Ukrainian flags and supportive car horns from those passing by flooded the air in Westwood on Saturday. Hundreds of people gathered in front of an office building at 1111 Santa Monica Boulevard to protest the ongoing Russian military assault of Ukraine.
The Russian invasion began late last Wednesday night and has since escalated. Kyiv—the capital of Ukraine—was one of the first cities to be bombed and continues to fight off Russian forces as they try to encircle the area.
“There is shooting outside near my house which is in the center of Kyiv,” said Daryna, 22, with a Ukrainian flag draped around her shoulders.
Daryna was born and raised in Kyiv but recently moved to Los Angeles for work. Her family—including her father and brother—are still located in the Ukrainian capital. The country has urged families to go to bomb shelters, but many have refused in favor of defending their people from the Russian army.
“My father refuses to go to the bomb shelters because… he will defend everything we have,” She added. “All of us are crying, all of us cannot sleep properly; it’s a nightmare and I wish that all of this will be over.”
Natalia, 31, is also from Kyiv and has friends currently in the city during the Russian attack. She added that most of her family are in the country as well, though in Western Ukraine. Tens of thousands have done the same, with many of them crossing into Romania and Poland, both of which have opened their borders to those fleeing the war.
“It’s an unprecedented war and all Ukrainian people want is independence and sovereignty, and Putin just wouldn’t let us have it,” she said.
Natalia also wanted to let Ukraine and her friends know that “the whole world” is with them and “we believe in our army, we believe in you, and hopefully, we are going to prevail.”
One protestor, Anastasia, 35, is originally from Russia and held a sign that said: “I’m Russian, NO WAR. STOP PUTIN” with a heart containing the Ukrainian flag in the middle.
“I am against the war and I think it is not the right thing to do,” She said. “I am here to support the country [Ukraine], to support peace.”
Her sentiments have been echoed in her home country as well, as thousands have continued to hold demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg despite hundreds being detained every day by police.
At the protest, organizers offered attendants to sign a letter addressed to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose office is just above where the demonstration took place.
“If Russia is not stopped now, this will be a clear message to the whole world that international law is irrelevant,” the letter said.
It made two requests of the U.S. government: To “provide military, financial, and intelligence aid to Ukraine” and “cripple the Russian economy.”
The world has recently taken action on the invasion, with President Joe Biden announcing sanctions against Russia and the European Union announcing Sunday that the 27-nation bloc will close its airspace to Russian airlines, help fund weapon supplies to Ukraine, and ban multiple pro-Kremlin media outlets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has actively been on the frontlines with soldiers and recently said he doesn’t believe there will be a positive outcome of the negotiations with Russia, according to The Kyiv Independent.
“But let them try, so that no citizen of Ukraine doubts that I, as president, tried to stop the war when there was still a chance, however small,” Zelensky said in a video address.
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