Amid the graves, Zelenskiy vows: ‘We will never forget our Ukrainian heroes’

Ukraine prepares to mark two years since start of Russia’s all-out invasion

At the historic Lychakiv cemetery in Lviv, the paths between the growing ranks of graves trace Ukraine’s long and bloody road to independence.

It is the resting place for thousands who died fighting over this land: Austro-Hungarian and Polish troops, Soviet soldiers and secret policemen, and Ukrainians who tried to forge a sovereign state from the ruins of the first and second World Wars, and their descendants who for a decade have beaten back Russian aggression.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Lychakiv on Friday as Ukraine prepared to mark two years since the start of Russia’s all-out invasion, which followed eight years of conflict between Kyiv and Moscow-led militia in the eastern Donbas area.

“We will never forget the heroes who defended our independence, freedom and future. Eternal glory to all those who gave their lives for Ukraine,” he said after laying flowers at Lychakiv, where one or more soldiers are buried nearly every day.


Ukraine is now under pressure on the battlefield, short of fresh soldiers to reinforce the 1,000km front line and wondering if US Republicans will release more vital military aid.

The Kremlin, by contrast, is bullish. Russia recently took the ruined Donbas town of Avdiivka in its first notable gain in nine months, seems to have a steady flow of new recruits from its poorest regions and is ramping up military production while receiving arms from North Korea and Iran.

Yet hundreds of thousands of Russians have been killed and injured in Ukraine, and the only provincial capital to fall to Putin’s invasion force in the last two years – Kherson in the southeast – was liberated in late 2022.

Russia has lost Europe as a buyer and seller of goods, making it reliant on China, and its aggression has made Nato stronger by prompting Finland and Sweden to join the bloc. In trying to reconquer Ukraine, Russia actually accelerated its integration with the West in ways that were unimaginable just two years ago.

Mr Zelenskiy met Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen in Lviv, and thanked her country for pledging US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and training its pilots to fly them.

“It’s a very powerful weapon,” she said, “I would like to see our Danish F-16 in the air in Ukraine before summer.”

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily - Find the latest episode here