Wrecked Russian tank, skull and silence mark war anniversary
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A wrecked Russian tank put on display in Berlin, a bloody cake with a skull on top of it left in a Belgrade street and Ukraine’s yellow-and-blue flag held aloft in the sizzling Bangkok sun were among the memorials, stunts and ceremonies held across the world Friday to mark the anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour.
The 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, which began on February 24, 2022. It was taken to Berlin by a private group, which said that the Ukrainian defense ministry’s Military History Museum 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 organisers.
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.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stepped outside his office at number 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 issued 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, age 13, wore a traditional Ukrainian floral headband and dress as she played her country’s national anthem.
In Rome, peace quotations printed on jute bags were displayed as part of an installation by Italian artist Gianfranco Meggiato entitled “The Meeting: The Symbol of Peace.”
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.
The commemorations of a grim year for Ukraine spread as far as Asia.
Peace rallies were held in Tokyo and Seoul, and people 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 colours, 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.
Some of the anniversary commemorations began Thursday evening, when the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Portuguese parliament building in Lisbon were lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The Sydney Opera House followed suit on Friday.
A vigil took place in London’s Trafalgar Square, organised by the Ukrainian and US embassies, and 461 paper angels were hung from the roof of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London to commemorate each Ukrainian child that has died in the past year.
Other events were scheduled for later Friday across Europe.