Thousands gathered in Brussels to protest Russian invasion of Ukraine

Thousands gathered in Brussels to protest Russian invasion of Ukraine
Credit: Dylan Carter/The Brussels Times

One year and one day after Russia launched its war in Ukraine, approximately 5,000 people took to the streets of Brussels to protest the invasion and show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

On Saturday afternoon, a large-scale demonstration took place in the Belgian capital against the war in Ukraine as part of a global week of action against the invasions.

In Brussels, thousands of people took part in the action, organised by Promote Ukraine, the Association of Ukrainian Women in Belgium and the Belgian committee of the European Solidarity Network with Ukraine (RESU).

"The invasion has already cost the lives of tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens," said Marta Barandiy, chair of Promote Ukraine.

"Every day, the Ukrainian people face brutality and violence. Millions of citizens have been forced to flee abroad, millions have been displaced. Entire towns and villages have been left in ruins by Russian bombing and airstrikes."

The demonstration opposed the war, demanded peace in Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of all Russian troops. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

On the eve of the protest, the Promote Ukraine founder said that the march was extremely important within the context of maintaining public support for Ukraine. Disturbing new figures showed that global apathy towards the war was growing in much of North America and Europe.

"It is becoming harder (to keep public support.) Sometimes I feel desperate... Everyone has to do the maximum that they can to win because it's a fight between good and evil. And evil also does its maximum," she said.

Roughly 5,000 activists from across Belgium joined the march in solidarity with Ukraine. Credit: Dylan Carter/The Brussels Times

The action, which saw people march from Avenue Albert II to Parc du Cinquantenaire, was supported by 200 active citizens and organisations, from grassroots organisations and people actively involved in solidarity with Ukraine to associations of Ukrainians in Belgium.

The protesters, walking behind a large banner reading "Ukraine wins - democracy wins," demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from all of Ukraine and an unconditional halt to the bombing of Ukraine.

Several girls and women wore distinctive flower wreaths in their hair. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

Some people walking in the crowd were dressed in traditional Ukrainian costumes and suits, while several women and young girls wore wreaths with distinctive flowers in their hair. Many others carried large Ukrainian flags and banners and boards reading "Putin, burn in hell" and "stop Putin, stop the war."

Iryna, originally from Vinnytsia, central Ukraine, said that she had come to the march to show support for the country and thank Belgium for taking her and her young children in.

Credit: Dylan Carter/The Brussels Times

"The most important thing is that Ukraine wins. What we want most is to return home, to a peaceful country under a peaceful sky and to live with our children, and to live our lives," she said.

At the end of the march, activists joined in the European quarter to listen to speeches from Ukrainian community leaders and to sing the national anthem of Ukraine.

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Activists from Promote Ukraine repeated demands for increased support from the West to defeat Russia, and also gave thanks for the response of the European community.

"We are here today to thank Belgium and Europe for offering massive support to displaced people from Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainian found safety in the homes of Europeans and it can't be underestimated," said Lyuba Karpachova, Refugee Support Lead at Promote Ukraine.

Credit: Dylan Carter/The Brussels Times

A large number of Iranians, who have been demonstrating against the Iranian regime in recent weeks and months, were also present with banners reading "Freedom for Iran, freedom for Ukraine, all together we will win." 

Members of the Chechen and Ingush community also joined the rally, calling for the independence of their Caucasian republics from Russia.

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