On 24 February 2022, President of Russia Vladimir Putin gave order for a special military operation in Ukraine, effectively declaring war on the country.
London buildings light up to show solidarity with Ukraine
London landmarks have joined others around the world to light up in yellow and blue, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, to show their support for Ukraine's situation.
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The UK stands with Ukraine and its people as they courageously defend their freedom and their democracy.— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) February 24, 2022
Сполучене Королівство стає разом з Україною та її народом, який мужньо захищає свою свободу та демократію.
London protests and demonstrations for Ukraine
Over 1,000 people in front of 10 Downing Street. “When the last Ukrainian soldier falls Putin will come for YOU ladies and gents” says the banner. Video free to use. pic.twitter.com/YB9hiuj8zw— Svitlana Pyrkalo (@pyrkalo) February 24, 2022
Another protest took place outside Downing Street on the evening of Friday 25 February, with footage showing Whitehall packed with protesters.
Protesters in solidarity with Ukraine stretching all the way up Whitehall. Absolutely packed. pic.twitter.com/xIqghmmlpP— Adam Cherry (@_adamcherry_) February 25, 2022
A further protest is planned for Saturday 26 February at 12pm, also outside Downing Street. Organisers of these demonstrations are asking for tougher sanctions to be taken against Russia, such as banning energy trade with the country, and disconnecting Russia from Visa and Mastercard, as well as demanding military and medical support for Ukraine.
Activist group Led By Donkeys projected a two-minute video onto the exterior of London's Russian Embassy, featuring Ukrainian anti-corruption activist Daria Kaleniuk asking the United Kingdom to invoke stricter sanctions against Putin, and against Russian oligarchs in London.
To stop Putin start with his money. Solidarity with the people of Ukraine.— Led By Donkeys (@ByDonkeys) February 24, 2022
(Location: Russian Embassy, London)pic.twitter.com/iOG8cJviem
Speaking up against Russia
Elsewhere, individuals and organisations are showing their support for Ukraine by turning their backs on Russia. UEFA has relocated the Champions League Final match in May from Russia to France, while F1 driver Sebastian Vettel pulled out of the Russian Grand Prix, and no Russian contestant will be allowed to take part in this year's Eurovision. Manchester United dropped Russian airline Aeroflot as its sponsor, and the airline was banned from landing in Britain; Russia retaliated by banning all British airlines from its airspace and airports.
Many Russian people do not support the action Russia is taking; thousands took to the streets of cities in the country on Thursday night to protest against the war, a brave act in a country where they risk arrest and sanctions for doing so.
Here in London, Russian cultural centre Pushkin House was quick to condemn the action of the Russian military and offer support for Ukraine.
We at Pushkin House stand in solidarity with Ukraine and condemn the Russian invasion and military aggression that is already affecting millions of innocent people today. Support Ukraine by joining an anti-war protest at Downing Street from 12pm today. @Ukr_Institute pic.twitter.com/fXDOCUmOA4— PUSHKIN HOUSE (@Pushkin_House) February 24, 2022
A further statement on its website reads "Pushkin House is an independent cultural organisation and as such we condemn all forms of military aggression". It is holding an event on Friday night, both in-person and online, to offer insights into the current situation and what's likely to happen next.
How to help
We've seen what happens when the world does not do enough. We will be working closely with our partners along migration routes and in neighbouring countries to fully understand the context and what we can all do to support. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. (4/5)— Choose Love (@chooselove) February 24, 2022
Many charities and organisations will no doubt be offering support as needed in the coming days and weeks:
- The British Red Cross has already launched a Ukraine Crisis Appeal
- Care International UK has a Ukraine Emergency Appeal
- British-Ukrainian Aid is a long-established organisation, helping people suffering due to the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine (despite this recent development, parts of Ukraine have been living under conflict for more than eight years).
- If you have clothes, sleeping bags, sanitary products or other items to donate to refugees, they're being collected at the White Eagle Club in Balham until Monday morning, when they'll be taken to the Poland-Ukraine border to help anyone leaving Ukraine via Poland. Details here.
Do make sure that any financial donations you make are going to legitimate charities and organisations, as there have already been examples of people trying to take advantage of the situation for their own gain.
We recommend following @UkrainianLondon, a website and social media platform usually dedicated to forming a community for Ukrainians in London and the UK, but which has quickly flipped to focusing on raising awareness and offering support for anyone affected by the current situation.
The Ukrainian Embassy in London is another source of information on the current situation.
Kyiv or Kiev?
One last thing: Though these things may seem insignificant in the face of everything else that's going on, the language used to discuss the situation is a key way to show support for Ukrainians; refer to the capital city as 'Kyiv' not 'Kiev' (the latter is the Russian name for it); refer to the country as 'Ukraine' not 'The Ukraine' (the latter suggests the country is still an annexe of Russia, rather than a country in its own right).