Hundreds of people join rally in Bellevue supporting Ukraine as Russia invasion expands

Western Washington joins communities around the world denouncing the attacks against Ukraine and its people. 

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, prompting an exodus of millions of refugees. Sunday, hundreds of supporters joined the Stand in Solidarity with Ukraine rally at Bellevue Downtown Park.

"The destiny of Ukraine is at stake," said Larry Snyder, event coordinator.

"Their fight is our fight," said Bellevue City Council member Janice Zahn.

People of all ages and backgrounds attended the event, as they listened to natives of both countries speak on the invasion.

"It’s heartbreaking. I just cannot understand it and I cannot explain to my kids," said Maria Paramonova, a Russian-American who is against the war.

"Our beautiful country is being destroyed. Our people are being killed, our children are being killed," said Olya Mauer of Ukraine.

Mauer told the crowd she was born in Mariupol, Ukraine, one of the territories under attack.

"We have a long history of being oppressed and even starved. It’s just a power hungry tyrant who is going after us," said Mauer.

She said these rallies help raise awareness about the crisis, as her family is being evacuated from their homeland. 

"Just how personal and painful this has been for us. Even if we’re not there—our souls, our hearts are with our people. So, it’s just really difficult to watch and feel so helpless to not be there to protect, defend our country, to defend our people," said Mauer.

Allies like Paramonova said it’s important to show up, even in these terrifying times, to publicly denounce the deadly war.

"We would like this war stop because there is no right to go to another country and start this war and kill other people," said Paramonova.

As the war continues to divide, rally participants said now is the time to come together and let peace conquer.

"Continue to be a force for good," said Snyder.

Attendees also received information how they can help Ukraine, from donating money and goods to supporting refugees with housing.

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