People in Berlin take part in a protest against the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.
Demonstrators rallied in the capitals of Paris and Berlin 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 denounce the government’s arms supply to Ukraine and call for peace talks to end the war.
The organizers had been criticized prior to the protest for downplaying Ukraine’s right to defend its territory from Russian aggression and for failing to distance themselves from the far right and far left, where pro-Russian views are common.
One of the organizers, opposition lawmaker Sahra Wagenknecht of the former Communist Left Party, said there was no room for neo-Nazis at the rally, but anyone who wanted peace with a “sincere heart” was welcome.
While most of the signs at the protest reflected traditional left-wing positions, some participants carried signs with the slogan “Americans Go Home” and the slogan of a far-right magazine. Some waved Russian flags.
Wagenknecht accused the German government of seeking to “destroy Russia”, and said that an “offer” should be made to Moscow to resume peace talks.
Another organizer, prominent feminist writer Alice Schwarzer, said it was time to look beyond left and right.
The two women also launched a petition claiming to have collected more than 645,000 signatures.
Protesters jeered whenever she and Wagenknecht mentioned the name of German Foreign Minister Annalina Berbock, who strongly supported arms deliveries to Ukraine.
Police said about 13,000 people took part in the march at Berlin’s famous Brandenburg Gate, while organizers claimed that 50,000 people took part.
One of the attendees was Constantin Schneider, an academic from Berlin, who said he understood that countries in Eastern Europe feared Russia.
“naturally [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is a fool to attack Ukraine. But we still need to find new solutions [to the war] Instead of saying sweepingly 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 the Ukrainian national anthem on Saturday in Place de la Republique before Ukrainian children in traditional costume led a procession.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a recent television interview that he sees no prospect of peace talks at the moment.
We must understand that the Russian president currently accepts only one form of negotiations, that is [Ukraine] He surrenders unconditionally and achieves all his goals,” Schultz told public broadcaster ZDF.
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