Ukrainians protest at Downing Street gates over Russian invasion

Hundreds of Ukrainians, many clad in their national colours of yellow and blue, have gathered outside the gates of Downing Street to protest against Russia’s invasion of their country.

But while shock, anger and defiance were among the common sentiments, events in the early hours of Thursday morning had also heralded difficult personal dilemmas for many such as Aleksandra Legosteva, a tech worker, and her mother, Olena, who had come to visit on Saturday.

“I don’t want her to go back,” said Legosteva, who told of a largely sleepless night as the family monitored Russia’s invasion and worried about relatives in northern Ukraine who were now stockpiling food and other supplies.

Like others, she was eager for the UK government step up and imposed “sweeping sanctions” on Russia while calls for military assistance and British military boots on the grounds was a common refrain among the crowd outside Downing Street.

Yuriy Yurchuk, 35, a principal singer at the Royal Opera House, said he had been due to perform at Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre in two weeks time but that would now not happen.

“There’s still a place for talking but there should be a comprehensive response to what is happening in Ukraine, including a military one and also international condemnation. Otherwise what is the UN for?” added Yurchuk.

Ukrainian flags, large and small, were meanwhile scattered throughout the crowd, along with homemade placards variously condemning Vladimir Putin as a war criminal or drawing a link between his regime and that of the Soviet Union.

The bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, the Right Rev Kenneth Nowakowski, was among those who had gathered.

“I don’t want to criticise the British government because we’re grateful for what they’ve done so far but there is so much more that can and should be done now,” he said.

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“It’s also worth remembering that this is a war that has been going on for eight years now. The rest of…

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