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As Russian forces continue their attack on Ukraine, residents of Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood are rallying against the invasion and praying for their families overseas.
Students at Saint Nicholas Elementary marched from school to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Chicago for a special service Thursday. Many of the children present had watched the developments abroad out of fear of their family members who live in Ukraine.
An eighth-grader told FOX 32 Chicago that her cousins — around the same age as her — were in Ukraine and ready to defend her.
“In my opinion, it’s very scary, I don’t know how they feel since they live there and go to school there,” the student said. “Now they have to do what they can to stay alive.”
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Family members also shared cellphone videos of the explosions that rocked the country during the full-scale invasion.
“All Ukrainians stayed up all night watching the news,” said Geri Abramiuk, director of the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Chicago. “It’s very, very sad.”
A US defense official said the attack began with a Russian missile barrage of about 100 intermediate-range, short-range and cruise missiles from land, air and sea, according to a report released Thursday by the Department of Defense.
The official noted that Russian forces were in the initial phase of the invasion of Ukraine and were attacking through three corridors. There was fighting within 20 miles of the center of the capital Kiev, as well as fighting around the eastern city of Kharkiv and in the south of the country.
“It is our assessment that [Russian forces] have every intention of decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance, which would explain these first steps towards Kyiv,” the anonymous official said in the report.
On Thursday afternoon in Chicago, a rally was held at Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church.
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Those present expressed concern and anger. Some have called for tougher penalties than the news announced by President Biden earlier on Thursday, the station reported.
“How much more Ukrainian blood does Ukraine have to shed to make them pay? The time has come to unleash the sanctions, to stop the war. Stop the Russian economy. Today the United Nations must act,” he said. said Pavlo Bandriwsky, Vice President. of the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America Illinois Division, according to FOX 32 Chicago.
Biden said the sanctions, in coordination with a coalition of other nations, would target more big Russian banks and make it harder for Russia to do business in dollars, euros, pounds and yen. The sanctions will also target Russian elites and limit borrowing opportunities for 13 Russian entities and companies. There will also be “new limitations” on what can be exported to Russia, Biden said.
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The Chicago community has been protesting for months. A vigil will be held Thursday evening to honor the lives lost during the invasion.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report