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By Matthew Manosh

Scroll down to links to videos from vigils

March 1, 2022 (San Diego’s East County) -- Local Ukrainian-Americans gathered in demonstrations these past few days in solidarity with their nation, which is under attack from Russian forces. Thursday night,  a prayer vigil was held in Santee on a vacant lot, where there are plans to build a Ukrainian Catholic Church. Father Yurii Sas of St. John the Baptizer Catholic Church in San Diego led his congregation in prayer and song, asking for God to protect his people in the Ukraine:

 “...But you who know all things, understand…it will be impossible to hold their multitudes unless you show us your help….help us oh God, our savior and deliver the land of Ukraine for the sake of the glory of your name. That the enemy may not say ‘their God has forsaken them and there is no one to deliver and save them’. But let every nation understand that you are our God, and we your people are always protected under your dominion.”

View video of Santee vigil

Vasylya, Father Yurii’s wife, explained that her parents reside in the town of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, two miles away from one of the many airports bombed in the war’s initial attacks. After the explosions, their neighbor asked to use their basement as a shelter, fearing the worst was yet to come.

Some carried American and/or Ukrainian flags.  One woman holding a U.S. flag told ECM, “I’m holding the United States flag because I love my country, I love America, but I also love my native Ukraine, equally.”  She said of the invasion, “I can’t believe that this is happening in the 21st century, by a lunatic madman,” adding that she feels “shock and heartbreak.”

Many were frustrated at the start of the war feeling like there was more that the world leaders could have done in response.

“Stupidly weak, they are nothing, nothing. There’s a lot more they could have done. It’s a weak administration and that’s what Putin took advantage of…a strictly political decision… Time will tell,” said Nadia Skop, a local Ukrainian woman said when asked about the sanctions imposed thus far by the United States.

On Friday, another demonstration took place in Balboa Park in front of the House of Ukraine. While on the other side of the world their capital city of Kyiv was under siege by the invading Russian army, there were worries here that Kyiv would not last the night. But the brave Ukranians, including the military and civilians who have taken up arms continue to fight on the streets protecting their city and nation in an act of defiance to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.

Participants sang the Star Spangled Banner, America’s national anthem, and Ukrainian patriotic songs.

View video (Ukrainian songs); View video (Star Spangled Banner).

Since these rallies, America and our European allies have turned to more drastic sanctions against Russia, imposing sanctions directly upon President Putin and several of his key allies as well as freezing assets in Russia’s central bank, as ECM reported. Economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and our European allies are poised to cripple the Russian economy. The U.S. and its allies have expelled some Russian banks from S.W.I.F.T. , a global financial messaging service.

The effects of these measures are beginning to be felt in Russia, causing their stock market to close, while the ruble dropped 40% earlier today.

 Further action has included banning Russian planes from entering the airspace over the EU and Canada. Even Switzerland has forgone its historic neutrality by taking actions similar to those imposed by the EU.

The EU for the first time ever authorized weapons sales to a nation at war, with Germany and Sweden first to send weapons to Ukraine. Those included anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.  NATO has deployed defensive air and land military resources to protect Eastern European members from any further Russian aggression.

Across the globe, including in Russia, many have taken to the streets in demonstrations asking governments to help put an end to the war and a stop to Russia’s war machine. The world is supporting and standing in solidarity with Ukraine, a nation under siege.

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