By Greta Serrin, Brittany Hope
SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — For the second Sunday in a row, thousands of people gathered at the California State Capitol in support of Ukraine.
Dozens of community leaders and lawmakers across party lines were in attendance, united in their solidarity for the country going into its second week of attacks from Russia.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said his city will “welcome any Ukrainian who needs refuge in our community.”
The crowd’s main message for U.S. government officials was their demand for a no-fly zone to be created over Ukraine.
Dmytro Kushneruk, the consul general of Ukraine in San Francisco, said he is working with Gov. Gavin Newsom to give Ukraine bulletproof vests from California’s law enforcement, as well as aircraft.
KCRA 3 reached out to the governor’s office about these discussions late Sunday night. At the latest update, we have not received a response.
Brig. Gen. Peter Cross, representing the California Military Department, said the California National Guard has been partnered with Ukraine for decades.
“Every man and woman is ready to serve if called to duty, should they be called, in support of Ukraine,” he announced to the crowd.
“I’m begging the government of the U.S. as well as NATO,” Simon Buniak told KCRA 3. “We have to protect them.”
Buniak was born in Ukraine. He’s urging world leaders to stop purchasing Russian oil, saying, “Oil and gas is full of Ukrainian blood.”
Many at the rally have family and loved ones stuck in Ukraine.
“My biggest fear right now is waking up one day and none of my family being alive.” Rachel Skots said. “Trying to call or contact them and no one answers.”
Karina Kudina Pate’s family lives in western Ukraine.
She said they chose to stay, despite the violence, to help others fleeing the attacks.
“They actually opened up the doors of the church my dad is a pastor of and they’re hosting refugees,” she said.
The latest rally at the state Capitol comes as Russian forces stepped up their attacks overnight in cities across Ukraine.
Officials tell said a second attempt to evacuate besieged civilians from Mariupol collapsed Sunday amid renewed Russian shelling.
On Saturday, California Rep. John Garamendi, a senior member of the armed services committee spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the latest with Russia’s invasion.
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