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European Protests Call for End to Russian Invasion of Ukraine

todayFebruary 24, 2022 1

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LONDON — Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office at 10 Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, waving Ukrainian flags and demanding more stringent sanctions and broader action from Britain in response to Russia’s military action.

Chants of “Putin, hands off Ukraine” and “U.K. support Ukraine” echoed from the crowd outside the government building in the cool February air. Similar scenes played out in cities across Europe, where Ukrainian expatriates were grappling with the troubling news from their homeland.

“I’m shocked, probably like everyone, because my family is still in Ukraine,” said Mariya Tymchyshyn, 30, who took off work to join the protests in London. “We were panicked as well, we don’t know what to do. No one can be ready for this.”

Her family lives in the western part of Ukraine, away from the fiercest attacks, but she was worried for her grandparents, who had survived World War II in the country and had already faced intense fighting in their lives.

“It’s probably the hardest part for us, I was trying to calm down my grandmother, but she remembers being a child at that time and a bomb killed her mother,” Ms. Tymchyshyn said. “I want peace for all of us.”

At the London protests, many of those who gathered to denounce Russian aggression in Ukraine were visibly emotional as they waved banners and chanted.

Yulia Tomashckuk, 29, wore sunglasses to shield her tears as she held a Ukrainian flag. A neighboring town to her hometown was attacked on Thursday, she said.

“I just felt I was useless sitting at home watching the news, here at least I can show there are people who support Ukraine, who are against war and who want Putin to be shown his place,” she said, referring to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “He needs to be stopped now.”

Elsewhere in Europe, hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the Pariser Platz in Berlin on Thursday morning, directly in front of the American Embassy and the Brandenburg Gate. The mood was quiet and worried, with protesters wrapped in Ukrainian flags and holding handwritten signs with messages such as “Stop Russia Please,” “Putin = Hitler” and “Ukraine will Resist.”

In Madrid, a small group of protesters, some in tears, gathered outside the Russian Embassy to demand an end to the invasion. They waved Ukrainian flags and shouted “terrorists” and other slogans.

And hundreds of Ukrainian expatriates living in France protested in front of the massive, Soviet-style Russian Embassy in Paris on Thursday, with many chanting patriotic songs and slogans and some calling Mr. Putin a terrorist or a dictator.

“There’s so much emotion,” said Valeria Skubrii, a 25-year-old Ukrainian sommelier in Paris, as the crowd behind her burst into the Ukrainian national anthem.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Frankfurt, Raphael Minder from Madrid, and Constant Méheut from Paris.

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