Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday across European cities in support of Ukraine and demanding an end to Russia’s invasion.
Citizens worldwide have been horrified by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack, which began on February 24 and appeared to be entering a new phase with escalating bombardment.
Around 41,600 people demonstrated in 119 protests in towns and cities across France, according to interior ministry estimates. In Paris itself, some 16,000 turned out.
“We will be here every weekend, in Paris or elsewhere, until Putin leaves, withdraws his tanks,” said Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a member of Stand With Ukraine, one of the groups which organised the protest.
“Despite the suffering, we will win,” said Nataliya, a French-Ukrainian woman who did not wish to give her surname to protect her son who is in Ukraine.
One of the largest rallies to demand the withdrawal of Russia’s troops from Ukraine on the invasion’s 10th day was in Zurich where organisers believed 40,000 people took part, Switzerland’s ATS news agency reported.
Demonstrators in the largest Swiss city called for “peace now”, while others carried signs saying: “Stop War” and “Peace”.
Hundreds also turned out in London including Ukrainians whose families were forced to flee Russian bombs.
“We need to keep on reminding everyone, we need to stay united to support our country,” said Olena Marcyniuk, 36, at a protest in central London’s Trafalgar Square with her children aged 14 months and nine years.
“Maybe somehow (we can) get through to Russia as well that the world is for Ukraine and that it needs to start acting to stop the war.”
She said much of her family had fled but that her uncle stayed in Kyiv to “fight for the city”.
‘No to Putin, no to NATO’In the centre of Rome, unions and organisations rallied in a large “procession of peace”, demonstrating against Putin but also NATO.
“No base, no soldier, Italy out of NATO,” chanted pacifists preceded by a large flag in the colours of the rainbow.
“This is perhaps one of the first real demonstrations for peace,” Italian cartoonist, actor and writer Vauro Senesi told AFP.
“Here no one believes we make peace with arms, that we make it by sending arms to one of the parties (Ukraine).”
More than a thousand people also demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb with banners saying: “Stop the War, Save Europe” and “Glory to Ukraine”.
In the Balkans, the invasion has revived dark memories of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which killed over 100,000 people during a series of conflicts.
Last weekend, hundreds of thousands also turned out in yellow and blue across Europe including in Russia, Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic.
© Studio graphique France Médias Monde