Ukrainians in Australia Mark Russian Invasion Anniversary

SYDNEY — Ukrainians and their supporters marched through Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"365 Days Strong" was the rallying call for the march in Sydney.

About 1,000 people marched though the city before holding a candlelit vigil outside the city’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Rally organizers say the mood was somber yet defiant and that the gathering has honored "the heroic resistance of the brave Ukrainian people."

Andrew Mencinsky is the vice president of the Ukrainian Council of New South Wales. He told VOA Thursday that the vigil was a time to reflect on what he called a "horrific year."

"There is an immense amount of trauma that people have suffered. There is an immense amount of human loss of life that people have experienced. Almost every person who is marching today knows someone who has been injured or knows someone who has lost a loved one, and so tonight we are gathering to honor those people that have fallen," said Mencinsky.

Vigils were also held Thursday in Canberra and Melbourne.

Rallies are scheduled in Brisbane and Perth on Friday.

Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine’s war effort, supplying missiles and armored personnel carriers.

Since the invasion began a year ago, Australia has imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian politicians, including President Vladimir Putin, military commanders and businesspeople. They are the most sweeping penalties Australia has ever placed on another country. It has also banned the importation of Russian oil, petroleum, coal and gas.

Since February 2022, Australia has granted visas to almost 10,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Australia has also committed $680,000 and three staff members to support the International Criminal Court investigation into alleged Russian war crimes.

The government has condemned "Russia’s unilateral, illegal and immoral aggression against the people of Ukraine."