Ukrainian community rallies in LA demanding end to threats of Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Monday, February 21, 2022
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The local Ukrainian community made their voices heard Sunday, rallying outside the federal building in Westwood in a call to end the growing threat of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The local Ukrainian community made their voices heard Sunday, rallying outside the federal building in Westwood in a call to end the growing threat of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"It is a deliberate challenge to Ukrainian independence, and Ukrainian sovereignty," said Laryssa Reifel, president of Los Angeles Ukrainian Culture Center. "And we desire that western democracies stand up, and support Ukraine in its effort to stave off this Russian aggression."

In eastern Ukraine, there are more worrying signs that Russia has no plans to back down. The U.S. and its allies believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking for any reason to justify an invasion.

The White House confirmed Sunday evening that President Biden has agreed to a proposed summit meeting with Putin, but only if a Ukraine invasion doesn't happen.

The proposed meeting was brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The substance of the summit will be prepared by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Russia's foreign minister later in the week.

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In Los Angeles, the local Ukrainian community is extremely worried about the growing tensions.

"All I can do is pray for peace in this situation. I mean, it is one person dictating what's going to happen and that's Putin," said Eugene Novak who attended Sunday's rally.

Russia has denied plans to invade but extended its military drills in Belarus instead of withdrawing its forces. Those who gathered in Westwood say the concern over massive bloodshed is growing every day.

"People understand that Ukraine will fight until the end, and that gives people hope that, you know, even though if Russia does invade Ukraine even further, it will be something that Russia will regret immediately," said protest organizer Mykhailo Lavrys.

U.S. officials say Russia has amassed enough firepower to take the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Local protesters say they know the Ukrainian people are ready to take a stand.