(PresidentialWire.com)- His eyes welled up when the band performed the Ukrainian national anthem. Everyone in the room bowed their heads in respect for one minute. The 45-year-old president of Ukraine spoke to Ukrainian military personnel and a select group of dignitaries at Kyiv’s St. Sophia Square on a drizzly morning, not far from the city’s iconic St. Sophia Cathedral, whose green and gold domes have become a symbol of the city’s perseverance.
On Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a solemn message of defiance to his people and sorrow for the hundreds of troops who had fallen one year after Russia’s full-scale invasion.
“I am proud of all of you who are fighting for Ukraine,” the president said, fighting back the tears.
Zelenskyy, who has shown emotion throughout the conflict, choked up when he presented Hero of Ukraine medals to soldiers (including one on crutches) and the mother of a fallen soldier during the 30-minute ceremony.
The wartime president continues to have enormous popularity in Ukraine. He stays in touch with the people via daily smartphone videos and strives to keep foreign financial and military help flowing in.
Military experts from the West believe there were more than 100,000 casualties on both sides. Tens of thousands of innocent people may have been killed, and millions more have left their homes to avoid being attacked.
Zelenskyy said that “almost everyone” has at least one contact on their phone that they would never call again.
Since early 2022, when Ukrainian troops pushed back a Russian assault on Kyiv, the conflict, which Moscow calls a “special military operation” to safeguard national security, has devolved into a stalemated southwestern and eastern trench battle.
Russia has also been attacking the electricity system of Ukraine in recent months, leaving millions without access to running water and central heating.
The chances of a quick resolution to the conflict are dim, as both nations show no signs of retreating.