MANHATTAN – Standing on the steps of the Ukrainian Institute of America on the Upper East Side on Friday, a new coalition of local elected officials and community leaders has come together to raise money and supplies for the war-torn country and the millions of refugees fleeing Russia’s relentless bombing campaign.
“The crisis in the Ukraine, precipitated by the violence and unremitting aggression of the Putin regime is horribly shameful,” said New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“The Russian military invasion must be loudly and continually condemned internationally, so that the entire world understands the thuggery against the Ukrainian people,” Seawright added.
The East Side Freedom Square Coalition, which draws its name from a Freedom Square in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which was bombed by Russia on March 1st, leading that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to deliver an emotional, inspiring message in an address.
“Every square of today, no matter what it’s called, is going to be called Freedom Square, in every city of our country,” said President Zelenskyy.
“Nobody is gonna break us.”
On February 24th, after a months-long build up of troops, Russian forces invaded Ukraine under the baseless guise to de-nazify the neighboring nation whose president, Zelenskyy, is Jewish.
Amid a fierce resistance by Ukraine against the occupying army, Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed a vicious bombing campaign decimating cities and slaughtering civilians.
“Today we are gathered at a time when democracy itself is under attack,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has introduced a bill restricting American companies that do business with Russia from receiving any of $600 billion spent this year on federal contracts.
“I just spoke with Tom DiNapoli, our comptroller, yesterday, he is divesting state pension funds from any company that is Russian or is affiliated with the Putin administration,” said New York State Senator Liz Kreuger, who represents the Upper East Side.
Other coalition partners include the East Side WWI Centennial Commemoration, New Democratic Dimensions, Community Board 8, Knickerbocker Grays, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, American Society of Souvenir Francais, Ukranian Institute of America, and the Consulate General of France in New York.
“All of our hearts are breaking for what’s happening in the Ukraine,”said Upper East Side Council Member Julie Menin.
“With millions of Ukrainians being displaced it is up to us, and we know New Yorkers have big hearts.”