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World Leaders Reflect on Russia Ukraine Attack Anniversary

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds the flag of a military unit as an officer kisses it during a commemorative event on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one-year anniversary in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 24, 2023.

Leaders around the world on Friday weighed in on the one-year anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine, the large majority pledging firm support to Kyiv despite Moscow's defiance.

It was one year ago when Russia, aided by pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatists, crossed the border and began the war that has continued to this day. And this anniversary has caused comment by a number of world leaders and officials.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Ukrainians "will no doubt prevail" in their battle against Russia.

"Freedom is not for free. We must fight for it every day," he said.

"Today it is the Ukrainian people who are bravely fighting for their freedom. And despite a dark year of despair and destruction, their determination and courage will no doubt prevail."

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Russian President Vladimir Putin has "failed to achieve a single" goal.

"One year on from the start of his brutal war, Putin has failed to achieve a single one of his strategic goals... Instead of wiping Ukraine from the map, he is confronted with a nation more vigorous than ever," she said.

Britain's King Charles III condemned Russia's "unprovoked full-scale attack" on Ukraine.

"It has now been a year that the people of Ukraine have suffered unimaginably from an unprovoked full-scale attack on their nation.

"The world has watched in horror at all the unnecessary suffering. Together, we stand united," he said.

President Emmanuel Macron reiterated France's support for Ukraine.

"People of Ukraine, France stands by your side. To solidarity. To victory. To peace", he tweeted.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki travelled to Kyiv "to give a clear and measurable signal of further support in defense of Ukraine against Russia", a Polish government spokesman said.

Neighboring Poland hosts more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees out of the eight million who fled after the invasion, by far the largest amount among European countries.

Going against the tide, the increasingly shrill former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev vowed success in what Moscow has called its Ukraine "special military operation", saying Russia was ready to fight all the way to the Polish border if necessary.

"Victory will be achieved," he said. "This is why it is so important to reach all the goals of the special military operation. To push back the borders of the threats against our country as far as possible, even if this is to the borders of Poland."

Medvedev's comments run counter to those of many military experts and analysts who see the ineptitude of the Russian forces - to the point where Moscow enlisted mercenary group Wagner and its convicts-turned-fighters to stand in front of Kyiv's weapons.