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UKRAINE

Solidarity demos across Europe demand end to Ukraine war

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday in cities from Paris to Zurich in support of Ukraine, demanding an end to Russia's invasion.

Crowds demonstrate against war in Ukraine in Paris
Demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags as they take part in a protest against Russia's military invasion of Ukraine at Place de la Republique in Paris on March 5th, 2022. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

Citizens across Europe and the world have been horrified by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack, which began on February 24th and appeared to be entering a new phase with escalating bombardment.

Around 41,600 people demonstrated in 119 protests in towns and cities across France, according to interior ministry estimates. In Paris itself, some 16,000 turned out.

“Despite the suffering, we are going to win, we are sure of it,” said Nataliya, a Franco-Ukrainian with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag draped over shoulders, at the Paris protest.

She declined to give her full name because of concerns about the safety of her son in Ukraine. “We are proud of their courage, their determination,” she added.

“We will be here every weekend, in Paris or elsewhere, until Putin leaves, withdraws his tanks,” said Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a member of Stand With Ukraine, one of the organisers of the protest.

One of the largest rallies to demand the withdrawal of Russia’s troops from Ukraine on the invasion’s 10th day was in Zurich, where organisers believed 40,000 people took part, Switzerland’s ATS news agency reported.

Demonstrators in the largest Swiss city called for “peace now”, while others carried signs saying: “Stop War” and “Peace”.

Demonstrators in Rome hold signs protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in Rome on March 5th, 2022. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

‘No to Putin, no to NATO’
In the centre of Rome, unions and organisations rallied in a large “procession of peace”, demonstrating against Putin but also NATO.

“No base, no soldier, Italy out of NATO,” chanted pacifists preceded by a large flag in the colours of the rainbow.

“This is perhaps one of the first real demonstrations for peace,” Italian cartoonist, actor and writer Vauro Senesi told AFP.

“Here no one believes we make peace with arms, that we make it by sending arms to one of the parties (Ukraine).”

More than a thousand people also demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb with banners saying: “Stop the War, Save Europe” and “Glory to Ukraine”.

In the Balkans, the invasion has revived dark memories of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, which killed more than 100,000 people during a series of conflicts.

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands also turned out in yellow and blue across Europe including in Russia, Germany, Spain, Finland and the Czech Republic.

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Member comments

  1. EU needs a EU army not NATO an old school cold war era alliance, an army that will address the security concerns of the bloc inc neutral countries.

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ENERGY

Italian energy company to start paying for Russian gas in rubles

Italian energy company Eni confirmed it is opening accounts in rubles with Gazprombank to pay for gas supplies, complying with Moscow's demands.

Italian energy company to start paying for Russian gas in rubles

Eni said in a statement on Tuesday it was opening accounts in rubles and euros with Gazprom Bank “on a precautionary basis” as “deadlines for the payment of gas supplies are scheduled for the next few days”.

It was not immediately clear whether the move would fall foul of European Union sanctions, although Eni said it was “not incompatible”.

The company said its decision to open the accounts was “taken in compliance with the current international sanctions framework” and that Italian authorities had been informed.

READ ALSO: Italy will ‘soon’ stop buying gas from Russia, says minister

Vladimir Putin demanded at the end of March that payment be made in rubles or the gas supply to European countries would be cut off, as he hit back at sanctions placed on Russia by EU countries following its invasion of Ukraine.
 
Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi said at the time that his company would not comply with the demands, saying “Eni doesn’t have rubles” and “the contracts say fuel payments should be made in euros”.
 
But many European companies and their lawyers have since been looking at ways to meet the demand without breaching sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for the war in Ukraine, reports Bloomberg.
 
EU officials had said opening a ruble account would breach sanctions. But its latest guidelines, to be published this week, are expected to stop short of banning bank accounts in rubles and  therefore allow companies to keep buying Russian gas, Bloomberg reports.
 
 
Like other European countries, Italy says it is working to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy imports in the wake of the Ukraine war.
 

But the Italian government has so far resisted calls to boycott Russian oil and gas.

Italy is highly dependent on Russian gas, importing 95 percent of the gas it consumes, of which around 40 percent comes from Russia.

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