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, the regional governor said. In Dnipro, a Russian drone hit an apartment building and a rescue operation uncovered two dead.

Meanwhile, a source in Kyiv said Ukrainian drones caused a blaze at a Russian steel plant, which a Russian official identified as one in Lipetsk, some 400 km (250 miles) from Ukraine, that is responsible for about 18% of Russian output.