(Kyiv) Ukraine garnered pledges of support against Moscow on Saturday at 90e anniversary of the Holodomor, the famine deliberately caused by the Stalinist regime in the 1930s, which has acquired new resonance since the Russian invasion.
France Media Agency
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has assured that his people will hold their ground in the face of Russian attacks, which regularly cause massive power and water cuts as winter temperatures set in.
“Ukrainians have been through really terrible things. And despite everything, they retained the ability not to submit and their love of freedom. In the past they wanted to destroy us with hunger, now with darkness and cold,” Zelensky said in a video posted on Telegram.
“We cannot be broken,” he said.
Several European leaders made the trip to Kyiv on Saturday for the commemorations of the Holodomor, which Ukraine considers a “genocide”.
The Prime Ministers of Poland and Lithuania, two of Ukraine’s closest supporters, Mateusz Morawiecki and Ingrida Simonyte, thus spoke with their counterpart Denis Chmygal.
The three leaders issued a joint statement after the meeting emphasizing their continued support for Ukraine and denouncing Russia’s actions.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also paid a visit to Kyiv, his first since the start of the Russian invasion.
According to the Belga agency, it provides additional financial support of 37.4 million euros for Ukraine, in particular to help the population to cope with winter in a context of power cuts.
“Arrived in Kyiv. After the violent bombardments of the past few days, we stand with the Ukrainian people. More than ever before,” he tweeted.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in a video additional aid of 15 million euros to support Ukrainian grain exports, disrupted by the war.
French President Emmanuel Macron has also promised an additional 6 million euros for these exports, which are vital for the supply of many countries in Africa and Asia.
“We have chosen to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable countries. Russia, meanwhile, continues to use hunger as a means of pressure and food as a weapon of war,” he said in a message.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also pledged EU support, accusing Russia of “using food as a weapon”.
The German Parliament took the decision on Friday to define as “genocide” the Holodomor, which caused the death of several million Ukrainians in 1932 and 1933 against a backdrop of land collectivization.
Russia rejects this classification, arguing that the great famine that raged in the USSR in the early 1930s claimed not only Ukrainian victims, but also Russians, Kazakhs, and among other peoples.
At the Holodomor Memorial Center in central Kyiv, a dozen Orthodox priests dressed in black and silver robes gathered on Saturday for a religious ceremony honoring the victims of the famine.
“It was an artificially created genocidal famine… Now that we are living through this massive war launched without provocation by Russia against Ukraine, we see history repeating itself,” Pope Oleksandre Chmurgin, 38, told AFP. .
Among those gathered to commemorate the victims of the famine, lawyer Andriï Savtchouk, 39, spoke of an “irreparable” loss for Ukraine.
“Stalin’s system, the repressive state wanted to destroy Ukraine as a nation. Today we see that the efforts made by Stalin are continued by (President Vladimir) Putin,” he said.
On the front, prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine continued on Saturday with 12 people released on the Kyiv side. Moscow, for its part, announced that it had recovered nine of its men.
In Dnipro, in central Ukraine, a Russian bombardment left at least 13 injured, according to regional governor Valentin Reznitchenko.
Another strike on Chassiv Iar, in the east, left at least one dead and two injured, the regional prosecutor’s office said.
In the capital, where part of the population has spent the last three days without electricity after massive Russian strikes on Wednesday, the municipality has announced that it has restored 75% of the power supply and 90% of the heating, as temperatures approach zero degree Celsius.