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Big Island Community Rallies in Support of Ukraine

By Tiffany DeMasters
February 28, 2022, 7:29 AM HST
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Sixty people gathered along Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona on Sunday, Feb. 27, for a “Stand with Ukraine” demonstration, protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kari Lepouttre

The purpose of the protest was to show solidarity with the European nation and bring awareness to the public about the invasion of a free country, said Kari Lepouttre, one of the demonstrators.

In an email to Big Island Now, Lepouttre said many people had the event were Ukrainian or lived in Ukraine at one time, adding many still have family in Ukraine who could be refugees from Russia’s invasion, which occurred on Feb. 24.

Lepouttre said their gathering was also meant to help people understand the connection and possible impacts the war will have on the lives of Big Island residents, including the possible increase in gas prices and goods in general due to supply issues and sanctions.

“Without a viable and speedy solution this will impact the world order for some time and begin affecting our lives – we are all connected and the world is a small place,” Lepouttre stated. “Our local community values peace and Hoʻo pono pono. The use of peaceful dialogue to resolve disputes and this kind of precedent in the world certainly challenges this on a global level.”

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According to an Associated Press story, Russian and Ukrainian officials met for talks Monday amid high hopes but low expectations for any diplomatic breakthrough, after Moscow ran into unexpectedly stiff resistance when it unleashed the biggest land war in Europe since World War II.

Kari Lepouttre
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A top adviser to Ukraine’s president says the first round of talks with Russia about ending the fighting in Ukraine has concluded, and more talks could happen soon.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed an application for his country to join the European Union, in a bid to solidify his country’s bond with the West.

Zelenskyy posted photos of himself signing the application, and his office says the paperwork is on its way to Brussels, where the 27-nation EU is headquartered.

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“Outgunned Ukrainian forces managed to slow the Russian advance, and Western sanctions began to squeeze the Russian economy, but the Kremlin again raised the specter of nuclear war, reporting that its land, air and sea nuclear forces were on high alert following President Vladimir Putin’s weekend order,” the AP story states.

President Vladimir Putin justified the invasion of Ukraine in a televised address on Thursday, Feb. 24, stating the attack was needed to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa.

According to an article from the Associated Press, Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demands to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and for security guarantees.

“He also claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to “demilitarize” it and bring those who committed crimes to justice,” the article states.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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