Ukrainian resolve strong as ever with war now entering third year - Steve Cardownie

Last Sunday saw the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war shows no sign of letting up.

Ukrainian resolve is as strong as ever as its armed forces battle to repel Russian troops from Ukrainian soil. But this brave resistance has come at a terrible cost.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had lost their lives since the invasion but did not disclose the number of wounded out of concern that it would assist Russian military planning.

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At a press conference in Kyiv on Sunday he warned that Russia will try to mount another offensive in late May or summer and that Ukraine had a “clear” plan for a counter-offensive as his country waits for the much needed aid from the west which has been delayed by political infighting.

My close friend Yuri, a former Soviet tank commander, told me yesterday that the supply of additional weapons to the front line is crucial if Ukrainian troops are to withstand any Russian advances, saying that his friends on the front line are grateful for the assistance they have received so far but that “they need to be resupplied now before the Russian forces take advantage of the situation”.

Addressing this matter, President Zelensky said that he felt positive about the supply of long-range missiles from Ukraine’s partners and that he is certain that the United States Congress will finally approve the aid earmarked for Ukraine as “they know we need support within a month”.

The US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, recently said: “Of course, Ukraine can win. Ukraine has already succeeded, militarily, in one of the most profound objectives it had, which was to keep the country from falling into Russian hands. It has already done that. And Ukraine can go further in retaking territory that Russia has occupied, ensuring that Russia fails and ensuring that Ukraine prevails.”

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He went on to say crucially that: “But it can only do so if it has the tools that it needs. And that is why United States needs to deliver the aid package that passed on a massive bipartisan vote in the Senate. The House needs to step up and pass that bill.”

President Zelensky also remarked on the resistance that the population has so far demonstrated but warned that: “Now is the most difficult moment for our unity and if we fall apart, from the outside and God forbid inside, then this will be the weakest moment. It has not happened yet.”

In the meantime, back here, my Ukrainian relatives have continued to get involved with the local community, either learning or improving their English at lessons held locally.

Excelling in their studies at local schools they are determined to embrace what their “new home” has to offer, no matter how temporary their stay might be.

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They have been made welcome by their neighbours in Leith which has gone a long way to compensate them for being separated from friends and family in Ukraine.

They never expected to be here two years on from when they arrived, but they asked me to pass on their heartfelt thanks to the people of Edinburgh for helping them to adjust to life in this city.