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Russia’s massive military invasion of Ukraine has Europe witnessing its first major war in decades. While world leaders respond to the conflict, announcing sanctions, closing airspace, cutting Russia out of global financial systems, and supplying Ukraine with arms and aid, everyday people, from Tokyo to Sydney to Buenos Aires, are showing up in massive numbers to protest the invasion.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – 2022/02/27: Protesters hold placards during the demonstration against Russian aggression in Istanbul. On the fourth day of the attack of Russian military troops on Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens and anti-war demonstrators gathered on Beyazit Square in Istanbul to protest against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Hakan Akgun/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Cities across the globe are hosting rallies, protests and vigils in support of Ukraine and against war. Many in attendance have personal ties to either Ukraine or Russia; still more want to show their support for those displaced and put pressure on political leaders to act.
In Berlin on Sunday, around 100,000 protesters marched through the city, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Russian Embassy and the Soviet War memorial. “In Berlin specifically, the Ukrainian and Russian community are very strong and for many—like myself—this is very personal,” said Georgiy Syunyaev, a research fellow at WBZ Berlin. “And I think for Germans that I saw today, it was quite important to see that the Russian community is strongly represented and does not support what Putin is doing.”
Demonstrators hold placards amongst others holding Ukrainian flags, during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, Germany, February 27, 2022. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters.
For some Germans at the protest, the images coming out of Ukraine, of people sheltering in subway stations and of bombed houses, is a reminder of World War II—a traumatic memory, because of the guilt and pain many Germans associate with it, said Syunyaev, who was at the protest.
For some, the invasion hits particularly close to home.
Flo Farghy, 31, is originally from Poland, and was at the protest in London on Sunday. “Ukraine is our neighbor and obviously we’re very close culturally,” she said. “I think today it’s Ukraine, but tomorrow it could be Poland, so we should be helping as much as we can.”
People take part in a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Wroclaw, Poland, on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Krzysztof Zatycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People gather to protest against Russia’s massive military operation against Ukraine, in Krakow, Poland February 24, 2022. Jakub Wlodek/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators showed up in Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic—some of whom likely experienced a Russian invasion firsthand. In 1968, Soviet-led armies invaded Czechoslovakia. The troops stayed in there for over two decades, with the last leaving in June 1991.
People hold Ukrainian flag as they demonstrate for peace in Ukraine on February 27, 2022 on the Venceslas square, in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by MICHAL CIZEK/AFP via Getty Images.
In Tokyo this weekend, hundreds of protesters marched through the city’s Shinjuku district, calling for Russia to be removed from the U.N. Security Council. Protesters in Sydney marched through the rain on Saturday draped in Ukrainian flags. In Istanbul, demonstrators held signs covered in bloody handprints. Rallies and vigils took place across the city of Chicago this weekend, with the Archdiocese holding special services and Mayor Lori Lightfoot attending a protest Sunday. In Washington, D.C., crowds gathered in front of the Russian embassy and the White House.
Members of the Australian-Ukrainian community attend a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Sydney on February 26, 2022. Photo by STEVEN SAPHORE/AFP via Getty Images.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – 2022/02/26: A woman in a traditional Ukrainian attire holds a sign saying “Putin” during an anti-war protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine at Beyazit square close to Istanbul University in Istanbul, Turkey. On the third day of the conflict, hundreds gathered to protest against the war. Photo by Nicholas Muller/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.
Betty Banks, a research fellow at the European University Institute, was at protests in Florence, Italy on Saturday and Sunday. “The scale of the invasion and the escalation is so much bigger than anything we have seen. It’s terrifying, and it’s a massive tragedy. And because people in Russia are protesting and getting arrested, I feel like we should show up.”
Molly started at PBS NewsHour weekend as a digital reporting intern. She has worked as a production assistant and associate producer, and is now a weekend Digital Editor/Producer. Trained as a science journalist, she has worked on a variety of beats and topics, covering climate change, international politics, midterm and presidential elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and more.
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