Community members gathered on Wednesday to show support for Ukraine

A protest in support of Ukraine formed outside of Parks Library on Wednesday.

Claire Hoppe

Students and community members banded together on Wednesday outside of Parks Library to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“There might not be a Ukraine tomorrow,” said Solomiya Kovalenko, a sophomore in statistics at Iowa State.

Kovalenko was one of many individuals who spoke at the protest. The protest, which lasted approximately three hours, featured multiple speakers from many different walks of life, some from Ukraine and some not.

The protest formed in response to the recent invasions and bombings by Russia on Ukrainian land. The attacks on Ukraine have sparked a worldwide response of support for Ukraine and its people. While it remains unclear what the next days and weeks will bring, according to Andriy Palasyuk, a Ukrainian-born Ames laboratory scientist, a war involving the United States is right around the corner.

“…[It will be] one to two years before you grab your rifles,” Palasyuk said.

Palasyuk said war for the U.S. is impending. Shalika Khindurangala, an Iowa State career services specialist, said Ukraine is already past this point.

“This is a full-blown war,” Khindurangala said. “Everything is at stake now.”

According to Khindurangala, Iowa specifically has a close relationship with Ukraine. Khindurangala said that Iowa’s soil shares its richness with the soil from Ukraine. Because of this, Khindurangala warns that Iowa could be directly affected.

While Khindurangala said Iowa and Ukraine are connected by their soil, Jonathan Wickert, the vice president and provost at Iowa State, discussed how Iowa and Ukraine are also connected through people. According to him, many Ukrainians and Russians call Iowa State home.

“In this case, we have faculty and staff from Ukraine, Russian faculty, as well, who fled,” Wickert said.

Wickert, who attended the protest, said he wanted to show support for Ukraine. According to him, this was largely influenced by having hosted a Ukrainian foreign exchange student. He said that his family worries about the student and hopes they are safe.

“This is an important geopolitical event,” Wickert said. “It’s important for students to be aware and to share their views.”

As speakers continued to share their views and opinions on the topic, one lone man walked around the crowd of people holding a sign in support of Russia. This man was Yurry Gol.

“Interestingly enough, there’s nothing that you can quote from me because I’m the voice of reason,” Gol said.

According to him, the U.S. should stay out of the conflicts overseas.

“Specifically the U.S. has no right to comment on Russian actions because of 20 years of uninvited aggression from the U.S. worldwide,” Gol said.

Palasyuk spoke on the impending violence and aggression facing the U.S. According to him, the world is facing the same situation it faced in 1939: the beginning of a world war. He said bombs will fall on American heads within the next one to two years if history repeats itself.

Kovalenko said it is important Americans care about other countries because the U.S. is the most prosperous nation in the world. Kovalenko also told spectators that change is possible before the situation escalates to this degree.

“As Ukrainians and Americans, we can unite,” Kovalenko said. “You can be the change.”

Svitlana Zbarska, an undergraduate research program coordinator at Iowa State, said supporting Ukraine financially or posting photos of the Ukrainian flag on social media can help.

“Military way is not the way to resolve conflict,” Zbarska said. “Civil people are dying. Kids are dying.”

Organizers of the protest offered petition and donation links.

According to Zbarska, there will be another protest on Sunday in front of the capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa, at 1 p.m.