By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2795

Marchers in London say, ‘Russian troops out of Ukraine, no to Nato escalation’

This article is over 2 years, 3 months old
This needs to be the start of bigger mobilisations
Issue 2795
A crowd on the Stop The War protest

On the Stop The War march in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Around 5,000 people marched against the war in Ukraine in London on Sunday. The protest, organised by the Stop The War Coalition as part of a global day of action, sent the message—Russian troops out, no to Nato escalation. 

Marchers chanted, “What do we want, Russian troops out now,” and, “No to war, no to Nato.”Thousands of people also took to the streets of towns and cities across Britain, including over 500 in Leeds and 300 in Manchester (see below). 

In London, student Diana told Socialist Worker she is terrified for her relatives in Ukraine. “I’m worried all the time at the moment,” she said. “When I get to talk to my family in Ukraine, sometimes when we’re on the line to them, they hear sirens and they have to run and hide.” 

Protester Lauren said that it was essential to build anti-war protests. “What ordinary people do matters,” she said. “Whether it means standing on the street or posting on social media, we have to make those in power notice.” 

Sarah said that she believed the conflict was all about “greed”. “This war is about rich people competing with other rich people and, in the process, killing poor people,” she said. “Growing up in the 1980s under the spectre of nuclear war, I thought we were past it. But now, once again, those in power talk about mutually assured destruction. People’s fingers are on those buttons again. It’s terrifying.” 

The conflict in Ukraine flows from inter-imperialist rivalry between the West and Russia—which is tearing the country apart. The US and Nato see the Ukraine war as an opportunity to extend their own imperial influence and escalation—such as a “no-fly zone”—offers no solution. 

Protesters gathered outside the BBC in Portland Place and then marched through the streets to Trafalgar Square.  Alex told Socialist Worker that he thinks the mainstream media presents a one-sided view of the conflict. “There’s a lot of very biased propaganda coming out at the moment,” he said. “That line is that Putin is the sole aggressor and that Nato expansion and more military intervention should be supported.” 

Protester Julia said, “Nato has slaughtered its way across the Earth, from Yemen to Libya. It won’t bring peace, only death.” 

Many marchers also demanded refugees should be welcome. Amanda told Socialist Worker that Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel are lying about not being able to accept any more refugees. “Whether refugees are from Ukraine or Yemen, borders should be open for all,” she said. 

The protest came after Labour left MPs capitulated over opposition to Nato in the face of Keir Starmer’s attacks.

Eleven MPs withdrew their names from a Stop The War statement after the party leadership threatened to withdraw the whip. Afterwards Diane Abbott came out in support of the “defensive alliance” and John McDonnell withdrew from a Stop The War rally. Not a single Labour left MP spoke at the rally in London. 

The Stop The War protest in Glasgow

Saying no to war in Glasgow

Meanwhile, anti-war protesters in Russia continue to take to the streets in the face of police brutality and imprisonment. 

“The Labour Party attacking anyone who is against Nato shows where its allegiances are now and really where it has always been,” said Julia. 

At the rally in Trafalgar Square, speakers included former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, NEU education union executive member Alex Kenny, Kate Hudson from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and socialist writer Tariq Ali. But there were no general secretaries from the major unions. Socialists in the unions need to build pressure on union leaders to oppose the war—against the Russian invasion and Nato escalation. 

Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, told the crowd, “The war didn’t begin here. It is the product of the invasions of the past. There have to be peace talks now. Stop The War opposes all wars—and we are against Nato intervention, we must say that.” 

Socialists should demand Russia withdraws its troops immediately—and unequivocally stand against US and Nato escalation.

Anti-war protests across Britain 

Some 40 anti-war protests, supported by the Stop the War Coalition, took place across Britain on Sunday.

About 350 people joined the Stop the War protest on Buchanan Steps in Glasgow. Speakers from Stop the War, the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and refugee rights campaigners expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and rejected the Russian invasion, Nato expansion and Russian and Western imperialism. 

Refugee rights activist Pinar Aksu stressed the need to welcome Ukrainian and all refugees and urged everyone to join the anti-racist march in Glasgow on 19 March.

Around 300 were on a Stop the War march in Manchester, 200 in Sheffield, 250 in Aberdeen, over 500 in Leeds, over 150 in Brighton, 120 in Worthing, 120 in Canterbury, 100 in Norwich and 50 in Plymouth. Rob Johnston reports there were 150 in Cardiff and “speakers were followed by a march through the city centre. People called for an immediate end to Vladimir Putin’s invasion and were critical of Nato’s actions worsening the situation”.

There were 250 on a march in Liverpool. Ash reports, “Socialist Worker’s  analysis was welcomed by most who said Nato and Boris Johnson are not to be trusted.”

There were 100 in Swansea with “lots of Labour Party members, but no elected Labour politicians,” reports an activist.

Up to 100 joined the Stop the War rally in York. Julie Forgan reports, “An open mic discussion heard from students, veteran anti-war campaigners, climate activists and refugees. 

“There was a clear determination both to oppose the war in Ukraine but also to oppose the warmongering of both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer. 

“Two Afghan refugees spoke about how their parents and family are left with no hope of joining their family in Britain and that while they welcome Ukrainian refugees that all refugees should be welcome.  People pointed to the links with the climate crisis both in terms of the horrors of potential extinction and the hope that we can organise grassroots resistance.”

About 60 people attended a rally at Chesterfield Town Hall, called by CND and Stop the War. “It was a very good turnout at short notice,” says Jeannie Robinson.

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