Ukrainians and Yorkshire supporters to unite in Leeds to mark 150 days since Russian invasion began

Members of Yorkshire’s Ukrainian community will gather in Leeds city centre to mark 150 days since Russia invaded Ukraine.
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The war has seen millions of people forced to flee their homes, while the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project has reported that more than 10,000 people have been killed.

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Ukrainians already living in the UK, newly arrived refugees, sponsor families and the general public will gather from 1pm today (July 24) in City Square to show solidarity and give thanks to people across Yorkshire who have shown support.

Sunflowers, a national symbol of Ukraine, will be laid during the event in Leeds city centre. Picture: Paul Marriott/PA WireSunflowers, a national symbol of Ukraine, will be laid during the event in Leeds city centre. Picture: Paul Marriott/PA Wire
Sunflowers, a national symbol of Ukraine, will be laid during the event in Leeds city centre. Picture: Paul Marriott/PA Wire
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Along with various speeches and the singing of Ukraine’s national anthem, attendees will lay 150 sunflowers - one to mark each day of Russia’s invasion as well as the suffering and loss caused.

The names of villages, towns and cities that have been targeted by Russian forces will be read out as the flowers are laid.

It is being organised by Yorkshire branches of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, with representatives from the Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield branches among those due to attend.

Explaining why sunflowers would be laid, the organisers said: “The sunflower is a national symbol of Ukraine, and one of the impacts of war is the shortage of agrarian products that Ukraine is known for, especially the sunflower.

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"Putin is using food shortages, price rises and the threat of starvation as a tool of his war in Ukraine and the event hopes again to showcase how important continued support for Ukraine is.”

Meanwhile, Russia has been widely condemned after missiles hit Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa just hours after Moscow and Kyiv signed deals to allow grain exports to resume from the port.

Two Russian Kalibr cruise missiles hit the port’s infrastructure and Ukrainian air defences brought down two others, the Ukrainian military said. Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko said an unspecified number of people were injured in the attack.

Command spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said no grain storage facilities were hit in Odesa, but Turkey’s defence minister said Ukrainian authorities had told him one missile struck a grain silo and another landed nearby. However, neither affected loading at Odesa’s docks.

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It is not clear how the air strikes will affect the plan to resume shipping Ukrainian grain by sea in safe corridors out of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports: Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

Ukraine and Russia signed identical deals on Friday with the UN and Turkey in Istanbul backing the plan, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed as “a beacon of hope” for a world in which food prices are rising rapidly.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Saturday that the attack shows “the invaders can no longer deceive anyone”.

The head of Mr Zelensky’s office, Andriy Yermak, said on Twitter that the Odesa strike, coming so soon after the endorsement of the Black Sea deal, illustrates “the Russian diplomatic dichotomy”.

Mr Guterres’s office said the UN chief “unequivocally condemns” the strikes, while US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink denounced the strike on Odesa’s port as “outrageous”.