Rishi Sunak leads minute’s silence for Ukraine as Boris Johnson lights candle at poignant service
Boris Johnson lit one of 52 candles – each marking a week of Russia‘s war on Ukraine – during a poignant prayer service one year since the invasion began.
The former Prime Minister joined the service at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London today, the one year anniversary. He looked solemn as he took part in the tribute.
Ukraine’s embassador for Britain Vadym Prystaiko and his wife Inna Prystaiko were among the attendees, as well as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, all who were pictured lighting candles in tribute.
Mr Johnson described it as a ‘powerful’ service in a tweet this morning.
‘We paid tribute to all those who have lost their lives in the year since Putin launched his illegal and horrific invasion,’ he wrote.
His message came as King Charles III condemned the ‘unprovoked full-scale attack’ on Ukraine and declared that the world stood ‘united’.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko and his wife Inna Prystaiko, observe a one-minute silence
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson lights one of 52 candles – one for each week of the war
Charles said in his message: ‘It has now been a year that the people of Ukraine have suffered unimaginably from an unprovoked full-scale attack on their nation. They have shown truly remarkable courage and resilience in the face of such human tragedy.
‘The world has watched in horror at all the unnecessary suffering inflicted upon Ukrainians, many of whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting here in the UK and, indeed, across the world, from Romania to Canada.
‘Earlier this month I met President Zelensky at Buckingham Palace to express my personal support for the people of Ukraine. It is heartening that the United Kingdom, along with its allies, is doing everything possible to help at this most difficult time.
‘Therefore, I can only hope the outpouring of solidarity from across the globe may bring not only practical aid, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united.’
Mr Johnson, who was Prime Minister when the war began and when few believed Ukraine could hold out against Russia, has become a vocal advocate of the need to send fighter jets to the Ukrainians.
‘Now is the time to give President Zelensky the tools the Ukrainians need to finish the job,’ he has said.
‘The last year has taught us that sooner or later, the West gives the Ukrainians what they need.
‘And if that is the choice – sooner or later – let’s make it sooner, for the sake of Ukraine and the world.
‘A swift Ukrainian victory is the humane, compassionate and economically sensible outcome.’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also lights one of the candles during the prayer service in London
An ecumenical prayer service at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London
Ukraine’s embassador for Britain Vadym Prystaiko (R) and his wife Inna Prystaiko (L)
Boris Johnson described the service as ‘powerful’ in a tweet this morning
A woman dries her tears during the prayer service today, on the one year anniversary of Ukraine’s invasion by Russia
‘We paid tribute to all those who have lost their lives in the year since Putin launched his illegal and horrific invasion,’ Mr Johnson said
A woman praying during the service as many paid poignant tributes
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) speaks to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (left)
Children from St Mary’s Ukrainian School attended the service
PM Rishi Sunak, who will also host members of the Ukrainian armed forces in Downing Street as well as ambassador Vadym Prystaiko, will hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of No 10 accompanied by his wife Akshata Murty.
‘As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country,’ he said.
‘I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict. As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that the country’s support ‘is as firm and unstinting today as it was on that dark day one year ago’.
‘As we mark this solemn anniversary and look ahead to the coming months, we must do the same. Regardless of what other political disagreements we may have, we stand in lockstep with the Government on this issue,’ he said.
‘No-one should ever have to face the hardship and loss that the Ukrainian people have over the last year.
‘Their fight for democracy, freedom and liberty in the face of tyranny is also our fight. Standing with our Nato allies, we will ensure Putin’s defeat and Ukraine’s victory.’
King Charles III condemned the ‘unprovoked full-scale attack’ on Ukraine and declared that the world stood ‘united’
Ukraine’s president has pledged to push for victory in 2023 as he and other Ukrainians marked the sombre first anniversary of the Russian invasion that changed their lives.
As dawn broke on a day of commemorations and defiance, President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that Ukrainians had proven themselves to be ‘invincible’ in what he called ‘a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity’.
‘We know that 2023 will be the year of our victory!’ the tweet said.
In a defiant video address, Mr Zelensky recalled the terror unleashed a year ago by the Russian assault, triggering Europe’s biggest and deadliest war since the Second World War.
He said February 24, 2022, the date of the Russian invasion, was ‘the longest day of our lives’.
‘We survived the first day of the full-scale war. We didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but we clearly understood that for each tomorrow, you need to fight. And we fought,’ he said.
A year on, casualty figures are horrific on both sides, with Western estimates suggesting hundreds of thousands have been killed or wounded.
Economic and diplomatic repercussions have rippled across the globe.