In a sea of blue and yellow flags and banners, Demonstrators from around the world on Saturday showed their support for the people of Ukraine and called on governments to do more to help Kiev, punish Russia and prevent a wider conflict.
Several hundred people marched in heavy rain in Sydney chanting “Ukraine will prevail”, while protesters in Tokyo called for Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations Security Council.
Thousands of people also took to the streets in Europe, including many Ukrainians living abroad, to participate in demonstrations in London, Nicosia, Berlin, Athens, Helsinki, Madrid and Milan in which “stop the war” flags and banners were seen.
“You look at the people gathered here and everyone is scared … We have had peace for 80 years and suddenly war comes back to Europe,” said Stefan Pischel, among a crowd of about 2,500 people in the square. Karlsplatz in Munich.
En Bern, the Swiss capital, a concentration was held that the organizers estimated at 20,000 people. The Ukrainian flag flew over the town hall.
Some called on the Swiss government to take tougher action against Russia and President Vladimir Putin, who said he ordered the “special military operation” to destroy Ukraine’s military capabilities and capture those whom the Kremlin considers dangerous nationalists, not to occupy territory.
In Istanbul, Ukrainians living in Turkey sang their national anthem and displayed banners with images of bloody handprints
“My family is in the Kiev region and today they are attacking Kiev. I don’t know what to do, what to think. I am calling them every 10 or 15 minutes,” said one protester who gave her name as Victoria.
“I hope everyone … will stand up and do something to protect our families.”
Hundreds of people demonstrated in the square in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, holding signs like “Make Ukraine a NATO member now” and “Say no to Putin”.
“I am here because I feel very ashamed of my country of birth,” said Valery Bragar, a Russian who has lived in Switzerland for 15 years and is now a Swiss citizen.
The protests follow other demonstrations around the world in recent daysyes In Latin America, protesters joined Friday rallies in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru, chanting “Viva Ukraine.”
In Russia, too, anti-war activists have defied warnings from authorities to vent their anger. Police arrested more than 1,600 Russian protesters on Thursday.
In Sydney, some speakers called on the government to extend sanctions against Moscow and ban Russian citizens from visiting Australia, while others called for NATO to intervene.
“I want more economic sanctions on Russia, I want military aid for Ukraine,” said Katarina, a protester who gave only her first name. “I want more action, more concrete actions and less words. Now it is too late for diplomacy.”
Several hundred Russian, Ukrainian and Japanese protesters gathered in the busy Shibuya shopping district in central Tokyo, many of them with their children and holding Ukrainian flags, chanting “Stop the war” and “Stop Putin” in Japanese and English.
“I just want to say: ‘Putin stop this, get your sanity back,’” said Hiroshi Sawada, a 58-year-old musician.
In India, some of the anger was directed at NATO and the West.