Russian Protests: Thousands March Over Ukraine Involvement

Peace marches against the Russian role in eastern Ukraine drew thousands of protesters over the weekend. Protesters gathered in the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow for antiwar demonstrations, according to Radio Free Europe.

The Russian marches happened on September 20 and 21, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s march took place in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. Dozens of pro-Russian separatists were also there as part of a counter-protest.

The marches in Russia took place with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on September 21. The International Day of Peace is an annual event declared by the U.N., and not directly related to the situation between Russia and the Ukraine.

Russian citizens protested the country’s military incursions into eastern Ukraine against the backdrop of an explosion in Donetsk, Ukraine, over the weekend, according to the New York Times. Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels had just signed the latest version a cease-fire agreement when the huge explosion happened, sending billowing smoke into the air.

The fragile peace was also shattered by artillery fire on Saturday that hit a dynamite factory in the Ukraine.

Russia has been making other moves that could be interpreted as military strong-arming against sovereign nations over the past week. On Wednesday, two Russian IL-78 refueling tankers, two Russian Mig-31 fighter jets, and two Russian Bear long-range bombers were intercepted off the coast of Alaska, CNN reports. The network said that Capt. Jeff Davis of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed the presence of the jets.

The planes were approaching U.S. airspace when they were detected.

On Friday, the Swedish government summoned the Russian ambassador over two planes that entered their airspace, according to the Swedish news outlet The Local. Two Russian SU24 fighter-bombers flew over Sweden and passed briefly through the south of the country. The incident also happened on Wednesday, the same day Russian planes flew toward U.S. airspace.

The Local said that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt described the flights as “the most serious aerial incursion by the Russians during my years as foreign minister.”

The Russian protests on Sunday in Moscow were seen as an extension of a peace march that was held in March just before Russia annexed Crimea.

Marches took place in about two dozen other cities across the globe, including San Francisco, Berlin, Prague, Kiev, New York, and Paris, according to The Moscow Times. Across Russia, there were also protests in numerous other cities, including Saratov, Yekaterinburg, Barnaul, and elsewhere. A protest in Ponomaryov, Russia, was broken up by police, but the other Russian protests didn’t seem to encounter any serious problems.