Russian police have arrested more than 1,700 people in anti-war protests in dozens of cities, as thousands took to the streets after President Vladimir Putin sent troops to attack Ukraine, an independent observer said on Thursday.

Many in Russia are skeptical of Putin’s plans to attack his pro-Western neighbour.

Moscow was asleep when Putin ordered air and ground strikes on Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday.

As troops advanced, the Kremlin said it believed Russia should “support” the war and Ukraine should be “liberated and cleansed of the Nazis.”

But amid the shocking death scenes in Ukraine, many prominent figures publicly spoke out against the war on Thursday, and thousands of ordinary Russians against draconian anti-protest laws took to the streets across the country.

Prison opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who mobilized Russia’s biggest protest against Putin, is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in a penal colony near Moscow.

Nearly 1,700 individuals have reportedly been detained in 53 Russian towns, according to OVD-Info, which keeps tabs on arrests during opposition demonstrations. According to the Monitor, more than 900 people were detained in Moscow and more than 400 in St. Petersburg.

Watch Video of the protest Here