UKRANIANS in Scotland today joined together with Edinburgh residents, activists and politicians at a demonstration at the capital’s Russian consulate against this week’s invasion of Ukraine.

The protest was one of many taking place across Europe, while in Russia, anti-war demonstrations have reportedly led to hundreds of arrests in cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg.

Following chants of “slava Ukraini” (glory to Ukraine) by the hundreds assembled, the Ukrainian national anthem was sung and accompanied by a bagpiper.

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Amongst the speakers present was Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater, who told the crowd: “Yesterday, the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted in favour of passing a motion in support and solidarity of the people of Ukraine, against this unjust war of aggression.

“Today is terribly sad day. Last night, I met with my Green colleagues from across Europe, and to hear what’s happening in Eastern Europe is absolutely heartbreaking. The first train of refugees was accepted into Warsaw last night at nine o’clock. In Bulgaria, they’re getting ready for radiation fallout, because of all the nuclear power installations in Ukraine that may be hit. This is real.

“But the European Union is unifying and standing together, with all nations ready to take in refugees and to do their part to support the people of Ukraine and condemn Russian aggression – to put in place the strongest possible sanctions.

“Democracy is a fragile shield against war. Democratic nations tend not to go to war against each other. But when we allow an autocratic power like Russia to supply our energy needs, to launder its money in our banks, to corrupt and donate money to our political parties, we allow those autocratic regimes cracks into our democracy, which then enables this kind of aggression.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole Hamilton said: “I’m not here as a Scottish Liberal Democrat today. I’m here as a member of a united Scottish Parliament that last night voted overwhelmingly and completely to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and against Russian expansionist aggression.”

To the Ukranians present, Cole-Hamilton added: “You are so welcome here. We stand with you, we hold you in our hearts, and we will not abandon you.

“Yesterday, and for the first time this century, a land war began on continental Europe. Vladimir Putin has undermined the territorial sovereignty of a democracy. He has broken international law, and history will not forgive him.

“Today, we meet in Edinburgh. Edinburgh, since 1989, has been twinned with Kyiv. That relationship must now mean something. It is why yesterday we called on the Scottish Government to amend the New Scots Strategy – originally designed to help Syrian refugees – so that we can offer safe harbour, in the villages and towns of Scotland, to Ukranians fleeing conflict in the Ukraine.

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“And I want to say a message to the Russian people who are marching in the streets of Russian cities – we see you. We are grateful for your bravery. We know the actions of the gangsters in the Putin regime are not in your name, and thank you for your solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

“We don’t know how long this will last; we don’t know where this lead. But what starts today will continue as a vigil of solidarity between the people of Scotland and the people of Ukraine. We love you.”

Scottish Labour’s Cammy Day, deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council, added: “Edinburgh people welcome anybody from Ukraine and Russia to our beautiful city today – and Russian troops should go home.”