Protesters flocked to squares and to the doors of Russian embassies in cities like Tokyo, Tel Aviv and New York on Thursday to denounce the invasion of Ukraine, while more than 1,000 people who tried to do the same in Russia were arrested.
The first known protest took place in front of the Russian embassy in Washington at around 1:00 a.m. local time this Thursday, just three hours after the president Vladimir Putin said that a military operation had begun.
Local news reports showed dozens of protesters in the US capital waving Ukrainian flags and chanting “Stop Russian aggression!”
In London, hundreds of protesters, many of them Ukrainians and some in tears, gathered outside Downing Streethome of the prime minister, urging Britain to do more.
“We need help, we need someone to support us,” said one of them. “Ukraine is too small and the pressure is too great.”
In Paris, a protester told Reuters: “I feel that we are in a very dangerous moment for the whole world.”
In Madrid, the Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, nominated for another Oscar this year, joined a hundred protesters outside the Russian embassy. “It is an invasion … It violates Ukraine’s fundamental right to territorial sovereignty, international law and many other things,” Bardem said.
A giant flag was carried across times square in Manhattan by a crowd of several hundred protesters.
In Bern, the Swiss capital, hundreds of people gathered with Ukrainian flags and chanting “Peace for Ukraine!”.
A small demonstration in Geneva, organized by the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), awarded the Nobel Peace Prizebefore the European headquarters of the UN, condemned what, according to the group, was Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons.
There were other demonstrations in Beirut, Tel Aviv, Dublin and Prague.
More protests were scheduled in the US cities of Houston and Denver throughout the day, according to social media posts.
In Russia itself, protesters defied an official warning that explicitly threatened criminal prosecution and even jail time for those who called or participated in the protests.
Hundreds of people demonstrated in cities including Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, chanting slogans such as “No to war!” and holding makeshift signs.
As of 19:39 GMT, police had detained no fewer than 1,667 people in 53 cities, according to rights monitor OVD-Info. In Moscow alone, 600 people were arrested, the Tass news agency reported.