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Euromaidan Press
24 Feb 2024
Orysia Hrudka

“No one believed, but Ukraine believed,” Ukraine’s Com-in-Chief about anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion

“Between weapons and evacuation, we chose weapons,” Syrskyi says about the beginning of Russian full-scale attack.
Syrsky commander in chief Ukraine
Syrskyi (now Commander-in-Chief) in 2022 as Land Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi with frontline units. Photo: his TG channel

Today marks the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation into Ukrainian territory. Reminding the world of this event, Chief Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Syrskyi, shared his reflections.

According to him, these two years have transformed a decade-long war into the largest-scale war in Europe since World War II. “When massive columns of Russian occupiers advanced from all directions into Ukraine, when thousands of rockets and bombs fell on our land, no one in the world believed we would endure. No one, except the Ukrainian Defense Forces, who engaged the enemy from the first moments,” he shared.

Syrskyi emphasizes that it was not just the military, but also hundreds of thousands of volunteers who stood in lines at military enlistment offices in the early hours of the full-scale aggression. It was also hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who joined the Territorial Defense Forces from the first days. Millions of Ukrainians supported their army unprecedentedly through volunteer efforts.

“No one believed, but Ukraine believed! Believed, took up the fight, and stood firm. Between weapons and evacuation, we chose weapons. Then came the battle for Kyiv and the retreat of occupiers from the suburbs under the blows of our defenders,” adds Syrskyi.

He further recounts the liberation of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island and the gradual clearing of the Black Sea from Russian scrap metal. The operations in Kharkiv and the liberation of Kherson followed.

“There was also an attempt at a Ukrainian counteroffensive, which, unfortunately, due to objective circumstances, did not yield the desired result. Today, we continue to fight the enemy along the entire front line. For our freedom, to ensure that every Ukrainian city or village does not become another Bucha, Bahmut, or Avdiivka – we pay the highest price. The best sons and daughters of the Ukrainian people are sacrificed!” writes the Chief Commander.

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“We bow our heads to those who gave the most valuable – their lives for Ukraine. We remember! We will retaliate!” he adds.

“Today, my words of gratitude go to all Ukrainian defenders, who at this moment are repelling Russian attacks and destroying the enemy. A low bow to medics, rescuers, volunteers – to all those who help the Ukrainian Defense Forces bring our Victory closer! On this day, I also want to thank our partners for their assistance. Every shell, every tank, every armored vehicle is primarily the preservation of the lives of Ukrainian soldiers. We are fighting for every meter of our land, but the most precious thing we have is the life of a Ukrainian soldier,” Syrskyi expresses.

“I believe that in the near future, we will give an asymmetrical response to the Russian occupier, even in the air. There will be more burning Russian planes. The state leadership is doing everything possible for this. And finally, about the most important thing. Today, more than ever, we need unity. I am convinced that in unity lies our victory. And it will definitely come. Because light always conquers darkness!” Syrskyi concludes.

The recent appointment of General Oleksandr Syrskyi as Ukraine’s new Commander-in-Chief signals a notable shift in military leadership. President Zelenskyy’s decision to replace the popular Valeriy Zaluzhnyi has sparked speculation about the reasons behind the reshuffle. Tensions between the leaders emerged in 2022, with Zelenskyy’s concerns about Zaluzhnyi’s popularity and differing war strategies. Despite Zaluzhnyi’s credit for saving Kyiv during the initial invasion, his dismissal was attributed to failed counteroffensives and bureaucratic challenges. The appointment of Syrskyi, born and trained in Russia, brings in a seasoned general known for tough decision-making. As Ukraine faces evolving challenges, including rebuilding military trust and countering Russian advances, international support remains crucial in navigating this critical juncture.