Anti-Russian demonstrations have broken out in the United States and across Europe on Thursday as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine with the perceived goal of taking over the capital of Kyiv.
Demonstrators converged in Times Square in New York City on Thursday in support fo Ukraine, as organizers planned to lead a march to the Russian Mission, and then up to the Russian Consulate.
There were also crowds of demonstrators, including Ukrainians, gathered in support of Ukraine on Thursday outside 10 Downing Street, the office home of the prime minister in central London.
The Russian coat of arms outside the Russian embassy in Dublin, Ireland, was covered in red paint Thursday following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Crowds also gathered for a “Stand with Ukraine” public demonstration outside the Russian Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated in a video address that he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier and promised sanctions against Russia. He also acted to freeze assets for all major Russian banks amid what he described as “an attack on democracy and the free world.”
Pro-Ukrainian protests were also seen in Paris, France, and Berlin, Germany outside Russian embassies.
Meanwhile, video shows Russian authorities have begun detaining all domestic protesters Thursday.
Among those being taking into custody is Marina Litvinovich, a Moscow-based opposition activist who had taken to social media to call for anti-war protests in several Russian cities, Reuters reported. She told the outlet that she was detained while she was on the way back to her home.
The Russian interior minister stressed that “all necessary measures will be taken to insure public order.”
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the government agency tasked with investigating major crimes, also warned those who participated in any protests amid “the tense foreign political situation” would face prosecution or be held criminally liable.
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In Washington, D.C., the driveway outside the Russian embassy was spray-painted with the word “MURDER” in red lettering. U.S. Secret Service and DC police were spotted standing at the scene.
A senior US Defense Department official told reporters on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal appears to be seizing the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, “decapitating the government” and “installing his own method of governance.” He claimed Putin indicated this himself during his overnight speech.
According to the U.S. Embassy Riga, U.S. troops from the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in Latvia Thursday morning. They were the first U.S. forces being repositioned to the Baltics to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to Allies and bolster NATO’s eastern flank.
However, the official emphasized that, “U.S. troops are not going to be fighting the war in Ukraine.” The U.S. military has no aircraft in Ukrainian airspace as of Wednesday morning, he said.
Russia has launched more than 100 ballistic missiles into Ukraine since its initial onslaught overnight. Starting around 9:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, Russian forces began launching missiles from land and sea-based platforms from the Black Sea toward key cities in central and eastern Ukraine, the official said.
Land incursions were also happening, and so far, the main targets have been primarily on military and air defense, barracks and ammunition warehouses, he added.
The official said Russian forces were fighting all three major axes “designed to take key population centers.” The heaviest fighting has been occurring near an axis from northeast of Ukraine to the south, starting from Belarus to an advance on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
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A second axis extends from north central Ukraine to the south from Belarus toward Kyiv. There’s a third axis in the south spreading from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, to the Ukrainian city of Kherson.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, called for Russia to be removed from SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, and for allies to support them through devasting financial sanctions against Russia, through defensive anti-air supplies, and by cutting all diplomatic ties with Russia. Recognizing Ukraine is not a member of NATO, Markarova said she did not expect U.S. troops to defend Ukraine but expected other support give their “strategic friendship.”