On Monday night, protestors gathered in Hollywood to show their support of Ukraine.
By Natalie Metcalf and Alua Karatay, Staff Writers
At the corner of Cahuenga and Sunset Boulevard on Feb. 28, over 150 Los Angeles residents protested the war in Ukraine and Putin’s actions over the past week.
Outside the CNN building in Hollywood, activists gathered in support of Ukraine for a seventh day of opposing the troops of the Russian Federation. Protestors waved the country's flag, chanting “shield the sky” and “stop the war” while hugging each other and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. Demonstrators blasted Ukrainian music through loudspeakers and drivers showed their support by honking. The Van Gogh Museum across the street passed out sunflowers – Ukraine’s national flower.
“We need NATO to hear us. We need to shield the sky,” said Julia Vlasenko, the event organizer. “[Russia is] bombing our oil base, they captured our nuclear plants and made them their army bases, and they also shot our natural gas pipeline [which] affected air all over Europe.”
Vlasenko was born in Ukraine and with family and friends still in Kyiv, she has watched the war closely.
The “Shield the Sky'' protest demands immediate action from NATO, an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 countries. As a partner country, Ukraine could eventually become a part of the organization. The demonstration called for a no-fly zone in Ukraine and immediate action from NATO and U.S. bombers, fighters, interceptors and air-to-air systems.
According to Polish Minister of Defense Mariusz Blashchak, Poland sent Ukraine a convoy of ammunition trucks to help the warring nation defend itself.
Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, launching a coordinated strike across the country consisting of various munitions such as cruise missiles and heavy artillery. Putin put his nuclear arsenal on high alert the next Sunday, threatening that “whoever tries to hinder us” will see consequences “you have never seen in history.”
This year, Russia has 5,977 nuclear warheads in its inventory. According to The Bulletin of the Atomic Arsonal, 1,588 of those missiles are deployed on heavy bomber bases. Russia and the U.S own almost 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads.
“Throughout our history, we’ve learned this lesson when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” said President Joe Biden in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.
The combined number of civilian and military casualties in Ukraine as of Feb. 27 is 367 deaths and 1,684 injured. According to the UN, more than 800,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled during Russia’s invasion. As of Wednesday, 453,000 refugees arrived in Poland. Russia reported 500 of their soldiers dead.
Protestor Oleksander Straukov has two children in Ukraine right now, an eight-year-old and a 12-year-old.
“[We are here] to make a statement,” said Straukov. “We want the government to help Ukraine.”
Russia’s neighbor to the west, Belarus, has prepared its troops on high alert. Meanwhile, countries continue to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation. In Biden’s address on Tuesday, he stated that the U.S. sky will be closed for Russian aircrafts.
The 46th president announced a second package of sanctions against Russia in a week due to its invasion of Ukraine. The first package, adopted after Russia recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics, was more likely to be moderate, the second included more stringent sanctions.
“[Ukrainians] need support from everyone,” said protestor Oleksandr Melskyi. “We just want the world to know the truth and unite against Russia.”