Garmisch-Partenkirchen Mayor and the Marshall Center Commemorate Ukraine Invasion Anniversary
The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies and the Mayor of Garmisch-Partenkirchen co-hosted an event Feb. 24 to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
The event brought together over 200 guests, including U.S. Consul General Timothy Liston and Consul Oleksandr Prokopenko with Consulate General of Ukraine in Münich, as well as the former Federal Minister of Finance, Dr. Theo Waigel.
“Exactly one year ago today, on February 24, we all saw our world of togetherness and democracy in Europe, which we thought was so secure, come apart at the seams,” said Mayor Elisabeth Koch in her opening remarks. In 2022, she recalled, Feb. 24 fell on Nonsensical Thursday, a day for celebration in Germany, the first day in nearly two years that they had loosened COVID-19 restrictions.
“Absurdly, this is actually exactly the most appropriate adjective that best describes this sad day, this unspeakable beginning of war actions on Ukrainian soil,” she said.
The event was punctuated with colorful cultural music and dancing by local Ukrainians sharing their country’s traditions.
“How can anyone say that Ukraine has no history of its own, no culture of its own in what we have seen here,” said Marshall Center director retired Maj. Gen. Barre Seguin after one such musical demonstration.
In his speech, Waigel spoke of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Europe’s collective sigh of relief.
“What appeared to be a miracle of history for Germany and Europe in 1989, 1990 became the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century for Putin under the influence of his demagogic, nationalistic advisors,” Waigel said. “… after his attempts to regain Russia's old dominance failed diplomatically, Russia's economic development stagnated, and countries in the former Soviet Union's sphere of power turned to Europe and NATO, he resorted to the last resort of military intervention with the threat of nuclear power in the background.”
“Ukraine has difficult times ahead, with a portion of the country under Russian occupation,” said Seguin in his speech. “But we have seen for one full year the resilience of the Ukrainian people, the courage and bravery they’ve shown. Tonight is a moment of reflection…we pay respect to the fallen, to those who have given their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of defending Ukraine.”
Seguin’s speech was given in the wake of an unprecedented visit of a sitting U.S. president to an active warzone just days before. “Its symbolism cannot be overstated,” Seguin said.
“This was a risk that Joe Biden wanted to take,” added Seguin, “to stand next to President Zelenskyy and remind the world that Kyiv still stands free and that the United States will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine, for as long as it takes.”