On Saturday, February 26, a large group of people gathered at the Courthouse and marched up State Street to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. People draped in Ukrainian flags held up signs with messages like “Pray 4 Peace” and “Stop Putin” as others watched and photographed the rally. The protesters were led by children waving both American and Ukrainian flags. The rally ended with the group standing on the steps of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to take a photo and be led in a prayer for Ukraine. As many around the globe call for peace, the threat of war is high for the many nations that have found themselves intertwined in the web that Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast.
Early in the morning on Thursday, February 24, Russian shelling began in Ukraine. According to CBS News, it is believed that Russia has launched more than 160 missiles as forces move into Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian officials have said that they are attempting to fight a “full-scale invasion” from Russia at this time.
The invasion comes after President Biden made comments on Wednesday, February 23, accusing Putin of prompting “a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
In the past month, the threat of a Russian invasion has been weighing heavily on the minds of people across the world as Russia continued to position over 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders. On Wednesday, the day before the invasion occurred, Putin claimed that he had no plans to invade. However, moments before Russian shelling began in Ukraine, Putin made a statement that he had “decided to conduct a special military operation,” aimed at “demilitarization and denazification” of the neighboring nation. Putin has defended the attack as a means of supporting ethnic Russians within Ukraine.
Ukrainians have rushed to defend their country, reportedly streaming into a makeshift recruitment center to serve as back up for their country’s military forces. One military commander said that thousands have reported for duty, many of whom have no military experience. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at least 137 people were killed in just the first day of the attacks. Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons and a very capable military force makes any mediation or attempts at diplomacy a risk for the countries involved. As the crisis unfolds, many countries have been left to wonder what the right response is, and if, based on the consequences Putin has threatened, it is worth the risk of further intervention.
[Image Credit Mary Moses]