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UKRAINE

Solidarity demos across Europe demand end to Ukraine war

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday in cities from Paris to Zurich in support of Ukraine, demanding an end to Russia's invasion.

Crowds demonstrate against war in Ukraine in Paris
Demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags as they take part in a protest against Russia's military invasion of Ukraine at Place de la Republique in Paris on March 5th, 2022. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

Citizens across Europe and the world have been horrified by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack, which began on February 24th and appeared to be entering a new phase with escalating bombardment.

Around 41,600 people demonstrated in 119 protests in towns and cities across France, according to interior ministry estimates. In Paris itself, some 16,000 turned out.

“Despite the suffering, we are going to win, we are sure of it,” said Nataliya, a Franco-Ukrainian with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped over shoulders, at the Paris protest.

She declined to give her full name because of concerns about the safety of her son 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, withdraws his tanks,” said Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a member of Stand With Ukraine, one of the organisers of the protest.

One of the largest rallies to demand the withdrawal of Russia’s troops from Ukraine on the invasion’s 10th day was in Zurich, where organisers believed 40,000 people took part, Switzerland’s ATS news agency reported.

Demonstrators in the largest Swiss city called for “peace now”, while others carried signs saying: “Stop War” and “Peace”.

Demonstrators in Rome hold signs protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in Rome on March 5th, 2022. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

‘No to Putin, no to NATO’
In the centre of Rome, unions and organisations rallied in a large “procession of peace”, demonstrating against Putin but also NATO.

“No base, no soldier, Italy out of NATO,” chanted pacifists preceded by a large flag in the colours of the rainbow.

“This is perhaps one of the first real demonstrations for peace,” Italian cartoonist, actor and writer Vauro Senesi told AFP.

“Here no one believes we make peace with arms, that we make it by sending arms to one of the parties (Ukraine).”

More than a thousand people also demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb with banners saying: “Stop the War, Save Europe” and “Glory to Ukraine”.

In the Balkans, the invasion has revived dark memories of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which killed more than 100,000 people during a series of conflicts.

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands also turned out in yellow and blue across Europe including in Russia, Germany, Spain, Finland and the Czech Republic.

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Member comments

  1. EU needs a EU army not NATO an old school cold war era alliance, an army that will address the security concerns of the bloc inc neutral countries.

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POLITICS

Ukraine and allies lay foundations for reconstruction at Swiss conference

Allies of Ukraine meeting in Switzerland were due Tuesday to adopt a declaration spelling out the principles and priorities of rebuilding the war-shattered country, estimated to cost at least $750 billion.

Ukraine and allies lay foundations for reconstruction at Swiss conference

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organisations and businesses have been meeting in the southern Swiss city of Lugano under tight security since Monday, discussing the best path forward for reconstruction, even as Russia’s war continues to rage in Ukraine.

‘A beautiful country’: How Ukrainian refugees see Switzerland

Speaking on the first day of the Ukraine Recovery Conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a long line of government ministers described the massive destruction caused by Russia’s February 24 invasion.

“Reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local task of a single nation,” Zelensky said via video message. “It is a common task of the whole democratic world,” he said.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the recovery “is already estimated at $750 billion”. “The key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” he said.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it”.

READ MORE: Switzerland extends sanctions against Russia over Ukraine invasion

The conference, which had been planned before the invasion, had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine before being repurposed to focus on recovery.

Shmyhal laid out the government’s phased reconstruction plan, focused first on the immediate needs of those affected by the war, followed by the financing of thousands of longer-term reconstruction projects aimed at making Ukraine European, green and digital.

Those priorities are expected to be reflected in a final Lugano Declaration setting out the general principles defining a framework for rebuilding Ukraine, which should be adopted when the conference wraps up around midday Tuesday.

As billions of dollars in aid flow into Ukraine, lingering concerns about widespread corruption in the country mean far-reaching reforms will also be seen as a condition for any recovery plan decided.

The former Soviet state has long been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries by Transparency International.

In Europe, only Russia and Azerbaijan ranked worse.

The Ukrainians have proposed that allied countries “adopt” specific regions of Ukraine, and lead the recovery there to render it more efficient. Britain has proposed taking on the Kyiv region, while a diplomatic source said France would concentrate on the heavily-hit Chernihiv region.

Total Resistance: The Swiss Cold War manual inspiring Ukraine’s fight against Russia

In all, around 1,000 people are attending the conference, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who let out an enthusiastic “Slava Ukraini” (glory to Ukraine) after insisting on the importance of rebuilding a Ukraine better than before the war.

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