WASHINGTON — Crowds of Ukraine supporters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday to call for more aid from the United States as the Russian invasion continues to bring devastation and tragedy to the country.
Many waved blue and yellow flags while others held signs showing support for Ukraine or opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin as they listened to speeches from leaders, including members of Congress and Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova.
Much of the rally focused on a call for more American aid as Ukraine continues to face deadly bombings and attacks every day.
In a virtual address to the crowd on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said assistance to Ukraine could help stop the war from spreading to other areas.
"This is only the beginning for Russia on the Ukrainian land. Russia is trying to defeat the freedom of all people in Europe," he said. "The world must stop the war. I thank everyone who acts in support of Ukraine.”
Diana Surzhko listened in the crowd as cool temperatures led to some folks using their flags as blankets.
After moving away to America from Ukraine when she was a teenager, Surzhko decided to travel down from Boston this weekend to be part of the gathering at the Lincoln Memorial.
"Most of my relatives stayed in Ukraine. They were in a bomb shelter for almost a month. My aunt and my cousins just evacuated to Poland and my uncle stayed back to fight," she said. "It’s life and death. There’s nothing more serious than that.”
Iryna Khvostovska stood nearby and held a sign calling for the end of the war in her home country.
She said her dad stayed in Lviv when the fighting broke out last month and now she worries on a daily basis about what could happen to him.
On Sunday, she said bringing her homemade sign and making it out to the rally was a simple way to show support during such a tumultuous time for Ukraine.
"It’s very difficult because you can’t do anything," Khvostovska said. "This is all I can do is be here.”
Khvostovska echoed many of the speeches on Sunday by calling for more military assistance from the United States and for airspace to be closed off in Ukraine.
Some areas were barely holding on, she said, and aid needed to come soon.
"It’s extremely important for their survival and to make it through," Khvostovska said.
Rostyslav Goi, whose parents live in Ukraine, wrapped himself in his country flag on Sunday and said his friends are on the front lines fighting the war.
He hoped the rally on Sunday showed others the danger from Russia and the threat to other countries if Ukraine ever falls.
"Everybody came here to say stop Russia, stop Putin," Goi said. "He’s not fighting Ukraine only. He’s fighting democracy. He's fighting against humanity.”