'Close the sky': Thousands rally in Chicago, call for no-fly zone as Russia invades Ukraine

Michelle Gallardo Image
Monday, March 7, 2022
'Close the sky': Thousands rally in Chicago, call for no-fly zone as Russia invades Ukraine
Ukrainian flags fly high in the Chicago area as thousands rally, including Russians, in support of Ukraine.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "Close the Sky," was the chant heard across Chicago Sunday, as thousands upon thousands of people first rallied, and then marched through downtown in support of Ukraine's fight against the Russian invasion.

A giant Ukrainian flag now proudly flies over Chicago's skyline after being raised by U.S military veterans earlier in the day.

"I'm part Ukrainian and part Russian," said Elena Krikun, a Russian-Ukrainian national.

It is without a doubt, a hard position to be in. Krikun drove in from Michigan for one of the day's rallies, telling us she has family on both sides of the Ukraine/Russia border.

"They feel anger towards government -- towards Putin," she said. "We're afraid that now we're associated with him but there are so many people that are against the regime."

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The war, now in its 11th day, has caused 1.5 million people to flee the country.

It was a sentiment echoed throughout Daley Plaza Sunday, where it quickly became apparent that along with the thousands of Ukrainian nationals filling the square, was a large contingent of Russian-Americans, as well as many others who were once part of the former Soviet bloc.

"It's the duty of every Russian to oppose this war. It's our duty to stand with Ukraine. Especially those of us with freedom here in the West. We have to be here," said Anna Bailliekova, a Ukraine supporter from Russia.

"I'm old enough that I lived in a communist system for a few years when I was young and I remember how bad it was everything for us," added said Bogdan Rusu, a Ukraine supporter from Romania.

As the casualties mount and the humanitarian crisis grows, the support was welcomed by Ukrainian-Americans who feel they must speak up on behalf of their homeland if Ukraine is to get the international support it needs.

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"Many, many decisions about the future of my country are done here," said Hanna Onyshchenko, a Ukrainian national.

Both the U.S and NATO have scrambled to send military aid to Ukraine, however, imposing a no-fly zone is off the table for now, as officials believe that would constitute a direct act of war against Russia.