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 died in violent clashes with security forces when Ukrainians took to the streets of the capital in 2013, demanding to move Ukraine out of the orbit of Vladimir Putin’s Russia and “join” the family of European democracies to which it “historically belongs”.
The “Revolution of Dignity” protests ultimately led to the ouster of Kremlin-backed President Victor Yanukovych and gave space to the rise of a new generation of anticorruption, pro-democracy movement leaders.
“The first victory in today’s war took place. A victory against indifference. A victory of courage. The victory of the Revolution of Dignity,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Tuesday.
He praised his country’s progress towards gaining membership in the European Union since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February of last year.
“Year after year, step by step, we do our best to ensure that our star shines in the circle of stars on the EU flag, which symbolises the unity of the peoples of Europe. The star of Ukraine,” he said.
His comments come as Russian forces chip away at Ukraine’s sovereignty and continue their full-on invasion of their smaller neighbour.
Show of support
A number of foreign leaders made trips to Kyiv in a show of solidarity. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius arrived by train for an unannounced visit to reaffirm Berlin’s backing for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s troops.
“I am here again, firstly to pledge further support, but also to express our solidarity and deep bond and also our admiration for the courageous, brave and costly fight that is being waged here,” he said laying flowers at Maidan square in central Kyiv.
Also in Kyiv on Tuesday, European Council President Charles Michel, shared a post on the social media platform X, saying it was “Good to be back in Kyiv – among friends”. He posted a picture of himself shaking hands with the EU ambassador to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova.
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu arrived in Kyiv early on Tuesday to join Zelenskyy in honouring the memory of those who died during the Revolution of Dignity, her office said on X.
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday “to meet with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the staunch support of the United States for Ukraine’s fight for freedom”, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, visited Ukraine last week to underline British support for Kyiv amid its ongoing war with Russia. He told Zelenskyy the UK would support Ukraine for “however long it takes”.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on the anniversary of 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 questioned what the dream of Europe had brought Ukraine.
“From a prosperous, industrially developed, densely populated ex-Soviet republic, Ukraine has turned into an impoverished, dying territory,” she said, according to comments published on the Foreign Ministry website.
Ukraine had lost its independence as a result of the Maidan events, she said. “Western colonisers determine its domestic and foreign policy.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also made statements saying Russia cannot coexist with the “regime” in Ukraine.
“The current regime is absolutely toxic, we do not see any options for co-existence with it at the moment,” Russian ambassador-at-large Rodion Miroshnik said on Tuesday.
He further stated that in order for the war to end, Ukraine must be “de-militarised and de-nazified” so as not to be deemed a threat to Russia.