On Sunday evening, around 200 people gathered outside Truro Cathedral to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
The organisers said: “We share with our European neighbours the values of peace, democracy and the freedom to work, travel and prosper across Europe.”
Ukraine, which has been under a full-scale Russian invasion since 24 February has seen daily missile attacks against large cities, Russian tanks outside the capital of Kyiv, and a refugee crisis heading west towards Europe. Russia, who claimed to launch “special operations” to protect ethnic Russians in the Donetsk and Luhnansk regions, have received global condemnation and major sanctions for illegally invading Ukraine in the largest conventual operation since WW2.
Organised by the Cornwall for Europe (CFE) foundation, the event started outside Truro Cathedral at 4.30pm, designed as a silent vigil for Ukrainians and locals to show their support for Ukraine and opposition of the Russian invasion. The group encouraged anyone to attend, wear the colours of the Ukraine flag (blue and yellow), and bring daffodils to leave in a memorial to those fallen.
The event showed both Cornish and Ukrainians coming together in opposition to war, speakers included the mayor of Truro (Steven Webb), CFE host Tom Scott, a Ukrainian woman who had already lost family in Ukraine and others.
Some attendees brought placards with messages to Ukraine, some saying they “stand with Ukraine” or “peace for Ukraine” but others directed at Russian President Putin, who started the war.
The event ended with the Dean of Truro, Roger Bush, holding a prayer on the Cathedral steps. Attendees then placed daffodils, placards, and candles next to the cathedral in a memorial to Ukrainians.
European leaders have not committed to place boots on the ground as Ukraine is not currently a NATO member. British PM Boris Johnson recently announced an extra £40 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, as well as military exports alongside 30 other nations supplying the country before the conflict began. However, the government has recently been criticised for only waving the flag and not the visas, making it difficult for refugees from Ukraine to come to the UK, with countries such as Ireland dropping most of their visa requirements. It is suggested that over 100,000 refugees have fled to bordering countries of Ukraine such as Poland and Romania, which are dropping most of their entry requirements.
CFE announced that it has raised over £1,000 to support Ukraine relief efforts and refugees through the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.
Kyiv is still under Ukrainian control, and its forces are holding against the Russian army. The world is reacting to the invasion with large protests, including in the capitols of Russia and Belarus which led to mass arrests. Putin has put his nuclear forces on alert but opened peace negotiations on the border, with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy refusing to leave his country.