Rallies Mark Second Anniversary of Ukraine Invasion

Rallies Mark Second Anniversary of Ukraine Invasion
Members of the Australian-Ukrainian community carry a Ukrainian flag during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Sydney on Feb. 26, 2022. (Steven SAPHORE/AFP via Getty Images)

Supporters of Ukraine have marked the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion with rallies in Canberra and around Australia.

Demonstrators on Saturday gathered outside the Russian embassy to protest Moscow’s war against Ukraine, two years after Russian forces began their offensive.

Independent Senator David Pocock and ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury joined the rally in Canberra, while thousands were expected to attend events in other capital cities.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said two years on since Russia’s full-scale invasion, Australia was unwavering in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Australia remains steadfast in supporting Ukraine to defend itself, and to holding those responsible for Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion to account,” the minister said in a statement on Saturday.

Senator Wong also announced further financial sanctions and travel bans on 55 people, and financial sanctions on 37 entities.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced earlier in February that Australia would give $50 million to the International Fund for Ukraine.

The fund uses contributions from across the world to procure military equipment for Kyiv and provide both lethal and non-lethal support.

Marking the occasion, the coalition called on the Albanese government to reverse its decision to bury Australia’s dumped MRH-90 Taipan helicopters and to instead donate them to Ukraine as requested in 2023.

The government maintains there are none in flying condition.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton called for the reinstatement of an Australian embassy in Kyiv to join more than 67 other diplomatic missions that have returned.

“On this second anniversary, we salute the unwavering strength of Ukrainians which has kept the belligerent advances of Russia at bay,” he said in a joint statement with the opposition foreign affairs and defence spokesmen.

“We mourn with Ukrainians for the displacement, casualties, and fatalities they have suffered at the hands of a murderous dictator.”

Senator Pocock said the international community needed to exert maximum pressure, while providing all possible support to Ukraine.

“Their friends and supporters here in Canberra have shown up week in and week out in solidarity, refusing to be silent and keeping attention on Ukraine’s plight,” he said.

Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko said his country understood it had no other option than to keep fighting.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin underestimated the willingness of Ukrainian people to fight and also the willingness and the resilience of the international coalition of partners who have come together to support democracy,” he told Sky News.

“Supporting Ukraine now is the best way to prevent a larger war in Europe and a chain of reaction of interstate wars around the world.

“So whatever the cost is now, the cost of dealing with a crisis that would come later on will be much more.”