Thousands of people gathered today in London to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, as part of a demonstration led by several Ukrainian groups in Britain, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and others.
Greeting the crowd at the beginning of the march, Khan said that the people of Ukraine had experienced “unimaginable pain and suffering”. The crowd, already nearing a thousand people strong, then proceeded from London’s Park Lane through to Trafalgar Square.
Speaking to the crowd as they eventually amassed in Trafalgar Square, now in their thousands, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy led a chant of “stand with Ukraine”, and said that despite the cost of living crisis at home, the UK would “squeeze” Russia’s economy to stop Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
The strong turnout today comes after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began over four weeks ago, drawing condemnation from leaders and citizens across the world. The resulting war has seen mounting evidence of war crimes by the Russian government, including the confirmed deaths of over 1,000 civilians.
Hanya Dezyk, from the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said: “It has been incredibly difficult for Ukrainians living in the UK and across the world to see what is happening to our homeland, and the sight of people uniting in the streets in our name gives us hope and strengthens our resolve to fight for Ukraine’s freedom.”
Sadiq Khan told the PA news agency: “Londoners over the last few weeks have shown that we’re opening our arms to Ukrainian refugees, whether it’s by donating money to those charities doing a brilliant job in Ukraine or by opening our homes to those fleeing Ukraine.”
Although he said he would not be taking in a refugee family from Ukraine for “a variety of reasons not least protections, security reasons and lack of space”, he nonetheless fired veiled criticism at the response of Boris Johnson’s government to the humanitarian crisis.
“It is important throughout the next few days, weeks to make it far, far easier, and much more easier for those who are fleeing Ukraine to come here”, he said.
“You compare our Government’s actions versus the actions of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, it’s embarrassing.”
“We’ve got be doing much more.”