WASHINGTON, D.C. - Saturday will mark two years of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian people have pushed back Vladimir Putin's attempts to take over the whole country. But the fight continues. We spoke with officials at the State Department ahead of the second anniversary and the President’s additional sanctions on Russia.  

February 24, 2022, Ukraine sounded the alarm. Warning people Russia has invaded their country. Thousands of families fled into neighboring countries and volunteers answered the calls to fight. When we visited Ukraine in November about 9 months into the war, we saw people dealing with the reality of war. Many were unable to return home, their daily lives changed, they had to endure power outages and braced for the next wave of missile attacks.   

“Two years ago many observers thought Russia would roll through Kyiv, decapitate Ukraine’s leadership and weaken and divide the West and NATO,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Nathan Tek. Tek said in the two years, Ukraine has stood up against Russia.  

“We’ve seen President Zelenskyy lead his people, we’ve seen the Ukrainians bravely push back a brutal and unrelenting campaign against Ukraine,” said Tek. “Ukraine has now taken back about 50 percent of the territory that Russia initially seized in that invasion.” 

Ahead of the second anniversary of the war, the Biden administration rolled out additional sanctions against Russia. The State Department says the sanctions target people who were involved in Alexei Navalny’s death while in prison. Navalny was Vladimir Putin’s top political opponent. The sanctions also target people who help with Russia's state sponsored kidnapping of Ukrainian children.  

“Thirdly these sanctions are targeted individuals who are engaged in bypassing existing sanctions already in place on Russia to ensure we are fully enforcing the measure we’ve placed in the past two years to put a stop to the flow of arms and cash to Putin’s war machine,” added Tek.  

But these sanctions aren’t enough. The State Department hopes congress can pass the national security supplemental bill. It would provide money to help Ukraine and other allies. As the two-year anniversary of the war approaches, Tek said Ukraine needs all the help they can get.  

“As we saw for example in Avdiivka, they lost this town and it wasn’t because the Ukrainians weren’t resilient enough or brave enough or strong enough, it's because they didn’t have the tools they needed from their partners and allies,” said Tek. “Europe has already stepped up and provided over 100-billion dollars to the Ukrainians. We also need to step up and do our part. That’s what’s critical. Ukrainians right now are making tough choices on the battlefield. They're rationing munitions, they’re working by the skin of their teeth to help defend their land and we have to do our part and stand by our friends and partners.”