A year ago we woke up in a different Europe.
We turned on the news and clung to the TV screens, and could not believe our eyes.
First bombs fell in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities at dawn of February 24, men and women formed queues to take up arms and defend their cities from the Russian invaders, thousands of mothers fled the war with their kids to find shelter in the European Union.
Russia planned to "take Kyiv in three days", but did not break through to the capital, Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitschko told us in an interview.
But it was close.
"365 days of full-scale war. Kyiv residents were forced to spend in shelters, at subway stations, hiding sleepy children at night in the corridor or the bathroom," Klitschko said.
"We don't say "good morning" to our friends and relatives anymore".
"We will forever remember terrible moments when fragments of rockets hit Kyiv buildings, we will forever remember those who died and those who were taken out from under the burning rubble".
So many people lost their homes. But, fortunately, remained alive.
About 700 buildings and infrastructure facilities were damaged in the Ukrainian capital due to massive rocket fires and kamikaze drone attacks.
417 high-rise and 109 private residential buildings of peaceful Kyiv residents.
"This war was unleashed by Putin's regime in a desperate desire to create an "empire". In an effort to prevent the European path of Ukraine's development, our future together with the democratic civilized world," Klitschko said.
"But the aggressor did not take into account the main thing - the strength of spirit, courage and freedom-loving Ukrainians," he added.
"We persevered. And we have almost survived this winter. Thanks to the solidarity and daily work of every city resident, thanks to the support of our partners and friends, and the efforts of volunteers. And most importantly, thanks to our heroic Armed Forces, our defenders."
Kyiv's mayor underlined that today the capital receives buses, special equipment, and humanitarian aid from foreign partners.
Critical infrastructure enterprises, hospitals, more than a third of the total number of small boiler houses, water supply enterprises, and 140 pumping stations are equipped with generators in case of a power outage.
"We are grateful to our European friends for their support and assistance throughout this dramatic year of war. Without such support, it would be very difficult for us", Klitschko said.
"I would like to note that in total during this time we received 40 modern ambulances, 36 fire trucks and 72 city buses from various European cities. Also, the Ukrainian capital received several hundred generators of various capacities, solar batteries".
"During the war, Kyiv signed twinning agreements with more than 10 European cities. Many mayors of cities from different countries came to the capital of Ukraine to show their support for the struggle of the Ukrainian people for democratic values and independence."
One of these cities is Florence, whose mayor and PES Group member Dario Nardella is the European Committee of the Regions rapporteur on the "Role of EU cities and regions in rebuilding Ukraine".
Condivido con voi questo video che mi ha emozionato.— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) February 7, 2023
Con #GeneratorsofHope più di 300 generatori sono già stati mandati in Ucraina, portando elettricità salvavita a chi ne ha bisogno. E molti altri stanno per arrivare.
Sindaco @Vitaliy_Klychko, non siete soli. pic.twitter.com/AlxlK2UiNn
Onorato di assistere alla sessione straordinaria del @Europarl_IT con il Presidente @ZelenskyyUa. L'Ucraina è un paese europeo a tutti gli effetti. Con questo storico incontro acceleriamo il processo di pace e rafforzamento dell'Europa, non più spettatrice ma protagonista. pic.twitter.com/ME8pAWaIzs— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) February 9, 2023
"Together, with the help of the civilized world, with the support and help of the big European family, Ukraine will win! Because today we defend European, democratic values and rights. We protect Europe!", Klitschko underlined.
Photo provided by Kyiv City State Administration press service