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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Russia Ukraine Rally Feb 24 4

Madison residents walk around the Capitol in a rally marking the one year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2024. 

Rally for Ukraine marks second anniversary since Russian invasion

Event organizers called on Wisconsin legislators to support aid for Ukraine during the third year of the conflict.

Friends of Ukraine Madison held a rally Saturday on the Wisconsin State Capitol steps to recognize the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ruslana Westerlund, the group’s president, said the event was a commemoration of Ukrainian people’s resilience and a time to honor the individuals who gave their lives for the freedom of Ukraine. 

Ivanna Dzenkiv represented the first Ukrainian School of Madison in Dane County’s history. Students recited Ukrainian poems at the rally. 

“It’s a very critical moment, two years of this war. If Ukraine can get support now, it means that democracy and freedom are being supported and have a chance to win. If not, then the tyranny and dictatorship is going to take over,” Dzenkiv said. “We really all have to unite right now.” 

Westerlund implored federal lawmakers to pass legislation supporting Ukraine and issued a call to action for Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. 

“I call upon Speaker Johnson, and indeed all of us, to recognize the urgency and the significance of the moment we are confronted with today— a moment that demands action, compassion and leadership in support of Ukraine,” Westerlund said.

The U.S. Senate passed a national security package Feb. 13 with a 70-29 majority. If passed in the House, the bill will provide $60.1 billion in aid to Ukraine to use against Russia’s offensive.

Speaker Johnson rejected the bill’s advancement in the house, releasing a statement Feb. 12, citing a lack of domestic border protection motivating his decision to stall voting.  

“House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border,” Johnson said.

Since the start of the war on Feb. 24, 2022, Ukraine has recaptured 54% of occupied territory and front lines remain stable, according to the Council on Foreign Relations

President Joe Biden announced 500 new sanctions against Russia Friday to pressure the country to withdraw from Ukrainian territory. 

Westerlund said it is important to facilitate support for Ukraine, quoting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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“Will Ukrainians survive without U.S. aid? Yes, we will, but not all of us,” Westerlund said.

Friends of Ukraine Madison will hold a panel discussion Feb. 26 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Pyle Center in room 332. Westerlund will speak alongside University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Oksana Stoychuk and Ph.D student Jim Gringas about the war and responses from local Wisconsin communities.

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