Russia-Ukraine Crisis

‘Everyone Is Scared': Ukrainian Americans in SoCal Outraged Over Putin's Attacks

Russian launched airstrikes against cities and military bases in Ukraine, including the takeover of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

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A group of Ukrainian Americans and supporters gathered in Westwood Thursday to express outrage over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Several dozen people held a rally against the military assault. They waved Ukrainian flags, played the Ukrainian national anthem and held signs with slogans including "Help save my home'' and "Stop Putin.''

“This is crazy,” said Roman Kuzminski, who was born and raised in Ukraine before coming to the United States at age 22. “Everyone understands what is happening right now in Ukraine. 

Demonstrators protest in support of Ukraine in Los Angeles.
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Demonstrators protest in support of Ukraine, in Los Angeles, on February 24, 2022. -(Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

“We should sanction. We should talk. We should probably even negotiate. So many people are dying right now, it’s crazy.”

Kuzminski said his parents remain Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and most populous city. 

“Everyone is scared,” he said. “No one really knows what might happen.”

Another rally of Ukrainian-Americans is expected in Studio City Thursday night.

The protests come during a day of developments, among the most worrying being a warfare at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, where radioactivity is still leaking from history’s worst nuclear disaster 36 years ago.

A speaker who said she came to the U.S. from Ukraine about nine months ago  addressed the crowd. She had just received word of the Chernobyl attack. 

“I just heard from my friends that Russia took over the Chernobyl nuclear power station,” she said. “So it seems they’re not going to terrorize Ukraine, they’re going to terrorize the whole f------ world.” 

Russian forces took control over the site after a fierce battle with Ukrainian national guards protecting the decommissioned plant, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told The Associated Press. The condition of the plant’s facilities, a confinement shelter and a repository for nuclear waste is unknown, he said.

An official familiar with current assessments said Russian shelling hit a radioactive waste repository at Chernobyl, and an increase in radiation levels was reported. The increase could not be immediately corroborated.

Southern California leaders also condemned the aggression and called for the most severe sanctions possible.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, called the Russian attack "a dark time for the people of Ukraine and for our global peace and security.''

Note: Data as of Feb. 20, 2022. Source: Rochan Consulting
Amy O’Kruk/NBC

"The United States must stand steadfast against Russian authoritarianism and unprovoked aggression,'' Porter said in a statement. "Together with partners and allies, we must support Ukraine, hold Russia accountable and be prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.''

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, called the invasion ``an attack on the idea that countries are free to choose their own destiny, an attack on the rules-based order that has kept world peace since WWII. And most critically, an attack on democracy itself.''

According to a presidential advisor, Ukraine has lost control of the site of the 1986 nuclear reactor explosion.

Schiff called for the most severe sanctions possible against Russia in response to the military action, targeting its banks, financial markets and "oligarchs.''

"This is Putin's war -- senseless, tragic and barbaric,'' Schiff said on his Twitter account. ``We must enact debilitating sanctions on Russia and cut them off from the global economy. And, in the meantime, we pray for the Ukrainian people. An end to this madness.''

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked attack with no justification, and it is incumbent on all nations to ensure that Putin and his government are met with severe consequences,'' Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said in a statement. "Putin must understand that such aggression will not stand.

"The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO allies against any further Russian belligerence. The alliance is strong and united. And the U.S. government has done an excellent job collecting and disseminating intelligence on Russian plans to make clear that Russia intended this invasion all along and fabricated pretenses to launch it. I'm confident the intelligence community will continue this critical work.''

Pictures from the Russian Attacks on Ukraine

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, said he was praying for the "innocent civilians and military personnel in harm's way in Ukraine.'' But he laid blame for the attack on the Biden administration's failure to create "a stronger deterrence and failing to demonstrate to the world that the United States and our allies are to be respected.''

China called Thursday for talks to resolve the Ukraine crisis and avoided criticizing President Putin’s attack while, in a step that could blunt the impact of Western sanctions, Beijing also approved imports of Russian wheat.

Chinese ties with Russia have grown stronger under President Xi Jinping, who met Putin this month in Beijing. China's multibillion-dollar purchases of Russian gas for its energy-hungry economy have been a lifeline to Putin, who already was under Western sanctions over its 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

China is the only major government to refrain from condemning Putin's attack. But it tempered that by calling for restraint and respect for national sovereignty.

"The unlawful steps Russia is taking against Ukraine are only the beginning,'' Garcia said in a statement. ``China formally annexing and attacking Taiwan is the end state of all of these actions. Taiwan will be in the crosshairs of China if we do not start growing a backbone as a superpower. Until then, the US becomes more vulnerable every day this persists.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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