“We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” said Rev. Robert Moore, executive director of the Coalition for Peace.
When the drivers who expressed support were buzzing, on March 3 from the crowd of people gathered in Palmer Square in Princeton, chanted “No war in Ukraine.”
On both sides of Nassau Street in front of Nassau Presbyterian Church and Tiger Palmer Square, residents from across Mercer County held placards reading “Support Ukraine,” “Don’t War,” “Stop Putin, Stop the War,” and “Putin Go.” Home ”at the Vigil of Peace in Ukraine, organized by the Coalition for Peace.
More than 200 people gathered for the vigil, many of them held the Ukrainian flag and wrapped it around their shoulders.
“Stop this brutal dictator,” shouted one of those present.
The beginning of a large-scale invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, and fighting continues across the country for the second week.
According to national figures, more than 150,000 troops gathered around Ukraine before the invasion began, with reports reported that as of March 4, 90% of the assembled Russian military had entered Ukraine.
“We are trying to convey to the people that this war in Ukraine is dangerous for the whole world. This is a problem not only of Ukrainians, it is a problem for everyone on this planet, because we are dealing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, ”the participant of the vigil Volha Reptushenko said. “We are dealing with a monster. Ukrainians are fighting for everyone who is here on the street, who drives these cars and enjoys this beautiful weather. “
Before the invasion, Reptushenko was able to bring her parents to America from Ukraine. She said she believed that the war in Ukraine would take place when Russian troops broke through to the Ukrainian border.
“I trusted President Joe Biden, I trusted British intelligence and everything that was said. That’s why my parents are here. They came on February 13, ”she said. “I didn’t want them to be there. I didn’t want to wait until the end of the Olympics. We trusted our government and knew we needed to protect our family. “
Western Windsor resident Eugenia Brusilovsky said she did not expect the war in Ukraine to take place more than eight days ago.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t. I thought [Putin] will hang this threat, but it didn’t actually authorize the launch, but I was wrong. Many of my friends were also wrong, ”she said. “This man is a criminal and everyone should know he is a criminal. The war will be long, bloody, serious. “
Brusilovsky added that she was somewhat encouraged by the support Ukraine was receiving.
“No, because it may be too little, they need people to help them,” she said. “We understand that the army cannot intervene, but what I heard today is very encouraging that there are many volunteers from European countries, and it is huge. If they have people and weapons, they have freedom. “
Vigil participants in front of the Palmer Square Tiger marched through Nassau Street to join others in front of Nassau Presbyterian Church. People together surrounded the steps of the church with battery-powered candles and chanted “What do we want? Peace. If we want that? Now.
Andrea Popel, a first-generation Ukrainian living in Pennington, said it was a problem that would affect everyone and affect them.
“What is happening in Ukraine is really personal for me. I still have a family there. “Every morning I deal with my family to see if everything is okay,” she said. “I think what Putin is doing is just awful. They say it’s a Russian invasion, but it’s Putin against Ukraine, and not Russia against Ukraine. I feel bad for the Russian people and for the situation they are in. “
Ash was one of many Ukrainian-Americans who attended the vigil. She did not expect a war in Ukraine, but said she was not surprised by Putin.
“I am concerned that things are getting worse. It is bombing schools, hospitals and civilian areas, ”Popel said.
A resident of Hamilton, Artsyom Kirsh, waved the Ukrainian flag during the vigil when he joined others.
“My family is suffering in Ukraine. They need air support and boots on the ground. It is too late to do anything and say that there are no boots on the ground, but our relatives are dying every day, and they need help today, ”he said. “I expected them to be going to invade, spending more than $ 1 billion a day to stockpile their troops at the border. It didn’t make sense for them not to go. “
Kirsch added that something needed to be done a month ago, not a week ago.
“I think it is too late for additional weapons to arrive in Kyiv. There is a real chance that they will surround Kyiv, ”he said. “I don’t think Ukraine is getting enough support. I think both a place for financial donations and military support are needed instead of standing by and watching. ”
On the steps of the Presbyterian Church of Nassau in the hands of some present were sunflowers, which are the national flower of Ukraine.
Attendees will hear a story from a woman from Ukraine who recalls a tragic event in Luhansk, Ukraine, about 20 guys aged 18 to 20 who wanted to defend their village and were all killed after heading to the park.
“Please, America, help us in Ukraine,” she said.
She was followed by the pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Church of Trent, Yuri Oras, who added that when the war broke out, American bishops asked him to help them with translations, and Ukrainian bishops called how they could help them.
“I was surprised by what all the Ukrainian bishops said. The first thing they asked us to do was pray, ”he said. “They said please pray for us and our people. Then they said the second thing, it was to speak out. “
Aras ended his speech in Ukrainian with the word “Glory to Ukraine”.
The vigil ended with everyone singing “This Little Light of Mine”, holding Ukrainian flags, posters and sunflowers.