A vigil for Ukraine in Montpelier spotlights unfolding humanitarian crisis
Casting votes on local ballot measures isn’t the only way Vermonters are participating in democracy this Town Meeting Day.
About three dozen people held a vigil for Ukraine in Montpelier this afternoon.
Sofia Shatkivska, who was born in Ukraine and now lives in Washington County, said it’s been three days since she was last able to make contact with her sister. The last time they spoke, according to Shatkivska, her sister was huddled in the basement with her two young children to take refuge from the bombing outside their home in Ukraine.
On a cold afternoon outside the Montpelier post office, surrounded by friends and well-wishers holding Ukrainian flags and other signs of support, Shatkivska said her country needs help.
“Because people run from their houses and they don’t have any place to be. Mostly babies and mothers. And they don’t have place,” she said.
Shatkivska is urging Vermonters to contribute financial and material support to humanitarian efforts on behalf of Ukraine.
She said she also wants Americans to pay closer attention to the military crisis unfolding in Europe.
“Because it will touch you sometime. I don’t want this, God forbid. But this sort of enemy is worldwide enemy,” she said.
That sentiment was echoed Tuesday by Sarah Seidman, of Middlesex, who said she’s also been unable to make contact with friends who live in Ukraine.
“America is so sheltered and so distant,” Seidman said. “In Europe, 100,000 people were demonstrating in Berlin. They know the danger that’s ahead if we don’t quell this drive for power that Putin has.”
Organizers of Tuesday’s event say they’ll hold be holding vigils in Montpelier every Tuesday and Thursday to call for the end of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A Dartmouth student on being here while his family is in Ukraine
"I just feel guilty — a really deep sense of guilt — that I'm not there and not with them," he said.
Syvash and the other Ukrainian students at Dartmouth say they've been fielding lots of questions from their American classmates about why Russia invaded Ukraine.
"There's no single answer, because this is a very long, ongoing aggression toward Ukraine," he said. "The context is immense."
Vermont is one of many states imposing state-level sanctions against Russia in light of its invasion of Ukraine. Norwich University international relations professor Lasha Tchantouridze discussed U.S. sanctions on Vermont Edition today, and he believes Russia's leaders will not be swayed by these types of actions.
"It sends a clear message to ordinary Russians, Russian citizens: They will be hurt by these sanctions," he said."Russian businesses will be hurt. There's no question about it. What I'm suggesting is, it's not going to hurt the Kremlin and its military machine."
Vermont has halted the sale of Russian-owned brands in liquor stores, and Gov. Phil Scott plans to announce further state sanctions later this week.
Mikaela Lefrak contributed reporting to this story.
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