BERLIN, (Reuters) – A demonstration against supplying Ukraine with weapons for war with Russia attracted 10,000 people on Saturday, drawing criticism from top German government officials and a large police presence to maintain order.
Organised by a prominent left-wing German politician, the protest comes a day after the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which drew promises of more weapons from western allies, fresh sanctions against Russia and shows of support for Kyiv across the globe.
“We call on the German chancellor to stop the escalation of arms deliveries. Now!…Because every day lost costs up to 1,000 more lives – and brings us closer to a 3rd world war,” the protest’s organizers said on their website.
The “Uprising for Peace” was organised in part by Sahra Wagenknecht, a member of Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party.
Germany, along with the United States, has been one of the biggest suppliers of weapons for Ukraine.
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“Negotiate, not escalate” one sign held by a demonstrator said, while a banner in the crowd read “Not our war”.
A police spokesperson said 10,000 people gathered around Germany’s symbolic Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin.
Police mobilised 1,400 officials to keep the peace and to enforce bans on military uniforms, Russian and Soviet flags, Russian military songs and right-wing symbols.
The police spokesperson said there was no sign of right-wing groups attending and that the protest, which German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said must be “clearly opposed”, was peaceful.
“Whoever does not stand by Ukraine is on the wrong side of history,” Lindner said on Twitter.