New Yorkers gathered at a large Midtown protest on Saturday raging against the merciless Russian war machine Saturday as the world continues to watch the invasion of Ukraine in horror.
While a few Ukrainian supporters peppered themselves outside the United Nations at noon in hopes of inspiring further aid to the embattled Eastern European country, hundreds more flooded the heart of the city in Times Square one hour later.
Prior to joining fellow protesters in Times Square, Olena rallied outside of the United Nations to show support for loved ones still in the war zone.
“I was born in the Ukraine like my husband, like my kids, like my whole family. We came to the United States 26 years ago and have lived here ever since then. My brother and mother right now live under temporarily occupied territory in Kherson. Today there was a great rally in Kherson on occupied territory not being afraid of Russian killers, protesting Russian invasion and screaming that they are Ukrainian, Russians go home. We don’t want you here,” Olena said. “What’s really going on in Ukraine: the shelling, the ballistic rockets hitting the civilians, the green corridors they are kind of establishing for people to leave being attacked by the Russian military, and my brother is afraid to use this green corridor because he says they can shell us.”
Olena says her brother sends her videos of the chaos inside Russian controlled Kherson. She says the Ukraine people continue to right back and show unity, even in the darkest of circumstances. Olena uses President Volodomyr Zelenskiy as an example of this, as a man that she says once divided the country but now has become a national hero.
“I had thought Poroshenko would have been probably better, but [Zelenskyy] was elected, and I was looking at him with some skepticism until last Thursday. He just rose really, really to a statesman. To a brave, smart, caring person, and he’s very popular there, they respect him. Ukraine just united around him, he is the voice of Ukraine and he’s the face of Ukraine,” Olena said.
President Zelenskyy met with American senators and congress members Saturday in a further plea for aid. Meanwhile, an army of New Yorkers took their condemnation of the now over week-long war to the streets of Midtown.
Waving the gold and blue Ukrainian colors, hundreds beset Duffy Square with raw, unbridled emotion. The young and old chanted “Stop Russia!” as a convoy of vehicles zoomed by the sea of protesters honking their horns in support.
Although many are raising their voices in the call to impose even greater restrictions on bloodthirsty President Vladimir Putin, “Mad Vlad” responded Saturday, according to Reuters, stating that he will see placing a no-fly zone over Russia as entering the war.
NATO and the United States have both ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine for that very reason, as it would put them at risk of entering a direct conflict with Putin and Russia’s large nuclear arsenal.