As Russia’s invasion of his country reached the one-month mark, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the world from outside a government building, a soldier keeping watch in the background.
“Make yourself visible and heard,” he said in English during the multilingual video address. “Say that people matter, freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.”
The Ukrainian president has conducted a virtual speaking tour over the past four weeks, appearing in front of leaders and legislative bodies across North America and Europe to rally backing for his country’s defense. His Wednesday video underscored what he has repeated again and again: “The world must stop the war,” Zelensky said, asking for further demonstrations of solidarity.
All around the world, protests have sprung up over the past month condemning the war. In London, people held placards and waved Ukrainian and British flags. In Durban, South Africa, protesters holding antiwar posters marched along the city’s Golden Mile Beach. In Belgrade, Serbia, one demonstrator burned his Russian passport. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, people clutched bunches of flowers.
In Russia, antiwar protests have occurred daily, the independent human rights organization OVD-Info reported, with police detaining thousands. More than 4,500 protesters were arrested in one day early this month.
The sunflower, Ukraine’s national flower, has become a global symbol of solidarity. People are adding the bright yellow sunflower emoji to their social media profiles and wearing sunflowers in their hair and on their clothing. Some are planting seeds so more sunflowers can grow. In one viral video, a Ukrainian woman was heard telling armed Russian soldiers, “Take these seeds so sunflowers grow here when you die,” BBC News reported.
Protesters have turned out in force inside Ukraine, too, despite the dangers. Dozens of Ukrainian protesters chanted “Go home!” in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson on Sunday. They were later violently dispersed by Russian forces.
Zelensky has sought to frame the war as the Kremlin’s attack on free and democratic societies, and he has used his nightly video messages to boost morale at home and stir support abroad.
“They thought Ukrainians would be frightened; they thought Ukrainians would not fight. They were wrong,” he said Wednesday of Russia, adding later: “A month has passed — we withstood six times longer than the enemy had planned.”
Zelensky also addressed Russians directly, saying he knows many are tired of Moscow’s propaganda about the war and encouraging them to continue speaking out.
“Save your sons from the war, tell the truth about the war,” he said.