Citizens across Europe and the world have been shocked by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack, which began on February 24 and appeared to be entering a new phase with escalating bombardment.
About 41,600 people demonstrated in 119 protests in towns and cities across France, according to estimates by the Ministry of the Interior. In Paris itself, about 16,000 attended.
“Despite the suffering, we are going to win, we are sure of it,” said Nataliya, a Franco-Ukrainian woman with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped over her shoulders, during the protest in Paris.
She declined to give her full name due to concerns about her son’s safety in Ukraine. “We are proud of their courage, their determination,” she added.
“We will be here every weekend, in Paris or elsewhere, until Putin leaves and withdraws his tanks,” said Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a member of Stand With Ukraine, one of the organizers of the protest.
One of the largest rallies to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine on the 10th day of the invasion was in Zurich, where organizers say 40,000 people took part, the Swiss news agency ATS reported.
Protesters in the largest Swiss city called for “peace now”, while others carried placards reading “Stop the war” and “Peace”.
‘No to Putin, no to NATO’ †
In the center of Rome, trade unions and organizations gathered in a large “peace procession”, demonstrating against Putin but also against NATO.
“No base, no soldier, Italy outside NATO,” chanted pacifists, preceded by a large rainbow-colored flag.
“This is perhaps one of the first real demonstrations for peace,” Italian cartoonist, actor and writer Vauro Senesi told AFP.
“Here nobody believes that we make peace with weapons, that we make it by sending weapons to one of the parties (Ukraine).”
More than a thousand people also demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb with banners reading “Stop the war, save Europe” and “Glory to Ukraine”.
In the Balkans, the invasion has brought back dark memories of the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which left more than 100,000 people dead in a series of conflicts.
Last weekend there were also hundreds of thousands in yellow and blue across Europe, including in Russia, Germany, Spain, Finland and the Czech Republic.