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The King has criticised Russia’s “indescribable aggression” and praised Ukrainians for their “true valour” on the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion.

Saturday marked two years since Vladimir Putin unleashed war on Ukraine, seeking to crush Ukrainian democracy under tank treads as his forces tried to capture Kyiv.

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In a message released by Buckingham Palace, the King said: “The determination and strength of the Ukrainian people continues to inspire, as the unprovoked attack on their land, their lives and livelihoods enters a third, tragic, year.

“Despite the tremendous hardship and pain inflicted upon them, Ukrainians continue to show the heroism with which the world associates them so closely.

“Theirs is true valour, in the face of indescribable aggression.”

The King added that he continues to be “greatly encouraged” that the UK and its allies remain committed to supporting Ukraine.

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A woman visits the grave of her relative, a killed Ukrainian defender, in Lviv. Pic: Reuters

As the war enters its third year, Russian forces hold around 18% of Ukraine’s land mass and are mounting new offensives in the east, buoyed by the capture of the ruined town of Avdiivka.

In Lviv in western Ukraine, women cried as a priest led prayers in a cemetery festooned with blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags, each marking the death of a soldier.

“The boys are holding the front line. We can only imagine what effort and price is paid for every peaceful day we have,” said Evhenia Demchuk, a widow and mother-of-two.

“I want to believe it’s not all in vain. We have funerals every day,” she added. “We believe victory will be ours. It is all obtained at a very high price.”

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Justin Trudeau. Pic: Reuters

In the capital, Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met world leaders, including Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Both foreign leaders signed security agreements with Ukraine, joining Britain, Germany, France and Denmark in concluding 10-year security deals with Kyiv that are intended to shore up Ukraine’s security until it can reach its aim of becoming a member of the NATO military alliance.

Speaking on X, Mr Zelenskyy paid tribute to his people.

“I admire each one of you. I believe in each one of you.”

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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrives at a railway station in Kyiv. Pic: Reuters

Mr Zelenskyy vowed that Ukraine would prevail and that a just peace would be secured.

“I thank all of our soldiers, our people, and everyone around the world who stands with us and the truth. Glory to Ukraine!”

In the UK, commemorations in London began with an interfaith prayer service at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Mayfair.

Read more:
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Ukrainian troops tell of crippling ammunition shortages

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4:43

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The leading Ukrainian Catholic bishop in the UK, Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, said his compatriots are “resolved to win the war” and have experienced a “two-year unending nightmare”.

Elsewhere in the capital, large crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest against President Putin’s aggression as protesters waved Ukrainian flags, chanting “Russia is a terrorist state”.

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