Outside UN office, diplomats pay tribute to Ukraine on invasion anniversary

By Cecile Mantovani

GENEVA (Reuters) - At a sombre ceremony outside the United Nations office in Geneva on Friday, ambassadors from countries allied with Ukraine observed a minute of silence and voiced their support for Kyiv as they marked the first anniversary of Russia's invasion.

The permanent representatives to the U.N. of countries like France, Canada and the United Kingdom embraced their Ukrainian counterpart Yevheniia Filipenko, wearing a vyshyvanka, a traditional embroidered shirt, under her jacket.

"It is important that Ukrainians know that the world remembers them, that the world will speak about the Russian's atrocities, Russian's war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine," Filipenko told reporters, as diplomats and members of the local Ukrainian community surrounded her.

With Ukrainian blue and yellow flags draped around their shoulders, some spectators held signs calling for the international community to punish Russia over the invasion.

One sign, held by three women, said: "Veto power in the hands of a terrorist," referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia's veto right as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Russia has denied committing atrocities in Ukraine.

At the United Nations Human Rights Council opening next week, Kyiv and its allies will seek to extend the mandate of a U.N investigation body set up to probe atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

"We want to see the commission of inquiry extended and we want to see accountability for the atrocities that have been committed day in, day out, in the streets and in the fields of Ukraine," said Simon Manley, the permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Jerome Bonnafont, France's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said the anniversary was also an opportunity to highlight the Ukrainian people's incredible resistance.

"We are here to commemorate a tragic day, the beginning of the invasions of Ukraine by Russia, but also, a day where a resistance that we all admire began," he said.

(Reporting by Cécile Mantovani and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Diane Craft)