Tank wreck, protests mark war anniversary in Europe
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Tank wreck, protests mark war anniversary in Europe

Activists parked a Russian T-72 tank, destroyed in Ukraine, outside Russia's embassy in Berlin. (Photo: AFP)
Activists parked a Russian T-72 tank, destroyed in Ukraine, outside Russia's embassy in Berlin. (Photo: AFP)

BERLIN: Activists on Friday parked a bombed-out Russian tank in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin, with thousands of protesters across Europe due to march against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

On the first anniversary of the war, leaders across Europe joined in ceremonies underlining unwavering support for Ukraine and commemorating victims of the conflict.

Crowds fell silent for a minute at Tallinn's Freedom Square where EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gathered for a ceremony for the fallen.

In London, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak observed a minute's pause in front of Downing Street, before the Ukrainian anthem was sung by two singers dressed in traditional Ukrainian vyshyvanka shirts.

Leaders from France's President Emmanuel Macron to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Britain's King Charles III published messages condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin's war.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the National Theatre in Warsaw and the European Commission's building in Brussels were lit up in the blue-yellow colours of Ukraine's flag late Thursday.

Protesters against Russia's invasion gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, with some holding up blue and yellow umbrellas amid the drizzle.

'Reality much closer'

Enno Lenza and Wieland Giebel, who operate a private German museum, said they had stationed the tank wreck by Russia's imposing embassy off the Brandenburg Gate "as a symbol of Russia's downfall".

"We want to put their scrap metal in front of the gates of the terrorists," said Giebel, who for months was caught in a bureaucratic tangle with Berlin authorities over the tank installation.

The tank, a T72 B1 from 1985, was damaged on March 31 last year near Bucha, the town near Kyiv which has become a byword for alleged Russian war crimes.

Sabine Ertl, a tourist on holiday in Berlin, said the tank was both "impressive and scary".

"It brings this reality much closer," she told AFP.

'Fast action'

Lorenzo Graif, a student from Chile studying in Berlin, said the installation was a "good way to demonstrate in front of the embassy".

At an event led by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who underlined that Kyiv could count on Berlin, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky beamed in a message thanking Western allies for their support for his country.

Zelensky was also due to address demonstrators in Berlin later Friday via video-link.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on Trafalgar Square in London in support of Ukraine.

Ksenia Miletska, a volunteer at a charity, voiced surprise at the level of support for Ukraine in Britain.

"It's unbelievable when you have a Ukrainian flag with you, and all the people say, 'Oh Slava Ukraini, Slava Ukraini.' They know what it means. They put millions of comments in our Tik Toks etc, and it's very cool."

Financial accountant Oksana Podlesnayka urged more action rather than words.

"There's a lot of words, but not enough action. We need fast action, we need fast delivery, because people are dying every day."

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