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People protest in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, on February 24 against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images)

German lawmakers criticized Chancellor Olaf Scholz for not cutting Russia off from the vital high-security payment network, SWIFT, in the European Union’s latest round of sanctions on Moscow.

German Parliament member Norbert Röttgen, from the Christian Democrats party, said on Twitter that cutting Russia from SWIFT is the ”sharpest sword” for sanctions, adding that: ”The SWIFT exclusion of Russia must not fail now because of Germany!”

This sentiment was shared with other German politicians. ”Russia must now be cut from SWIFT!” German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht wrote on Twitter Thursday, adding ”If Germany prevents this key sanction, the way will be prepared for Putin to expand his war in #Europe.”

Germany is Russia’s biggest gas customer and has tried to keep the Nord Stream 2 pipeline out of global politics. On Tuesday, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the Nord Stream 2 approval process over the Ukraine crisis.

Thousands protest: Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Thursday night in a show of support for Ukraine, with many carrying Ukrainian flags, CNN’s team in the city reports.

Police said that around 2,500 people — among them some Ukrainian expatriates living in Germany — gathered at the Brandenburg Gate, which was lit in Ukraine’s national colors for a second night in a row.

Around 1,500 people also gathered outside Germany’s Chancellery.

Demonstrators were seen chanting “Stand with Ukraine” and ”Stop Putin, Stop war.” Protesters held up signs reading ”Cut Swift, cut Russia off’,’ and ”Radical sanctions against Russia now.”

Around 150 protesters also gathered outside the Russian Embassy, police said.

Crowds also gathered in other German cities including Potsdam, Leipzig and Munich in a show of support as Moscow began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine Thursday.



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