Thousands of demonstrators protest Ukraine’s “surrender” to Russia

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Thousands of people demonstrated in central Kiev Thursday evening against “surrender” against Russia as the first meeting between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelinsky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin approaches.

The two leaders will meet for the first time since Zelensky was elected in April at a four-way summit in Paris on December 9, which includes French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Demonstrators gathered in Kiev on the day Ukraine celebrated the sixth anniversary of the pro-European uprising, held banners reading “No to surrender!” And Ukrainian flags.

“Any concessions make the situation worse. We cannot make an agreement with Putin,” one of them, 44-year-old Andrei Sergeyenko, told AFP.

The demonstration comes against the backdrop of a relative calm between Moscow and Kiev after Russia returned this week three Ukrainian military ships seized a year ago off the Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

In September, a large number of prisoners were exchanged allowing the return of the three crew members after their detention in Russia.

The first withdrawals of Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist fighters took place in three sectors on the front line in the east, where the conflict has killed more than 13,000 people.

“The actions of Zelinski and his team to withdraw the troops are real surrender. This is not normal,” another protester, Yulia Nikolayenko, 30, told AFP.

Unlike his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, who advocates a hard line with Moscow, Zielinski supports dialogue.

But this policy is unpopular with a section of the Ukrainian people, especially among nationalists and veterans who demonstrated in large numbers to protest what they see as “surrender” to Moscow.

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