Defiant protests mark two years since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

February 26, 2024
Ukrainians and supporters outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Gadigal/Sydney on February 24. Photo: Federico Fuentes

Ukrainian community members and supporters rallied outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Gadigal/Sydney on February 24 to commemorate the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion and Ukraine’s ongoing resistance.

Rally MCs began with an Acknowledgement of Country followed by a minute’s silence for the “brave and heroic defenders of Ukraine who have fallen in the struggle against Russian aggression and genocide”.

The minute’s silence was dedicated to the “sons and family members of those who stand here, and who felt compelled to go and fight against Russian aggression … and sacrificed their lives for a better life for their families, their loved ones, for all of us.”


Photo: Federico Fuentes

Ukrainian ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko recalled how “Russia thought it could take over Kyiv in ten days. But two years later, we are still standing.

“This was due to our readiness to fight and the readiness of our partners to support our fight. These last two years we have demonstrated we can defend territories, inflict damages on the aggressors and even neutralise their Black Sea navy.

“Properly equipped we are capable of defeating Russian troops — and we will not need to have a third anniversary.”


Photo: Federico Fuentes

Andrew Mencinsky, the vice-president of the Ukrainian Council of NSW, the event organizers, noted that Ukrainians were “fighting Russian authoritarianism, terror and genocide”.

He outlined how on top of the tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed by Russia, it is also responsible for having damaged or destroyed 3800 educational facilities and 1500 medical facilities, and kidnapping and deporting more than 19000 Ukrainian children to Russia against their will.

“Ukraine needs our help now or it will be destroyed. Ukraine needs more military aid now to defeat the Russian invaders,” Mencinsky said.


Photo: Federico Fuentes

A young Ukrainian boy, who arrived in Australia just six months ago, read a poem about the destruction of his hometown of Dnieper, for which he won an award at school. A Ukrainian woman who received a scholarship to attend the Conservatorium of Arts also played a song.

Other speakers included Linda Voltz, NSW Labor MP for Auburn and Australian Financial Review war correspondent Misha Zelinsky, who was in Ukraine when Russia’s full-scale invasion began on February 24, 2022.

Video messages from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, NSW Premier Chris Minns and other Labor and Liberal MPs were played and diplomats and community leaders representing Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovakia were brought on stage.

Alex Salmon reports that more than 100 members of the Ukrainian community and their supporters gathered in Murray Street Mall in Boorloo/Perth on the same day.


Photo: Alex Salmon

Following an Acknowledgement of Country, members of the Ukrainian community addressed the crowd, urging Australia’s government to continue supporting them in the fight against Russia’s occupation.

A member of the Iranian community expressed their solidarity with Ukraine’s struggle and thanking the Ukrainian community for the support they have given to the pro-democracy movement in Iran.

Anne McMenamin from Kaurna Yerta/Adelaide reports that a solemn but defiant protest was organised by the Ukrainian community on the steps of Parliament House on February 22. About 300 people attended, including representatives from the local Polish, Slovenian and Lithuanian communities, among others.


Photo: Joanna Tatarchuk McMenamin

Two representatives from the 400 Ukrainian refugees in South Australia spoke about their uncertain future, while officials from two local Ukrainian churches gave prayers and blessings. Other speakers included several state and federal parliamentarians from Labor and the Coalition.

Rallies were also held in Naarm/Melbourne and Ngunnawal/Canberra.

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