The Ukrainian Student Association (USA) at the University of Connecticut held a protest on Wednesday, March 2, to raise awareness for the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Over a dozen protestors, including members of the Slavic Cultural Association (SCA), held signs and flags on Fairfield Way, calling for an end to the war.
“Hands off Ukraine!” one sign read. “Putin lies, but Ukraine never dies,” said another. “If Ukraine falls, who is next?” read a third.
The demands of the protestors included increased shipment of medical supplies and equipment to Ukraine, the declaration of a no-fly zone over the country and aid for Ukrainian students at UConn impacted by the invasion. USA acknowledged that currently Ukrainian-American students on campus have not received communication from UConn administration.
Victoria Kostour, an eighth-semester molecular and cell biology and physiological sciences major and president of the USA, demanded action.
“What is happening right now in Ukraine is unimaginable,” Kostour said. “I have family members in Ukraine who are terrified of the war. I spend hours each day, sometimes with little sleep, trying to see whether my relatives are in danger.”
Other members of the USA spoke of their own experiences as Ukrainians, all of them saying they are deeply concerned for relatives who are among the almost 900,000 civilians fleeing as refugees, according to The Guardian.
The invasion began on Feb. 24 after Russian president Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of separatist states in eastern Ukraine, which receive Russian military and economic support, according to Business Insider.
Since the invasion began, Ukrainian troops have stalled the Russian offensive, and initial casualties in the first week total approximately 6,000 Russian and 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead, with as many Ukrainian civilians reported dead, according to an article from the Wall Street Journal.
“It is important to remember that the Russian people do not want this war either, and we hold nothing against them,” Sonia Zazulak, sixth-semester molecular and cellular biology major and marine biology minor, and the secretary of the USA, said.
“This is Putin’s war, and there are protests across Russia against his actions.”Sonia Zazulak, sixth-semester molecular and cellular biology major and secretary of the USA
“Ukraine has always faced invaders and occupiers, and we have always survived. We need your help more than ever,” Zazulak said.
USA members passed out fliers featuring QR codes to organizations collecting money for Ukrainian refugees, news outlets trying to dispel online misinformation about the conflict and methods to contact representatives to encourage them to provide more support to Ukraine.
“Imagine a town like Waterbury or New Haven, where you grew up,” said Robert Miller, a sixth-semester MCB major and the president of SCA. “The houses in your neighborhood are on fire, your high school walls are covered in bullet holes. There are dead and wounded people in the streets. This is what Ukrainians are dealing with now.”
The USA and SCA announced a fundraiser to be held in the Student Union on Monday, March 7 to sell pins to raise money for training and supplying paramedics in Ukraine. They also voiced their intent to host another protest on campus next week.