Thousands gather in Berlin, Paris to call for peace in Ukraine | War news Russia-Ukraine

People in Berlin take part in a protest against the supply of arms to Ukraine.

Protesters in the capitals of Paris and Berlin have gathered to demand peace in Ukraine, a day after the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

Thousands of people protested in the German capital on Saturday to condemn the government’s supply of weapons to Ukraine and to call for peace talks to end the war.

Before the protest, the organizers were criticized for downplaying Ukraine’s right to defend its territory against Russian aggression and failing to distance themselves from the far right and far left, where pro-Russian views are common.

One of the organisers, opposition legislator Sahra Wagenknecht of the ex-Communist Left Party, said there was no place for neo-Nazis at the rally, but anyone who wanted peace was welcome “with an honest heart”.

While most of the signs at the protest reflected traditional leftist views, some participants carried banners with the slogan “Americans go home” and the logo of a far-right magazine. Some waved Russian flags.

Wagenknecht accused the German government of “ruining Russia” and said an “offer” should be made to Moscow to resume peace talks.

Another organizer, prominent feminist author Alice Schwarzer, said it was time to look beyond left and right.

The two women have also launched a petition that claims to have gathered more than 645,000 signatures.

A woman takes part in a protest against the supply of arms to Ukraine and in support of peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Berlin, Germany [Christian Mang/Reuters]

Protesters booed when she and Wagenknecht mentioned the name of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who has strongly supported the supply of arms to Ukraine.

Police said about 13,000 people took part in the rally at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, while organizers claimed 50,000 people took part.

One of the attendees was Konstantin Schneider, an academic from Berlin, who said he understood that countries in Eastern Europe were afraid of Russia.

“Naturally [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is an idiot for attacking Ukraine,” he said. “But we still need to find new solutions [to the war] instead of saying outright that there is nothing to negotiate.”

There were several small counter-demonstrations. On Friday, thousands of protesters across Europe marched against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In Paris, several hundred people sang Ukraine’s national anthem on Place de la Republique on Saturday before Ukrainian children dressed in traditional costumes led a procession.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a recent television interview that he currently sees no prospect of peace talks.

“We have to understand that the Russian president currently accepts only one form of negotiation, and that is that [Ukraine] capitulates unconditionally and he achieves all his goals,” Scholz told public broadcaster ZDF.

People take part in a protest against the supply of arms to Ukraine in Berlin, Germany [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

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