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Thousands protest against NATO ahead of key Madrid summit

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By Euronews and Reuters
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An activist with a water gun takes part in an anti-NATO demonstration in downtown Madrid on June 26, 2022.
An activist with a water gun takes part in an anti-NATO demonstration in downtown Madrid on June 26, 2022.   -   Copyright  Credit: AFP

More than 2,000 people have protested against NATO in Madrid ahead of a key summit in the Spanish capital later this week. 

Carrying the hammer and sickle flags of the former Soviet Union, they were critical of the alliance's role in the Ukraine war. 

"What we call the Ukraine war is not a war between Russia and Ukraine, it’s a war between NATO and Russia," claimed Manuel Pardo, a spokesman for a number of anti-NATO movements. 

"When the USSR disappeared, what happened was that NATO didn’t disappear as well. In fact, it took advantage of there not being a counterpower to reinforce NATO as an intervention tool."

One woman at the rally on Sunday was keen to stress the protesters are not in favour of Russia's invasion of Ukraine but said that escalating the conflict is not the answer.

Credit: Reuters
Demonstrators take part in an anti-NATO protest ahead of the NATO summit, which will be held on June 28 and June 30 in Madrid, Spain, June 26, 2022. REUTERS/Isabel InfantesCredit: Reuters

"Of course, we are also opposed to Putin, and this is also a central message, but we also think that the response to Putin can’t be the militarisation of our societies," said Andrea Polanco.

"I am fed up (with) this business of arms and killing people. The solution they propose is more arms and wars and we always pay for it. So, no NATO, no (army) bases, let the Americans go and leave us alone without wars and weapons," said Concha Hoyos, a retired Madrid resident, told Reuters.

Organisers claimed 5,000 people joined the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 2,200.

Critics of the demonstration said putting the spotlight on NATO is distracting attention from the real problem, Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The war, as well as Sweden and Finland's bid to join NATO, are set to dominate the Madrid summit on 29-30 June.