Protesters urge Nato to ‘close the skies’ over Ukraine

Hundreds of protesters carrying Ukrainian flags attended the event outside Downing Street.

12 March 2022

Hundreds of protesters have called for Nato to “close the skies” over Ukraine at a demonstration outside Downing Street.

The protest, organised by Ukrainian campaign group London Euromaidan, began at 2pm and finished at around 5pm on Saturday.

Hundreds of protesters carrying Ukrainian flags attended the event.

The crowd chanted “Close the skies” and “Hands off Ukraine, Putin”.

There were also songs and speeches in Ukrainian.

Attendees carried signs saying “Only military force will stop a madman” and “Sanctions do not stop bombs”.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Markiyan, a 23-year-old British-Ukrainian, called on the UK Government and Nato to “close the skies”.

“I am here to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to demand that the UK and Nato as a whole do more to help Ukrainian people,” he said.

“We are demanding that they close the skies, we need more sanctions.”

He also called on the UK Government to speed up the visa process for Ukrainian refugees.

Markiyan said: “My aunt is trying to get into the UK now and the whole visa process is very long and it’s quite inconsiderate compared to other European countries.

“I think that it needs to be a lot quicker.”

He compared the UK’s refugee response to that of Poland, which has more than one million Ukrainians in it.

“We have accepted several hundred people,” Markiyan said.

“Whereas Poland are dealing with 1.3 million Ukrainians and they can’t handle it.”

He said he was worried about his family in Ukraine, who struggle to find food and water.

Markiyan added that he had cried a lot at the start of the war, but that he was being strong for his family now.

He said: “I was worried at the start, crying quite a lot, but you’ve got to stay strong and keep the faith.

“In the long term Ukraine will be free, we will win.”

Markiyan’s worries about his family were echoed by Olesya, 32, who said she constantly checks her phone for updates about her family in Ukraine.

“Every 15 minutes we are checking our phones, we are checking to see that they are OK,” she said.

Olesya said that her relatives are “super stressed”.

She added: “They had to escape under shelling, they have seen people be shot in front of them.

“They are lucky that they made it out alive.”

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