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Warsaw protest calls for more aid to Ukraine

Outside the Russia embassy, people protesting the war in Ukraine hold a massive Ukrainian flag. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

Warsaw, POLAND – Today, on the occasion of the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine, thousands of people came out to protest in front of the Russian embassy in Warsaw.

Protesters called for an increase in the weapons supply for Ukraine’s army, the transfer of frozen Russian assets to Ukraine, and the creation of a tribunal for punishing war criminals.

Protesters outside the Russian embassy in Warsaw. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

The protest started at 4 p.m. Polish time in front of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Warsaw. Famous Polish activists and politicians delivered speeches, including Dominika Lasota, a climate activist, Andrzej Szeptycki, the Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Magdalena Rigamonti, a journalist and writer, and Magdalena Boczarska, an actress. 

Forgetting about the war, said Lasota, would be a serious step back. Instead, she said sending additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine would be two steps forward.

Boczarska acknowledged both Ukrainians and Poles were tired of the war, but said they could not be more tired than the Ukrainian soldiers who constantly fought with their lives for Ukrainians to have an opportunity to breathe freely today.

Signs at the protest depict Russian President Vladimir Putin as a terrorist and as the Joker. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

Another special guest speaker, former Warsaw Mayor Marcin Święcicki, pointed out the current tension in Polish-Ukrainian relations. Święcicki called for Polish farmers to stop undermining the Ukrainian economy and its agrarian sector with the protests at the border between the two countries.

After Święcicki`s speech, the crowd started marching to the Polish Sejm, a government building about 2.1 km (1.3 miles) away from the Russian embassy. This day, the roads all the way down were blocked in advance.

A group of new speakers arrived at the second spot, including Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Zvarych and Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, marshal of the Polish Senate of the Republic of Poland.

Members of the crowd carry signs and wrap themselves in the Ukrainian flag. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)
(Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

The crowd – which organizers said numbered 20,000 – took a moment of silence to honor the lives of all the victims of the war.

At 7 p.m., exactly three hours after it began, the protest finished with people singing Polish and Ukrainian national anthems.

Besides thousands of Polish and Ukrainian protesters, the crowd contained Belarussian opposition activists who showed their solidarity with Ukraine. 

The protest was organized by Euromaidan Warszawa, one of the biggest Ukrainian-Polish social initiatives, and its leader and co-founder Natalia Panchenko.

In the end, Panchenko thanked Poland and the rest of the world for their support for Ukraine. But she also reminded everyone that when a missile is aimed at your head, simple words of support or promises that the war would be over soon were not enough.

Kateryna Kvasha is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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