Zelensky (right) participates in a ceremony commemorating the Russian war on Ukraine (Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged - today, Saturday - that Ukraine would defeat Russia, while Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, vowed that Moscow would retaliate for the new sanctions that the West announced to impose on it.

“We have been fighting for this for 730 days of our lives,” Zelensky said during the ceremony marking the second anniversary of the start of the Russian war on Ukraine. “We will win on the best day of our lives.”

He added, "Any normal person wants an end to the war, but none of us will allow the end of Ukraine," stressing that the war should end "on our terms" with a "just" peace.

Zelensky was speaking alongside the prime ministers of Canada, Italy and Belgium and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who came to Kiev to commemorate the second anniversary of the start of the Russian war on Ukraine.

Zelensky hugged the leaders and awarded medals to soldiers during the ceremony held in the courtyard of Gostomel Airport in Kiev, which was attacked by Russian forces with helicopters in the first days of the war.

The Ukrainian president said, "Two years ago we faced an enemy landing force here with fire, and two years later we meet our friends and partners here."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspects Ukrainian weapons captured in battles (French)

Check out the troops

For his part, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected his forces in areas under its control in Ukraine, according to what the army announced - today, Saturday - on the second anniversary of the war.

“Today, in terms of the ratio of forces, we have the advantage,” Shoigu told soldiers at a command center.

The army statement said that Shoigu was informed that Russian forces were in an offensive mode after taking control of the strategic industrial city of Avdiivka.

In another context, the second official in the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, vowed on Saturday that Moscow would retaliate for the new sanctions that the West announced to impose on it on the second anniversary of the start of the Russian war on Ukraine and following the death of opposition figure Alexei Navalny in prison.

The former Russian president wrote on Telegram that the reason behind the sanctions “is clear: the worse the situation of Russian citizens becomes, the better the situation of the Western world.”

He added, "We must all remember that and take revenge on them wherever possible. They are our enemies."

He called for "causing difficulties for the (Western) economy and fueling public dissatisfaction with the incompetent policies of the Western authorities."

Targeting a Russian factory

On the ground, a Ukrainian source said - today, Saturday - that Ukrainian drones attacked a large Russian steel manufacturing plant during the night, causing a huge fire to break out.

The governor of the Russian Lipetsk region stated that the production of the factory, located in the city of the same name, about 400 kilometers north of the Ukrainian border, represents about 18% of Russia’s steel production.

He added that a fire was extinguished in the factory operated by the Russian steel manufacturer NLMC, without causing any deaths or injuries.

The Ukrainian source told Reuters that the attack, which was a joint operation between military intelligence and the Ukrainian Security Service, caused a huge fire that led to the evacuation of workers.

The source added, "The raw materials from this facility are used in the manufacture of Russian missiles, artillery and drones, so they are a legitimate target for Ukraine."

Without specifying the factory location.

A video on social media, said to be from Lipetsk, showed an explosion resulting in orange flames that lit up the night sky.

NLMK reported on social media that the fire broke out at 1:40 a.m. local time (22:40 GMT yesterday, Friday).

The Lipetsk plant specializes in the production of flat steel, which represents 80 percent of NLMK's steel products.

Ukrainian drone attacks on the Russian army and industrial targets have increased over the past few months, notably targeting oil facilities that Kiev says are vital to the Russian war effort.

For its part, the Russian authorities said that they shot down Ukrainian drones over the regions of Lipetsk, Kursk and Tula during the night.

Source: Agencies