Ukraine’s Canada ambassador says joy is gone, but hope remains after 1 year of war – National

Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine said he woke up worried about what the day would bring as the war began two years after Russia’s invasion.

For most Ukrainians whom Larisa Galaza spoke to, the anniversary of the invasion was not a day of reflection, and they still live it every day.

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“There is no room for reflection,” Galazza said in a conference room at the Canadian Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine.

“I know that myself.”

She retreated to the western city of Lviv with Canadian staff before fleeing the country on February 24, 2022. That was when missile strikes rained down on the country at dawn as Russian tanks advanced from the northern border with Belarus towards the capital of the capital. From Kyiv and south.

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Galaza said she knew from the first days of the invasion that she would be returning to Ukraine, but the question was what state the country would be in when she returned and under whose leadership. That was it.

Some feared the city would fall under Russian occupation, but a year later, the Ukrainian flag still flutters over Maidan Square in central Kiev.

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Still, the streets of the capital are quiet as residents fear a possible Russian missile strike to mark the anniversary.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force said earlier this week that the military expects several waves of Russian attacks to mark the first anniversary of the war.

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By noon, Kiev’s relief sirens remained silent.

Galadza said the atmosphere in Kiev was much darker than before the war.

“Joy is gone. Hope is there,” she said. “The determination is there. It’s clear.”

Click to play video: 'Ukrainians reflect and look ahead after a year of war'

Ukrainians reflect and look ahead after a year of war

People feel gratitude too, she said. Garraza started the day by attending a ceremony held in Plaza Sofia. At the ceremony, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to the military and civilians who helped in the war effort. Some awards were given posthumously and accepted by the parents of the fallen soldiers.

“It made a lot of sense to do it in the middle of Kiev, which we thought Russia would occupy in a few hours,” she said. “It was powerful.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would stand with Ukraine until the war ended, but Galazza said the assistance would likely go beyond that to include reconstruction efforts.

Ukraine liberated five regions last spring and rebuilding these communities is a top priority for the Ukrainian government, she said.

“That’s how they bring people back to their homes and bring Ukrainians back to the country, and it’s going to be an international effort,” she said.

“We are going to do this together.”

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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