Anti-War Protests Span the Globe as Putin Presses War on Ukraine

Nearly a week after Vladimir Putin first ordered forces into Ukraine, on Tuesday Russian rockets pounded Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. As Russia advances its offensive toward Kyiv, anti-war protests are breaking out across the globe, thousands standing in solidarity with Ukraine.

The movement of jailed Alexei Navalny, Russia's most prominent opponent of Vladimir Putin, is among those demanding to be heard.

The Navalny team on Monday called for a campaign of civil disobedience to protest Putin's invasion, Reuters reported.

"Putin declared war on Ukraine and is trying to make everyone think that Ukraine was attacked by Russia, that is, by all of us. But that's not right," the team wrote on Twitter.

"We must show that we do not support the war," the tweet continued. "We call on Russians to show civil disobedience. Do not be silent."

Moscow's invasion of its neighbor has ignited protests within Russia's border and around the globe. People all around the world are demanding an end to the bloodshed.

"We can see how the Russian language is the language of war," Irina Kuznetsova, an associate professor at the University of Birmingham and an emigrant of Russia, wrote for The New York Times. "Mr. Putin made it so."

"Russian has also become the language of a lie," she wrote. "Mr. Putin claims Russia is defending 'traditional values,' but that is false."

"What kind of values are being defended by traumatizing tens of thousands of Ukrainian children and families?" she asked.

Despite the arrests of countless protesters each day, Russians continue to take to the streets from Moscow to Siberia to protest Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Protests against the invasion started Thursday in Russia and have continued every day since. In addition to street protests in Russia, tens of thousands of people have endorsed open letters and signed petitions condemning the attack, Time magazine reported.

One such petition has quickly become one of the most widely supported petitions in Russia, surpassing 930,000 signatures in just four days, according to Time.

Russia's western neighbor, Belarus, is also the site of passionate protests.

Belarus on Sunday held a referendum to adopt a new constitution that would effectively reverse the country's non-nuclear status and potentially place Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, CNA reported.

Bunches of blue and yellow flowers could be seen scattered around different Belarusian cities, CNA reported. The referendum triggered anti-war protests across the country with people shouting "no to war" and blaring car horns in solidarity.

Elsewhere around the world, protests have been ongoing since the invasion began early Thursday morning.

More than 100,000 people gathered in central Berlin carrying signs that read, "Stop the war," "Putin's last war," and "We stand with Ukraine," Al Jazeera reported Monday.

Close to 80,000 people crowded Prague's central square, Al Jazeera reported, with the Czech prime minister speaking of the country's own unforgotten terror of Russian tanks threatening the capital nearly five decades ago.

Central Madrid saw thousands of protesters waving Ukrainian flags and signs that read, "Peace" and "Stop Putin," according to Al Jazeera.

Nearly 1,000 people draped in blue and yellow gathered outside the United Nations' European headquarters in Geneva, demanding a departure from Switzerland's prolonged neutral stance, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Upwards of 3,000 people gathered in Strasbourg, France, the seat of the Council of Europe human rights organization, The Times of Israel reported, calling for an end to the fighting.

Russia's neighbor, Finland, saw thousands of people gathered together, shouting "Russia out, down with Putin!" in the streets of Helsinki, according to The Times of Israel.

Nearly 3,000 people came together in Vienna bearing signs that read, "Stop the War," The Times of Israel reported, as Austria's Ukrainian community delivered impassioned speeches to the crowd.

Thousands of people on Friday took part in a torch-lit procession to the Colosseum, The Times of Israel reported, with Putin the main target of the march in Rome.

"Banners caricatured him as an assassin with bloodstained hands," The Times of Israel reported, "and compared him to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler with the words: 'Can you recognize when history repeats itself?'"

In another corner of the world, almost 30,000 people on Friday flooded to the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia, The Times of Israel reported, a country that resonates deeply with the terror felt in Ukraine.

In 2008, the ex-Soviet republic was the target of a devastating Russian invasion.

"We have sympathy for the Ukrainians, perhaps more than other countries," Niko Tvauri, a 32-year-old taxi driver, told AFP. "We've experienced Russia's barbaric aggression on our soil."

As the Russian invasion and anti-war protests simultaneously advance, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy continues to issue calls to international leaders for support and action.

On Tuesday he called on "all countries of the world to respond immediately and effectively to this criminal tactic of the aggressor and to declare that Russia is committing state terrorism," CNN reported.

"The rocket to the central square is outright, undisguised terror," Zelenskyy said. "No one will forgive. Nobody will forget. This strike on Kharkiv is a war crime."

Russian protester
A man holding a placard reading "No to war!" protests against Russia's invasion of Ukraine at Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square on February 24, 2022. There have been rallies across Russia and around the world against Vladimir Putin's military aggression. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty