Across Canada and beyond: Thousands take to the streets in solidarity with Ukraine

‘The West is united, the West is relentless, we will cut the Russian economy off from our own’: Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland addresses Toronto march for Ukraine

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As tens of thousands of people across Europe marched in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Sunday, rallies were also being held closer to home.

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Protests against the assault were being planned at the Russian Embassy in downtown Ottawa, with similar events planned for Montreal, Toronto and other cities in Canada in which organizers are hoping for thousands of people to turn out.

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has Ukrainian roots, spoke at the rally in Toronto on Sunday. “I want all these oligarchs to understand, and the Russian people, that Russia has a choice. If Russia continues this barbaric war, the West is united, the West is relentless, we will cut the Russian economy off from our own.”

She went on to praise the brave leaders of Ukraine for taking a courageous stand. “They need weapons to fight that fight. I’m so proud that Canada sent lethal aide before this war started, and with our allies are going to continue supporting that Ukrainian war effort.”

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More than 100 people were on hand to raise the Ukrainian flag and march under a bright blue sky in Charlottetown on Sunday morning, including University of Prince Edward Island Adjunct Professor Jeffrey Collins.

“I was there with my spouse and child as a concerned citizen and in support of a Ukrainian friend of mine who asked on Facebook that friends show up for support to call for an end to the war and a restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty,” Collins said .

Earlier in the day, approximately 100,000 people turned out in Berlin to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

They were carrying signs reading: “Stop the War,” “Putin’s last war” and “We stand with Ukraine” along with Ukrainian and European Union flags.

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Demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, Germany, February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags during an anti-war protest at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, Germany, February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Train and underground service was interrupted in some parts of the German capital as thousands flooded toward the Brandenburg Gate, near the Russian embassy.

The protest came as missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities and thousands of Ukrainian civilians, mainly women and children, were fleeing from the Russian assault into neighboring countries.

“Ukrainians: You’re welcome here!” shouted one of the speakers in Berlin as the crowd cheered.

More than 368,000 refugees, mainly women and children, have fled the fighting into neighboring countries, the UN refugee agency said on Sunday, citing data provided by national authorities.

Around 80,000 protesters thronged Prague’s central square, with the Czech prime minister telling the crowd the country still remembered its own terror of Russian tanks rolling into the capital more than five decades ago.

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Protestors take part in a demonstration against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on February 27, 2022 at the Venceslas square in Prague, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP)
Protestors take part in a demonstration against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on February 27, 2022 at the Venceslas square in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP)

“Of course I had to come here today, because one must stand up to evil,” retiree Jindrich Synek told Reuters. “I have experienced it in this square a couple of times already.”

Wenceslas Square was home to demonstrations during the 1989 Velvet Revolution that ended decades of Soviet-backed communist rule, as well as protests in 1968 when Soviet-led troops invaded communist Czechoslovakia to end reforms that upset Moscow.

In central Madrid, thousands of protesters waved Ukrainian flags. They held signs reading “Peace,” “Stop Putin,” and “Putin, you should be scared: my grandmother is really angry.”

People march during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, February 27, 2022. Kuba Atys/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via Reuters
People march during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Warsaw, Poland, February 27, 2022. Kuba Atys/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via Reuters

“We want our country to be independent. We want to be in Europe. We want Putin to leave us alone, to leave our homes and not bomb our land, our parents and relatives in Ukraine,” said Vira Panas, 34, a Ukrainian woman living in Madrid.

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In Denmark, roughly 400 demonstrators gathered in front of the Ukrainian embassy in central Copenhagen where many participants lit candles and laid flowers to show their support for the Ukrainian people.

“My own city is being bombed with cruise missiles in the 21st century. That makes no sense,” said Artem, a 40-year-old software developer from Kyiv who lives in Denmark with his family.

“We need to show that people care and this is why we need as many people as possible. We can’t stop the missiles with demonstrations but we can show that we are all supporting the truth,” he added.

Similar protests took place in Rome, Lisbon, Warsaw and London.

People protest against Russia's massive military operation in Ukraine, at Trafalgar Square in London, Britain February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
People protest against Russia’s massive military operation in Ukraine, at Trafalgar Square in London, Britain February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

In Russia itself, people took to the streets to voice their opposition to war. Police detained more than 1,700 people at anti-war protests that occurred in 46 Russian cities on Sunday.

That raised the total detainees since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 to around 5,500, independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info said.

With additional reporting by The Canadian Press and Reuters

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