WESTWOOD, Calif.—Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Federal Building in Westwood on Feb. 24 to express their outrage after Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on the night of Feb. 23.
The crowd—many were Ukrainian Americans and Russian Americans—sang Ukraine’s national anthem and held signages that read “Stop war in Ukraine,” “Support Ukraine,” “I’m ashamed that I’m Russian.”
Many of them have loved ones in Ukraine and are dearly concerned about their safety.
One of the organizers of the protest, Mykhailo Lavrys, urged the crowd to ask their representatives to put more pressure on Russia.
“We need to push the government of the United States, the White House, and the senators to implement the most radical sanctions right now. There is no time to wait,” Lavrys said to the protestors.
Lavrys believed that the invasion of Ukraine is unjust and condemned the countries that did not impose sanctions against Russia’s action.
Iryna Lopushenko, a Ukrainian international student studying at the University of California–Los Angeles’s law school, told The Epoch Times that all her family and friends are in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and she was worried that the war might get to them.
“Ukrainian people need your support,” said Lopushenko. “I knew about the attack before the media published it, because my sister called me and said that she woke up because of the sound of explosion in Kyiv.”
Kseniia Korniienko, a Ukrainian student at Santa Monica College, called upon world leaders to act, saying her parents in Kyiv have been hiding in the bathroom.
“I stand for my country! I can’t see how my city is destroyed!” Korniienko told The Epoch Times while sobbing. “I am here to tell the world that this is not only the Ukrainian crisis. This is the world’s problem. If [other countries] do not sanction [Russia], we can face a very terrible outcome.”
Another Ukrainian from Kyiv, Dasha Korniienko—not related to Kseniia—said she came to the United States nine months ago for a graduate program, and she originally planned to go back home after her study.
“We are angry. I need to go back [to Ukraine] but I don’t know where to go back now,” Korniienko told The Epoch Times. “I beg you please don’t give my native city away.”
Grisha Franguridi, a Russian from Moscow and one of the speakers at the demonstration, said thousands of millions of fellow Russians did not support the invasion, and he urged the international community to condemn Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
“I stand here ashamed of my country or my government’s actions. I did not elect this president,” Franguridi said.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 137 people had been killed and 316 were wounded as of early Friday local time, ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday, reported AFP. People in Kyiv are trying to evacuate as the capital has been the main target for Russian attacks, according to BBC.