Ukrainian JC hosted a rally in front of Jersey City’s Katyn Memorial earlier this afternoon as the war with Russia wages on, calling for the U.S. and their allies to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Ukrainian people deserve to have their own land, their own territory. We’re fighting to have our land,” Ukrainian Jersey City President Oksana Condon said.
“New Jersey has the largest Ukrainian community in the whole U.S. So there will be a lot of Ukrainian people, mostly women and children coming to the United States and we need to support them too. They are coming without anything. They’re coming just with their passports.”
She said she knows one mother and child fleeing Kiev as their father fights in the war, also noting the Ukraine has sought stronger western ties.
“The majority voted for Ukraine to join the EU. I believe we deserve to join the EU. We’re democratic, European country,” Condon stated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been against the Ukraine joining the European Union (EU) and NATO since their predecessor were against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Board of Education Trustee Natalia Ioffe noted that people in the capital of Kiev are living there as the bombing continues.
“There’s a lot of anxiety as you can imagine. Most of us here have not slept in the last seven days,” she explained.
She also said they gathered at the Katyn Memorial since it “is dedicated to one of the greatest war crimes of the Soviet history and World War II history when Polish POWs were treacherously executed by the Soviets.”
“We now have an unfortunate repeat of that same mentality and tactic when Russian Federation decided to invade Ukraine.”
She noted that in 2013, Ukraine was in favor of joining the EU but Ioffe said they were under “strict Russian control” at the time.
“Ukraine has been fighting this war for sovereignty, this recent modern war for sovereignty for the past eight years. It’s going through horrific turmoil. Right now it is willing to die for the same values that America was built on,” stated Ioffe.
Furthermore, Ioffe recalled the Budapest memorandum of 1994 when Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons and disarm entirely in exchange for the assurance of safety from Russia and the United States.
“Ukraine stands ready with every tree and rock and man, woman, and child ready to fight. Help us cover our skies. We will do the rest. How good is the American promise of 1994?,” exclaiming that bombs are killing children and destroying historic landmarks and infrastructure.
“The invader does not care for history. They do not value artifacts. They certainly don’t value people, neither their own and certainly not others.”
She also called for the United States and its allies to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a sentiment that was repeated often at the event.
Condon said they also value, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and democracy, quoting the American Declaration of Independence.
Furtherore, Ioffe said neutrality now would be akin to the neutrality endorsed by western nations in the face of aggression from Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
“They purposefully target radioactive resources. They don’t care if it brings an ecological catastrophe to Europe.”
Codon said they are helping coordinate refugee assistance throughout Ukraine and can help Americans aid relatives.
She noted many are hiding in basements designed for the storage of potatoes, as well as that women are giving birth in basements and subways due to the turmoil caused by the war.
“It’s scary,” she stated.
Condon also called for the arming of Ukraine with Patriot Missiles to shoot down Russian planes, as well as for the for the freezing of the assets of Russian oligarchs and boycotting Russian businesses.
Ioffe spoke well of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rallying people during broadcasts.
“We know there is a threat on his life. We know there is a threat on his family’s life. He knows this too,” she said.
“We need to stand up. We’re not just fighting our war. We’re fighting for democracy.” Ukrainian community leader Oksana Bats, the president of UNWLA branch 143, said.
Condon said that while she understands why people are afraid of Putin, but it’s time for people to come together and defeat him.
“This man is the only man who terrifies the whole entire world. Every single one of us has anxiety and are stressed because one person and one person who has a button who is threatening to press it and to destroy our world,” she asserted.
“How insane is it that one evil person can do this? Hitler was trying to destroy Jewish people. This is exactly what Putin is trying to do to Ukraine. But we’re much stronger.”