In a video message posted just after midnight Friday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that the guards defending the remote outpost were among the at least 137 civilians and military personnel who were killed in Thursday’s attacks.
Zelensky said the guards died “heroically” and “did not give up.” He also said they would be posthumously awarded Hero of Ukraine medals.
“May the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine live forever,” he said.
The Russian invasion began in the early morning hours Thursday with shelling and explosions striking deep into Ukraine. The violence expanded to regions previously untouched by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began when Russia took the Crimean peninsula by force in 2014.
The attacks have been condemned by the international community and even Russian citizens, who risked arrest to protest the military aggression.
Zelensky has vowed that Ukraine will defend itself as he ordered a full military mobilization to combat Russia’s actions, which he compared to those of the Soviet Union.
“But now the fate of the country depends entirely on our army, on our heroes, our security forces, all our defenders,” he said.