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IN PICTURES: Tens of thousands of people across Germany demonstrate for peace in Ukraine

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of several major German cities on Sunday to protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

People take part in a protest against the war in Ukraine in Frankfurt
People take part in a protest against the war in Ukraine on March 13th, 2022, in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. (Photo by Yann Schreiber / AFP)
According to the organisers, some 125,000 people across Germany marched for peace on Sunday.

Large letters spell out the word “Peace” during a demonstration against Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, on March 13th, 2022 in Berlin. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

The demonstration was called by an alliance of peace, human rights and environmental protection organisations, trade unions and churches. 

In a written appeal, organisers condemned the “increasingly brutal” attacks against civilians in Ukraine, and praised the courage of Russians protesting against Moscow’s actions.

“Together, we call on Putin to immediately stop the attacks, withdraw from Ukraine and restore the nation’s territorial integrity,” the letter said.

Protesters display altered portraits of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a demonstration against Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, in Berlin on March 13th, 2022. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)
 

In Berlin, demonstrators, including young and old, families and children, massed at Brandenburg Gate. Some carried yellow and blue balloons, the colour of Ukraine, while others waved placards with slogans such as “Stop the War”, “Peace”, “What happened to the vaccine against war?” and “Stop Putin”.

 
Police estimated that 20,000-30,000 people took part in the city, while the organisers put the number at 60,000.
 
There was a strong police presence, too – 550 officers – but the atmosphere was peaceful and most participants worse masks. 
 

A giant figure representing Russian President Vladimir Putin swallowing a map of the Ukraine is seen during the demonstration on March 13th, 2022 in Berlin. The figure was created by French carnival float constructor Jacques Tilly and in Duesseldorf, western Germany, during a Rose Monday event in this carnival hotspot. The lettering reads: “Choke on it!!!”. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

The turnout in Berlin on Sunday was smaller than the 100,000-strong crowd that attended a Ukraine solidarity march in the capital two weeks ago, three days after Russia launched its invasion.

A man participating in a demonstration against the war in Ukraine holds up a banner reading “Turn off the gas tap” in Stuttgart, southern Germany, on March 13th, 2022. (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP)

In Frankfurt, around 11,000 people gathered in solidarity with Ukrainians, according to a police spokesman, who said the rallies proceeded “peacefully and without incident”.

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POLITICS

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Germany's investments in defence in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will transform it into the biggest contributor to NATO in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Alongside the United States, Germany is “certainly making the largest contribution” to NATO, Scholz said in an interview with the ARD broadcaster.

Speaking at the close of a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies, Scholz said Germany was in the process of creating “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe”.

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Bundestag approves €100 billion fund to beef up defences

He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence, answering years of criticism from close allies that Berlin was failing to contribute enough to the alliance.

Russia’s invasion had led to a renewed conviction “that we should spend more money on defence”, Scholz said.

“We will spend an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defence over the next few years,” he said, meaning “Germany is the country that invests the most in this”.

Scholz’s announcement in February was seen as a major policy shift, upending Germany’s traditionally cautious approach to defence as a result of its post-war guilt.

Germany had steadily reduced the size of its army since the end of the Cold War from around 500,000 at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000.

NATO allies are from Tuesday gathering in Madrid for a summit, where the United States is expected to announce new long-term military deployments across Europe.

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