UPDATE: About 200 gather outside Ottawa Russian embassy in first of two weekend protests

By CityNews Ottawa

About 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Russian embassy in Ottawa by the early afternoon of Saturday, February 26 – the first of two weekend protests in opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.

Several flag-waving and sign-holding protesters lined the sidewalk across from the embassy on Charlotte Street.

There was singing and chanting, and some cars driving by honked in support of the cause.

“Hands Off Ukraine” read some of the protesters' signs. “Stop Russian Aggression” read another.

A second protest, organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, was scheduled for Sunday, February 27 at 2 p.m.

Similar protests at Russian consulates and embassies have taken place across Canada and the world since the Russian offensive started before dawn Thursday.

Following the three-week long trucker convoy that paralyzed the nation’s capital, Ottawa police has reissued its protest guidelines to residents planning on taking part in either of the weekend’s demonstrations to ensure they remain “lawful, peaceful and respectful.” 

Police say protesters cannot block highways, cause disturbance, interfere with transportation facilities, use offensive volatile substance, cause mischief, and more. 

On Saturday, Russian troops pressed toward Ukraine’s capital after a night of explosions and street fighting sent Kyiv residents seeking shelter underground.

The conflict has already driven hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from their homes. U.N. officials say more than 120,000 Ukrainians have left the country for Poland, Moldova and other neighbouring nations.

Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine’s government and replace it with a regime of his own.

The invasion represented Putin’s boldest effort yet to redraw the map of Europe and revive Moscow’s Cold War-era influence. It triggered new international efforts to end the invasion, including direct sanctions on Putin.

Ukraine’s health minister reported that 198 people, including three children, have been killed and more than 1,000 others have been wounded

Ukrainian officials say hundreds of Russians have been killed in the first days of fighting. Russian authorities released no casualty figures.

—With files from The Associated Press.

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