Around 2,000 members of the large Ukrainian community in Argentina marched in Buenos Aires on Friday, demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces.
Shouting "Putin is a murderer" and demanding a "ceasefire and the unconditional withdrawal of the forces that invaded our country," the demonstrators called for greater support from the international community.
"We demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the sovereign territory of Ukraine," said the leaders of the Ukrainian Central Representation in Argentina (RCUA), where almost 500,000 members of the Ukrainian community live, in a petition that they tried to deliver to the Russian Embassy.
Children and grandchildren of Ukrainians who arrived in the country at the end of the 19th century, along with more recent arrivals, marched carrying two long Ukrainian flags, singing the Ukrainian national anthem and chanting in their mother tongue slogans such as "Glory to Ukraine, glory to its heroes," "Ukraine before all" and "Freedom to Ukraine."
"Russians and Ukrainians have a lot in common. My main feeling is anger, what I least imagined is that the Russians would kill my people," said Tetiana Abramchenko, a 40-year-old Ukrainian who arrived with her 19-year-old daughter in Argentina in 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea, struggling to hold back the tears.
Tetiana, who is married to an Argentine and comes from a small town near Poland – which she avoided identifying for fear, she said, of Russian reprisals against her family – believes that "Ukrainians will never forgive the Russians" for the deaths caused by the territorial conflict that began eight years ago.
About 20 Russians living in Argentina took part in the demonstration, holding signs saying "Putin terrorist" and shouting "No to war" in their own language.
"They [Ukrainians] sleep in the underground, cold. Old, sick, little ones crying, losing their homes and seeing blood. I can't believe that in this day and age brothers are killing brothers. I can't believe it," said Nadia Pashanova, 60, who has lived in Argentina since 1999.
The leaders of the demonstration of the Ukrainian community, one of the oldest and largest in Latin America, expressly thanked through their leaders the support to their government from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
So far, the government of President Alberto Fernández has demanded that Russia "cease military actions in Ukraine, expressed its "firm rejection of the use of armed forces," while advocating respect for the "sovereignty of states and their territorial integrity" and calling for an immediate dialogue that would allow for a "peaceful solution" to the conflict.
"We expected more," declared neurosurgeon Pedro Lylik, president of the RCUA, at the end of the event in front of the Russian embassy, which closed with a rendition of the Argentine national anthem.