- Protesters in Berlin on Saturday demanded peace for Ukraine, a day after activists marked one year since the Russian invasion.
BERLIN: Police said about 10,000 people braved the falling snow in central Berlin to call for negotiations with Moscow rather than weapons deliveries to Ukraine.
Under the slogan “Rise up for Peace”, demonstrators bundled up against the cold and gathered at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, where a day earlier activists had parked a bombed-out Russian tank in front of Russia’s embassy.
Organised by far-left politician Sahra Wagenknecht and feminist Alice Schwarzer, who both addressed the crowd, the demonstration is controversial for drawing support from far-right politicians too.
The two women have also launched a petition which claims to have gathered more than 645,000 signatures.
There were also protests in Paris, where several hundred people sang Ukraine’s national anthem at Place de la Republique before Ukrainian children dressed in traditional costume led a procession.
On Friday, thousands of protesters across Europe marched against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Many gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, some holding up blue and yellow umbrellas under the rain.
The bombed-out Russian tank was stationed in front of Russia’s embassy off the Brandenburg Gate by Enno Lenza and Wieland Giebel, who operate a private German museum.
“We want to put their scrap metal in front of the gates of the terrorists,” said Giebel, who for months was caught in a bureaucratic tangle with Berlin authorities over the tank installation.
At an event led by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky beamed in a message thanking Western allies for their support for his country. Steinmeier underlined that Kyiv could count on Berlin.
Around 18,000 people held hands, forming a chain for peace between the western German cities of Osnabrueck and Muenster.
On Friday Germany said it would supply four extra Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, assembling with Portugal and Sweden a full battalion to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion.
The German army would send a total of 18 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine, the defence ministry said.
Following Stockholm’s announcement, Germany said it was “now able to provide a mixed Ukrainian battalion together with our Swedish and Portuguese partners”. A Ukrainian tank battalion numbers 31 units.
After weeks of mounting pressure, Berlin in January agreed to send its own tanks to Ukraine and to approve the re-export of German-made Leopards to Ukraine.
- News Agencies