a year of russias war on ukraine is marked by protests and defiance

On the anniversary of the invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky held a marathon news conference and vowed victory if Ukraine’s allies remained united like a fist.

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine marked the anniversary of the Russian invasion on Friday with a show of defiance, as anti-Kremlin protests took place around the world and the United States made a significant commitment of new weaponry to the country.

Even as he and his allies braced for a prolonged war, Mr. Zelensky held a marathon news conference in Kyiv, the capital, to rally international support, declaring that Ukraine and the allies supplying it with weapons and other aid would prevail “if we stay as one strong fist and our partners are united for our victory.”

“I am certain there will be victory,” he said. “I don’t think, I know, it will happen this year. We have everything for it: motivation, belief, friends, diplomacy.”

China released an outline for a peace settlement that the West dismissed as a vague nonstarter that might serve only to cement into place Russian gains. The move came as the United States has been warning that Beijing might send weapons to Russia, which could dramatically alter the balance in a fight where both sides have run low on vital munitions.

Mr. Zelensky took care not to say anything that might provoke Beijing, the powerful Moscow ally that he hopes will remain largely on the sidelines of the war — continuing his long balancing act between condemning Russia while avoiding direct criticism of China. Asked about China on Friday, he said little about its proposal, and merely expressed hope that the country would not arm Russia.

Emile Ducke for The New York Times

On the prospects for peace talks, the warring nations continued to talk past one another, each setting preconditions that the other would call capitulation. The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily A. Nebenzya, told the Security Council that his country would only negotiate on how its goals in Ukraine could be achieved.

Mr. Zelensky said that Russia must halt its violence against Ukraine and respect Ukrainian sovereignty before there could be any talks, and asked what negotiation was possible with a nation that continued to kill civilians.

“Those civilians did not have guns in their hands, they had their children in their hands,” he said.

As the Security Council met in New York to discuss the war, protesters outside held up an effigy of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with bloodied hands. In Brussels, hundreds of people gathered in a cold drizzle outside the European Parliament to unfurl a giant Ukrainian flag, sing the Ukrainian national anthem and chant “Slava Ukraini,” or “Glory to Ukraine.” World leaders issued statements deploring the invasion and noting that a year of bloodshed and destruction had passed, with no end in sight.

In Buenos Aires, people gathered in front of the barricaded Russian embassy, playing Russian rock anthems on speakers and waving Ukrainian flags and bearing signs with messages like “Russia Without Putin.”

“This war is a lie,” said Aleksandr Fitasov, 35, one of the event organizers in Buenos Aires. “It’s just to defend President Putin’s power, so he remains president, and to satisfy his empire ambitions to recreate the great Russia, with all the territories.”

Sarah Pabst for The New York Times

Many of the protesters in Buenos Aires were among the thousands of Russians who have fled their country during the war, including some with babies born to parents who hoped that foreign birth certificates and passports would give their children brighter futures. Russian opposition groups say they have organized events in 100 cities in 44 countries over the next three days to protest the war.

Even in Russia, where dissent has been criminalized, there were scattered acts of protest on Friday, from the subtle to the unmistakable — and at least 20 arrests, according to rights groups. In a village near Saint Petersburg, Dmitri Skurikhin painted the names of cities Russia has ravaged on the facade of his store, and knelt outside with a sign saying “Forgive us, Ukraine” — acts that could get him five years in prison.

In a park in Moscow, a steady trickle of people laid flowers at a statue of the Ukrainian poet Larysa Kosach-Kvitka, better known as Lesya Ukrainka, while two police officers watched from a parked squad car nearby. “In order for Russia to become a free and democratic country, it must lose this particular war, in order for the government to change,” said one of the flower bearers, Nikolai, an 18-year-old student whose full name is being withheld for his safety.


In general, however, the mood in Moscow was one of business as usual, with many people saying that they had given little thought to the war, or to Russia’s isolation.

There was little news on Friday from the battlefield, where the war has already done damage beyond comprehension: hundreds of thousands killed or wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, cities and towns almost completely flattened, millions of Ukrainians made homeless, and millions more struggling through winter with insufficient shelter, heat or electricity — or even, in some cases, enough food and water.

The war has reverberated around the globe, reshaping and strengthening alliances, and affecting everything from grain prices to energy policy. But even though Russia has found itself more isolated from the West and sanctions have damaged the country’s economy, they have failed to bring it to its knees. China, India and others continue to trade with Moscow and provide it with diplomatic support.

Throughout the war, China has presented itself as neutral, even as it has aligned more closely with Russia. The proposal it released on Friday calls for peace talks and a cease-fire, though Russia still holds a large swath of Ukrainian territory in four provinces it claims to have annexed. It does not call for withdrawal of Russian troops.

Pool photo by Alexander Nemenov

Beijing repeated points it had made before, without naming any country as perpetrator or victim, in language broad enough to be open to interpretation. The Chinese statement calls for “respecting the sovereignty of all countries,” but does not address Mr. Putin’s insistence that Ukraine is not a real country and merely a temporarily estranged part of Russia.

And it calls for an end to sanctions imposed without approval from the Security Council, where Russia and China both hold veto power — a reference to the penalties the United States, the European Union and Britain have imposed on Russia.

“Security is not an exclusive right enjoyed only by some countries,” Wang Yi, China’s top foreign policy official, told the Security Council. “The security of one country should not be pursued at the expense of others.”

Mr. Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador, praised the Chinese statement, while at the same meeting, Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, dismissed it without mentioning it directly.

“Members of this council should not fall into the false equivalency of calling on both sides to stop fighting, or calling on other nations to stop supporting Ukraine in the name of peace,” he said.

“In this war, there is an aggressor and a victim,” he added.

The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against 200 Russian people and entities. It also announced the release of $2 billion in additional military aid, raising the U.S. total to about $32 billion in the past year, although President Biden on Friday night said in an interview with ABC News that he was “ruling out” sending Ukraine F-16 fighter jets for the moment. The European Union, Britain and Canada also announced new sanctions.

When Mr. Zelensky was asked at his news conference about the possibility of China sending weapons to Russia, he at first ducked the question, but minutes later it was asked again.

Roman Pilipey/Getty Images

“I really want to believe that China is not going to supply weapons to Russia,” he said, adding that it would elevate the risk of a world war. “I want to believe China is going to side with the idea of peace and fairness.”

Mr. Zelensky was more directly critical of Israel, a country with Western alliances that has offered limited, quiet support for Ukraine while trying to remain on good terms with Russia.

“I really want them to be more than a mediator, but to choose a side,” he said. “The Ukrainian side.”

Sliding easily between Ukrainian and English, Mr. Zelensky demonstrated his penchant for courting Western media and their audiences. He spent well over two hours answering questions, often at some length, acknowledging uncertainty on some fronts but insisting, “I am confident we will have this victory, and hope it will happen this year.”

He opened his news conference by thanking the news media and noting the journalists, foreign and domestic, who had died covering the war.

“The fact that the whole world is not forgetting about Ukraine, this allows us to remain strong to remain invincible,” he said. He then stood for a minute of silence.

Marc Santora reported from Kyiv, Ukraine, and Richard Pérez-Peña from New York. Reporting was contributed by Farnaz Fassihi and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura from New York, Michael D. Shear from Washington, Monika Pronczuk from Brussels, and Cassandra Vinograd, Matt Surman and Euan Ward from London.

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