Ukraine supporters gather in Dutch cities to denounce Russian invasion
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning has left many shocked, hurt, and scared. Protesters gathered in The Hague, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam to express their concern and plead for the international community’s support in the face of a huge military threat. They emphasized that while Ukrainians are currently being attacked, the rest of the world is also at risk. Charitable organizations have been rallying; the Dutch refugee support organization, Stichting Vluchteling, started a fundraiser that raised 100,000 euros in just three hours.
The mood was tense as several dozen people stood outside the Russian Embassy in The Hague. With Ukrainian flags in hand, they chanted insults against Russian President Vladimir Putin. A protest also took place earlier outside the Binnenhof complex. Placards with texts like “Stop War,” "Putin Fuck off from Ukraine," and “Stop Russia” were visible.
“Putin just wants to be like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. He wants to make history books and he just doesn’t care what people think,” Taras Maletych warned in an interview with AD.
Lidiia Silchenko agreed, saying, “He thinks people suffering is ok, he doesn’t think blood is a problem.” The comments constantly circled back to concern that Putin’s relentless nature.
Some Russians in the Netherlands also share the fears of people from Ukraine. One Russian language teacher who spoke to NL Times described how, “I have a lot of different emotions; frustration, sadness, fear, and anger.” These same emotions were echoed by protesters in the Hague who called for peace and demanded the West put a stop to Putin’s regime.
Back home in Russia, the language teacher’s family feels the same. “Nobody wants this war, people are worried about the consequences like economic crisis, closed borders, inflation, and unnecessary deaths.”
The teacher who corresponded with NL Times wished to remain anonymous, and said that, unfortunately, anti-Russian sentiment could impact their business in the Netherlands. “My school provides Russian courses to people who are interested in Russian culture and traveling, those who have a Russian partner and in-law family, etc. I am afraid that after this war, the borders will close and the negative attitude towards Russia will grow. It's quite difficult for people here to separate the Russian culture, people, and the language from the Russian government and politics.”
A Ukrainian language school teacher, who was interviewed by NL Times, was also preoccupied with the situation in her home country. “Everyone has family and friends in Ukraine and have been talking to them since the beginning of the escalation. There is still a mobile phone connection.” Like those protesting in The Hague, she still has close members of her family trapped in the country. “Almost no one from my family has left Ukraine yet.”
The protesters in The Hague want a firm commitment from the West to intervene in any way possible. Otherwise, they fear the suffering in Ukraine will rise and full-fledged war will break out. “Please, please stop Russia. Do whatever you can because they are not going to stop with Ukraine, they are going to move further,” a Ukrainian protester named Elona told AD.