PHILADELPHIA - Members of Philadelphia's Ukrainian community gathered Thursday to rally for peace as Russia's invasion of their homeland continued for a second day.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks from three sides in an attack that could rewrite the global post-Cold War security order. Ukraine’s government pleaded for help as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee.
Members of the First Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church in Northeast Philadelphia gathered for a special night of prayer.
"It's kind of like this state of not knowing what to do next," Pastor Denis Sichkar said. "It’s devastating to me very worrisome."
Igor, a church member, said he was born in Ukraine during the Soviet area and it's been disturbing to watch his countrymen's independence come under attack.
"I have always been for freedom and always been for an independent Ukraine," Igor said. "It’s been very good for the last 20 years when Ukraine was independent but all of a sudden independence in great jeopardy."
Scores of Ukrainians, civilians and service members alike, were killed in the first full day of fighting, and the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv appeared to be increasingly threatened. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government had information that "subversive groups" were encroaching on the city, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv "could well be under siege."
Ukrainian-born Yuriy Shumylo told FOX 29's Jennifer Joyce that some of his cousins fled the carnage by escaping to Poland. His father couldn't bear to watch the headlines.
"My dad, I think he had a panic attack in the morning with everything going on so he didn't go to work we took him to the hospital because he couldn’t remember asking me if war is actually happening," Shumylo said.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin "chose this war" and had exhibited a "sinister" view of the world in which nations take what they want by force. Other nations also announced sanctions, or said they would shortly.
Support for Ukraine is evident around most major U.S. cities with many organizing marches and rallies for support. In Philadelphia, a group of supporters gathered on the Art Museum steps with signs and flags.
Several explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early Friday as Russian forces pressed on with their assault.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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