One Year of War against Ukraine

In front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, I meet a Russian tank that Ukrainians have destroyed during the war. I speak with people who have organized the protest. Thousands shout „Russia is a terrorist state“. The Brandenburg Gate shines in Ukrainian colors.

It’s February 24, 2023, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has now lasted a year. Thousands of people enter the streets for a peaceful protest. A central demonstration site is the Russian embassy in the street „Unter den Linden“. In the embassy itself, lights are off except for an artifical star flashing high up in the foyer behind dark windows. Outside the buildig, a Russian tank that was destroyed by Ukrainians during the war aims at the building.

The Russian tank destroyed by Urkainans now serves as a memorial aiming at the Russian embassy

I meet Manfred. His group is one of those who played a role in organizing the protest. Manfred’s group has no name. „I am against the war,“ he says straightforward. Earlier, with the help of the police, he had chased away some „AfD1 supporters or worse,“ he says. „They identified themselves as right-wing radicals, filmed and interviewed protestors to provoke trouble,“ he assumes. „But everything went peacefully.“

1AfD = Alternative for Germany (a far right wing populist party)

Manfred regularly demonstrates in front of the Russian embassy

Manfred is not alone. A few meters away, I bump into Annette. „We are about 15 people,“ she explains when asked about her and Manfred’s group. „But we are not an association or an organization. We found each other in common interest for the cause.“

Annette wears an eye-catching black T-shirt that has a text on it in which some letters are replaced by the Ukrainian flag

Annette and her group members had built their memorial in front of the Russian embassy half a year ago. „For today’s pupose, we have renewed it,“ she explains.

The memorial commemorates the children of Ukraine. According to Russia had killed 461 Ukrainian children, wounded 926, and deported 16,221 to Russia. 345 children were also missing. – The numbers rise.

Not far away, I meet a young woman who introduces herself as Jessika. She was born in Berlin, but her parents are from Ukraine, she says. „We come from the Kiev region, and the rest of my family still lives there. They hide in basements or have to fight on the front line.“

Jessika protests with her group „Спілка Україниців“. She says it means „Ukrainian Union“

Behind the Brandenburg Gate, where the Bundestag is located, exiled Russians also protest against the war and against the politics of their home country. A spokesman addresses clear words to Putin’s followers: „Don’t believe Russian propaganda.“

At this stand, exiled Russians show solidarity with Ukraine, organized by

In the following hours, the protest picks up speed. Dusk falls, and even more protester fill the street „Unter den Linden“. Several thousand people shout „Russia is a terrorist state!“ as they walk by the Russian embassy.

The protest march between Museum Island and Brandenburg Gate in front of the Russian embassy
Krista-Marija Läbe (left) rides on a protest wagon to the Brandenburg Gate. She belongs to the association Vitsche e.V., which had co-organized a performance at the Heinrich Böll Foundation the previous day. (Read my previous blog entry.)
The demonstration ends with a final speech at the Brandenburg Gate, which shines in Ukrainian colors