HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Ukrainian-Americans and U.S. lawmakers joined together at the Connecticut State Capitol Sunday in a showing of solidarity with Ukraine, as tensions with Russia continue to escalate.

They called this a critical moment for democracies around the world.

Alex Kuzma of the Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation led a crowd concerned for loved ones and strangers overseas.

“We’re here to say no to war, to say no to aggression, to say yes to Ukrainian independence and to say yes to Ukrainian freedom,” Kuzma said. “It would be all too easy for us to give into despair and to give into a feeling of powerlessness, but that’s not the way we Ukrainian-Americans are, it’s not the way our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are.”

Kuzma reflected on the country’s history of oppression from its foreign neighbors, something that’s hard to forget amid the current conflict.

“This is a country that forged its freedom through a series of non-violent revolutions,” Kuzma said.

With that freedom Ukrainian-Americans along with U.S. lawmakers said Ukraine left its impact on places like Connecticut, bringing about brilliant minds of people in aviation, medicine, law, business, and education.
“When people ask, ‘Why does it matter to us here in the State of Connecticut? It matters because of again, all of the wonderful people that do so much every single day in our state,” Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) said.

In order for Ukraine’s independence to remain intact, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the U.S. needs to send more arms to Ukraine and put sanctions on Russia.

“[Vladimir Putin] understands one thing, force, military force or economic force, and the economic force can be crippling, disconnecting his banks from the world financial system, stopping exports of the semi-conductors he needs for his technology,” Blumenthal said.

The hope is to protect our country’s allies from any potential invasion.

“Make sure that the people of Ukraine know whatever happens, we are with them, you are not alone,” Blumenthal said.

As the conflict evolves, those here in Connecticut, will continue to show their support.