'Putin go home': Thousands unite in London against Russia's invasion

26 February 2022, 14:27 | Updated: 26 February 2022, 14:37

Julie joined thousands of protesters to support Ukraine
Julie joined thousands of protesters to support Ukraine. Picture: LBC

By Will Taylor

Thousands of people have protested the Russian invasion of Ukraine in central London.

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A mixture of Ukrainians and those who want to show solidarity with Kiev took to Downing Street to demand Vladimir Putin withdraws his forces.

With Russia advancing to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine confirmed 200 deaths and some 1,000 injuries in the fighting –-while UK intelligence thinks it is likely Russia has suffered heavy casualties, far worse than Moscow expected.

As people in the besieged nation pick up rifles and Molotov cocktails, the world showed its support, with blue and yellow flags emerging in large protests in capitals, and the colours getting projected onto national landmarks.

Read more: Russian casualties 'heavy' and worse than Putin feared as Ukraine fights back

In the Westminster demonstration on Saturday, LBC's reporter Charlotte Lynch spoke to Julie, whose mother has been sheltering in a Kyiv. bunker

"For me, it's very, very emotional," she said.

Thousands protest Russian invasion of Ukraine

"She was supposed to come on Thursday, I woke up to a message saying the war has started. It was the worst message of my life, it was the worst morning in my life.

"It's just very, very heartbreaking what is happening in my country and my city.

"She is in a Kyivan bunker and we were at 3am talking, I could hear the bombs... it's just a nightmare what they are going through... they couldn't believe he would just start a war like that."

"A lot of people from Russia have texted me to say they are on a mission to help you. They're not there to help us, they're destroying our cities, they are destroying our people, children are dying."

Read more: 'We won't lay down our guns': Ukraine vows to defend Kyiv as street fighting breaks out

Read more: Ukraine: Mum forced to give birth in metro bomb shelter as Russians besiege Kyiv

She added: "Every time she doesn't answer the phone my heart stops, literally my heart stops.

"I'm checking the news the whole time. My husband is like please stop and I just can't, I just need to know what's happening, every second things are changing."

Julie said she is very proud of the president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and warned Putin's ambitions will not stop with Ukraine.

Hundreds also gathered at the Russian embassy in Kensington, where they blocked a path outside, shouted "down with Putin" and compared the Russian leader to Hitler.

Ex-NATO commander condemns Putins authoritarian tactics

Others tried to draw the Ukrainian flag on the embassy's wall with chalk and flags were tied to the gate.

Across London, demonstrators waved placards and Ukrainian flags, shouting "Putin stop war" and "Putin go home".

Emotions ranged from upset to anger. Flowers were given out to protesters while others collected donations.

Protests have been held throughout the UK, including Manchester, and the world.

Ukraine's forces continue to mount a fierce fight against the invading Russian forces, and are trying to defend Kyiv, which Mr Zelenskyy has refused to flee.

Read more: Putin urges Ukraine military to overthrow 'neo-Nazi' leaders and negotiate with Russia

Read more: 'Our fate is being decided': Zelensky's chilling warning as Russian troops encircle Kyiv

Fighting is raging in a number of cities throughout the country, and social media is rife with footage showing civilians caught up in the fighting, including footage of missiles striking civilian housing.

The West has sanctioned Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, as well as banks and oligarchs.

They are now weighing up cutting off Russia from SWIFT, the international banking system.

On Saturday, the French Navy intercepted a commercial vessel in the Channel to ensure it was not in breach of sanctions.

Russia has already lost the Champions League final in May and September's Russian Grand Prix, which was due to be held in Sochi.

Priti Patel later cancelled the visa of the Belarus men's basketball team because of the country's support for Russia.