Russia invasion: Hundreds march through Christchurch in anti-Vladimir Putin protest amid fears for family in Ukraine

A large anti-Vladimir Putin protest took place in Christchurch on Saturday with many Ukrainians there to express desperation about what's happening in their homeland.

Hundreds marched through central Christchurch with a clear message to the Kremlin: "Stop Putin!"

Many were Ukrainians - emotional and terrified.

"All my family is there and I'm the only one here and it's scary. They're getting bombed every day," one Ukrainian girl told Newshub.

Ukrainian expat Vladimir Rodnyanskiy added: "I'm very worried about my hometown and my dad who's still there and every night he spends in the shelter and he didn't have a chance to leave the city and now he's stuck and there are rockets above his head flying."

This is war and these eastern Europeans are desperate with messages for the New Zealand Government.

"Please help us to stop Putin and stop the war in Europe," one told Newshub.

"I honestly believe that we are on the edge of World War III and the whole Western world and all countries in the world should prevent it," Rodnyanskiy added.

There have been calls to open up the borders here to those fleeing the war.

"So much family there we have, we have brothers and sisters who are going to die."

The march was full of Ukrainians with families back home currently sheltering from bombs. They haven't slept in days, up all night talking to loved ones in their homeland.

"I have no life, I don't sleep, I don't eat, I need to get some water," one said. "The third world war's started."

Many have civilian friends back home who are now armed to try defend their country.

"They're going to fight till the end," one said.

People from Russia also came to stand in solidarity - but were ashamed.

"Ashamed of being Russian, that my country has launched the most horrifying war in modern history," one said.

Her daughter was also at the protest, a young Russian Kiwi standing arm and arm with her Ukrainian best friend.