Ukraine. Protests, donations and solidarity are growing across Europe | European | News and current affairs from across the continent | DW

As Russian troops continue to push into Ukraine, there are growing rallies of support and demonstrations of solidarity across Europe. The Kremlin’s brutal assault on its neighbor is outright condemned and across the continent they are trying to help with anything from donating money to organizing aid, free transport and accommodation for refugees.

Demonstrations across Europe

People all over Europe took to the streets to show their support for Ukraine against the military invasion of Moscow.

In Germany, around 7,000 people gathered in Frankfurt on Saturday under the slogan “Solidarity with Ukraine – peace in Eastern Europe”, around 5,000 demonstrators were in the streets of Munich while around 4,000 people parade in the city of Düsseldorf. In the German capital Berlin, at least 100,000 people demonstrated, with some estimates pointing to considerably higher crowd numbers.

In Estonia, Russia’s Baltic neighbor, thousands of people gathered in the capital Tallinn on Saturday for an anti-war demonstration. According to the police, as many as 30,000 people attended the demonstration and the concert that followed.

President Alan Karis told the crowd that the assault was “inconceivable, senseless and horrible” and he urged people to “open the souls and doors of Estonia to Ukrainian refugees”.

Demonstrations also took place in Switzerland where several thousand people came to condemn the Kremlin for its aggression. Protesters also pointed the finger at the federal government in Bern for not fully adhering to European Union sanctions against Russia. Switzerland is not part of the EU and is a popular destination for wealthy foreigners, including Russians, to keep their money.

London, Paris and Rome, as well as Brussels, Vienna, Madrid and Sofia were among many other European cities where people joined rallies calling on Russia to end the war. More than 10,000 people also demonstrated in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Saturday, just a day after Russia warned Finland not to consider joining NATO, threatening “serious military and political consequences”.

Protests in Russia

There have also been demonstrations in Russia, although none of them have been authorized by the authorities. More than 3,000 people have been arrested for taking part in protests since the war began on Thursday.

In an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, more than 300 doctors, nurses and paramedics condemned the attack. “War is a humanitarian catastrophe that brings pain and suffering,” the letter read. “We consider violent solutions to political conflicts to be inhumane and we ask you to cease fire and start negotiations.

Help for refugees

International humanitarian organizations have appealed for donations for the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Ukraine. Most cities in Germany have launched campaigns detailing how citizens can donate to aid organisations, with similar initiatives popping up in other European countries.

Russian authorities suppress protests against Kremlin’s war on Ukraine

Aid group Caritas International reported an influx of donations but warned that border regions between Ukraine and Poland are tense as hundreds of thousands of refugees leave the beleaguered country. Humanitarian organization SOS Children’s Villages also said hundreds of thousands of children were at risk and displaced in western Ukraine. The group has announced that it is preparing to welcome refugees to Germany and several German cities have already seen the first groups of refugees arrive this weekend.

There are also many private initiatives to help, such as people using social media to organize accommodation for people on the run or to collect aid that can be sent to where it is needed in Ukraine.

German public rail service Deutsche Bahn said refugees with Ukrainian passports can travel for free on all trains from Poland to Germany. Neighboring Austria also announced on Sunday that its national rail company ÖBB would offer free travel to those fleeing the conflict.

According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, at least 200,000 people have already fled Ukraine to neighboring countries and the number could reach 4 million.

Public pressure

There was also an outpouring of condemnation of the Russian attack on Moscow across Europe and the world. Russian-born writers, directors and artists have spoken out against the war, urging their fellow citizens to protest the aggression.

Those who have not spoken out are under increasing pressure. Munich Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Valery Gergiev is known as a friend of Putin and once supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. The city has now given him an ultimatum to let him speak out against the war, otherwise he would be removed from his post.

Orchestras in Hamburg, the Netherlands and the United States have also canceled scheduled concerts with Gergiev or called on him to publicly distance himself from Putin and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

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