‘France, make cheese not war!’ Ukrainians rally in front of the French embassy in London

On 7 September 2014, over 30 Ukrainian activists and supporters rallied in front of the French embassy in London, protesting against France selling Mistral warships to Russia.

20140907_155416Russia has ordered two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships from France. The first one was scheduled to be delivered in October this year, and the French officials have been defending the arms sale for a while despite the position of the international community against arming Russia as an aggressor in Ukraine. Following the increasing criticism from NATO and the EU, after the meeting of the French defence committee on 3 September, a statement was issued by the office of French President Francois Hollande announcing the suspension of the 1.2 billion euro deal and claiming that the conditions for the delivery of the ship ‘have so far not been met’.

20140907_152627Despite the warship delivery has been put on hold, Ukrainian communities worldwide continued rallying against the military deal between France and Russia. The suspension was approached with a degree of scepticism; especially considering that the decision was made after months of resistance by Paris, did not mean ultimate cancellation of the sale, and could cost France at least 1 billion euro to reimburse what Russia has already paid and to cover the penalty fee. Protests took place this and previous weeks in the UK, France, Ukraine, Ireland, Spain, USA, Canada, Finland and Netherlands.

20140907_153423_1London-based activists have already rallied against Mistral sales in June and July this year.

20140907_152637Today, they gathered in front of the embassy with flags and banners. The protesters chanted: ‘No Mistrals for Putin’, ‘France, save Ukraine’, ‘France, stop arming aggressor, ‘France, save Europe’, ‘No business with Russia, no business with Putin’, ‘Today Ukraine, tomorrow France’, ‘Make cheese not war’ and ‘France, sell snails not warships’.

20140907_153208Some of the passers-by expressed their solidarity; cars driving past the rally occasionally honked in support. Although the protest took place in the upscale area of Knightsbridge which has a high concentration of Russian residents, no conflict occurred during the two hours, except a rather peaceful discussion with passers-by from Donetsk. Some people, on the contrary, openly articulated their support in Russian language.

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