People across the World Gather to Mark War Anniversary

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
People carrying Ukrainian national flags and anti-war signs participate in a torchlight procession in the district where the Russian Embassy is in Rome, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — World landmarks were lit up in the colors of Ukraine’s national flag as people across the globe threw their support behind the country Friday on the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House gleamed in yellow and blue in solemn remembrance of the outbreak of the war on Feb. 24, 2022.

The conflict has affected economies worldwide, bringing shortages of energy, grain and fertilizer, and the date drew people to peace rallies and other events in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, as well as Europe.

Among the memorials, stunts and ceremonies, a wrecked Russian tank was put on display in Berlin, a bloody cake with a skull on top of it was left in a Belgrade street, Ukraine’s flag was held aloft amid tears in the sizzling Bangkok sun, and Japanese monks prayed for the dead.

A rusting T-72 tank was placed outside the prominent Russian Embassy building on the German capital’s Unter den Linden boulevard.

The tank was struck in the Kyiv region in the early stages of the war. It was taken to Berlin by a private group, which said that the Ukrainian defense ministry’s Military History Museum had loaned it. Destroyed Russian armor litters parts of Ukraine after months of battlefield setbacks for the Kremlin’s forces.

“The whole world should see that there are many people in Germany who stand behind Ukraine, so that’s why we’re putting the Russians’ scrap tank in front of their door,” said Wieland Giebel of the Berlin Story group, who was one of the exhibit’s organizers.

In Serbia, whose government has maintained friendly relations with Russia and has refused to join Western sanctions designed to punish Moscow for its invasion, police moved in to stop a group of anti-war activists from reaching the Russian Embassy in the capital, Belgrade.

The activists wanted to hand over a demand for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be put on trial for genocide in Ukraine. They left a cake, covered with red icing representing blood and with a skull on top of it, on the pavement near the embassy.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stepped outside his office at No. 10 Downing Street, joining Ukraine’s ambassador and some Ukrainian soldiers being trained in the United Kingdom for a minute’s silence in commemoration of those killed in the fighting.

King Charles III published a message lauding the “remarkable courage and resilience” of the Ukrainian people.

A teenage Ukrainian pianist forced to flee her country with her mother when the war broke out gave a solo performance at a shopping mall in the city of Liverpool in northwest England.

Alisa Bushuieva, 13, wore a traditional Ukrainian floral headband and dress as she played her country’s national anthem.

At a convention center in Utrecht, Netherlands, about 2,000 Ukrainian refugees gathered to hear by video link a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and in Brussels hundreds waved the Ukrainian flag and chanted “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Ukraine).

In northern Europe, people placed candles on the steps of Helsinki Cathedral at a memorial event for Ukraine war victims, and in southern Europe peace quotations printed on jute bags were displayed in Rome as part of an installation by Italian artist Gianfranco Meggiato entitled “The Meeting: The Symbol of Peace.”

In Poland, thousands of Poles, Ukrainians and Belarusians gathered before Russia’s embassy in Warsaw to protest. They held national flags and signs with the name of Ukrainians killed in the war written on them.

Marchers in Bulgaria’s capital of Sofia waved Ukrainian flags and carried banners that read: “Ukraine will win” and “No to Russian terror.” They were joined by some of the 50,000 Ukrainian refugees that found shelter in Bulgaria over the past year.

Moscow planned no special events for Friday, as most Russians took a nationwide day off amid an extended public holiday. As part of authorities’ relentless effort to prevent any sign of dissent, police in some areas visited activists’ homes to warn them against trying to stage any demonstrations.

Ukrainians living in Brazil protested outside the Russian Consulate in Sao Paulo, with one sign comparing Putin to Adolf Hitler.

Ukrainians in Lebanon chanted slogans during a Beirut rally and held up signs saying, “Stand strong with Ukraine” and “No terrorism.” Ukrainians and their supporters also marked the anniversary in Tel Aviv.

In Georgia, thousands of people marched through the streets of Tbilisi, the country’s capital, chanting “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!”

“I think that Georgians should support Ukraine, because Ukraine is fighting for us, too. Ukraine’s victory means our victory,” said Tsira Zhvania, a student who joined the rally in Tbilisi on Friday. “Unlike the Georgian government, Georgian people should stand with the people of Ukraine.”

Dozens of South Koreans and Ukrainian expatriates gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Seoul. They held candles and banners demanding the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

About 1,000 people protested in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park, holding banners that said: “Russia, stop invading Ukraine.” Outside the city’s United Nations’ University, demonstrators held a candlelight vigil, and at Zenkoji temple in Nagano in central Japan, about 30 monks prayed for the lives lost in the war.

People also placed flowers outside the Ukrainian consulate in Bali, Indonesia, in tribute to those killed in the war.

Ukrainians living in Thailand gathered outside their embassy in Bangkok. About 50 people, many wearing their national colors, sang the national anthem as an embassy official raised the flag. Several wept during a speech by the embassy’s charge d’affaires, in which he urged them to stay strong.

Iliana Martsenyak, originally from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which has been pummeled by Russian barrages, wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke of how the anniversary made her feel.

“Honestly, I cannot find any words to describe how me and every single Ukrainian feels today because of this absolutely irrational, cruel and awful war that has been brought to our land,” she said.

The group marched to a nearby city park, holding Ukrainian flags and protest signs aloft. They stopped at the library of Lumpini park, largely in silence as a mother embraced her young daughter and others stared resolutely into the distance.