A small crowd of about 15 people gathered on the Jackson Town Square Sunday to show their solidarity with Ukraine, which is currently enduring a full-scale military invasion by Russia. Most of the group held blue and yellow signs—the colors of Ukraine’s national flag—and several cars driving by honked to show their support. Three of the protesters were also originally from Ukraine, including Jaroslav Tymouch of Lviv, a city located in the western part of the country.
“We bought the trip to Jackson before all this broke out—the war—and we just came here. We saw people here protesting and definitely we decided to stop by and join,” he said. “It’s a must so people know what’s going on in Ukraine.”
Speaking further about the military operations, which Russia appears to have been preparing for for weeks, Tymouch said he hopes that his fellow countrymen continue to defend Ukraine valiantly. The total number of casualties thus far in the conflict is difficult to determine, but human and financial losses are beginning to mount.
“Freedom is never without bloodshed,” Tymouch said.
Another demonstrator, Vasyl Baranovski, is from the northern part of Ukraine, near Kyiv. He said he has sisters, nieces, nephews and other relatives still living in the area, and that he worries for their wellbeing.
“This aggression from the Russians [has] been occurring for the past 300 years,” he said. “They’re trying to make Ukraine disappear.”
Civilians across Ukraine continue to fight back against the invading Russian forces, especially in Kyiv, though negotiations are being explored as of press time. The United States and its allies have responded with economic sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-profile Russian officials and banks and by providing military aid to Ukraine. The European Union has also closed its airspace to Russian aircraft, and Germany committed to providing key anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles in recent days.
In Jackson, another larger demonstration was scheduled to be held Monday evening at 5:00 p.m., after Sunday’s protest sparked more organically. Baranovski said he was surprised to see small towns in the U.S. showing their support for his country.
“I’m so happy that you guys are not tolerant to what’s going on in Ukraine,” he said. “We really appreciate [you] for everything that you are doing here.”
Tymouch, who held a sign that read, “Putin. Hague is waiting,” a reference to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, echoed those sentiments. He asked Americans to continue to make noise about what’s going on abroad, and also to give financially if possible.
“We’re not happy. We are free, fighting people, and we’re not going to give it [our country] away,” he said.
Monday’s protest was visible through Jackson’s live-streamed street camera network and tourism website, seejh.com. Upon learning this, all three Ukrainian protesters began sending the link to friends and family back home.