About 200 people, mostly foreigners from Ukraine, gathered in London on Saturday to show solidarity with friends and family in the country where they live. the threat of a Russian invasion.
The protest was convened at the foot of a statue of Volodymyr the Great, who ruled an area including present-day Ukraine in the 10th and 11th centuries and is a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism. Under cloudy skies, protesters waved Ukrainian flags, sang nationalist songs and held up signs banning Russian President Putin.
Many of those in attendance said they were clinging to hope that a full-blown invasion of Russia could be averted but all signs point to their homeland being on the brink of a test. terrible.
One of the protest organizers, Natalia Ravyluk, originally from Ukraine, said: “The country that I know and love could be destroyed. “We’re frustrated and we’re scared.”
She said she feared that recent US-led efforts to thwart a Russian attack through diplomacy would not be enough.
“We have been gathering like this every year since 2014, hopefully we can help people remember the plight of Ukraine,” Ms. Ravyluk said, referring to the year. Russia annexed Crimea. “It seems too late now.”
Rising tensions were evident in the worried faces in the crowd, a mixture of recent immigrants and Ukrainian Londoners.
Some carried banners with Mr. Putin described as “Terrorist Number 1” or with messages such as “Russia, quit Ukraine.” Others wore Ukrainian flags slung over their shoulders. One group placed a pitted helmet and gas mask at the foot of a statue of Volodymyr the Great, forming a tabernacle. A few shed tears.
Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, was also present. “Many people here believe that Putin can be close to finishing what he started a few years ago,” he said.
While much of the protesters’ anger was directed at Mr Putin, some said they felt torn – relieved to be living in peace in London while also wanting to join their compatriots. them in this perilous time.
Diana Vartanova, one of the protesters, said: “We are frequently plagued by this inner conflict – wanting to trade our own safety for the safety of our family back home, ” said Diana Vartanova, one of the protesters.
Ms. Vartanova, 26, moved to London 10 years ago, from the eastern region of Zaporizhzhia. Over the past few weeks, she said, she has fluctuated “somewhere between feeling optimistic and completely panicking.” After the British government released maps this week identifying possible routes for a Russian invasion, her family is, in fact, close to the front lines.
“After years of uncertainty, it seems war is really knocking on our door,” she said.
At the end of Saturday’s ceremony, a group of men dressed in dark clothing posed for pictures in front of the statue of Volodymyr. Some said they had served in the army in Ukraine and had trained twice a month at a camp outside London.
“You could say I have been waiting for this moment,” said one of the men, Roman Azarov, a former army officer who left Ukraine 20 years ago. Mr. Azarov shared photos of himself taking part in military training, which he said he was ready to put to use. He said he was in touch with many of his former military friends back home and that they were preparing to defend their country should a Russian invasion happen.
“As soon as I got the word,” he said. “I will go.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/20/world/europe/ukraine-expats-rally.html Ukrainian foreigners show solidarity with the Motherland