BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) – High winds carried traditional Ukrainian music and prayers through the streets Sunday as hundreds of people gathered to show their support for Ukraine outside Binghamton City Hall.
Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said the rally was perhaps the largest held outside City Hall in the past decade. This happened as Ukraine continues to face a Russian invasion.
Anya Kostyk attended the rally alongside her husband and young daughter. She left Ukraine for the United States in 2019.
His parents live in a town an hour from Kiev, where they have remained since the start of the Russian attacks. Kostyk said without a car it is difficult for them to leave and the nearest train station that would take them west has been seized by Russian forces.
Kostyk said she visits family in Ukraine daily. His mother spent her birthday in an air-raid shelter.
Kostyk had hoped they would flee to Poland, but said it was no longer safe enough for his parents to travel.
“I feel torn emotionally, to pieces,” she said Sunday through her husband, Taras Kostyk. “We felt this pain in 2014 when the war started in the east, with the annexation of Crimea, but this pain is, you can’t even describe it in words right now, what we are feeling. “
She wants the United States and NATO member states to increase their assistance to those still in Ukraine. The couple and their young daughter, Adrianna, held up a sign urging NATO member countries to close their skies to Russian planes.
The US ban on Russian planes went into effect last week.
Authorities seek to resettle Ukrainian refugees, again
Many speakers at the rally declared their support for tougher statewide measures against Russia, including an end to state contracts with Russian companies.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order last week ordering all state agencies to review and withdraw public funds from Russia.
Broome County officials added that they were ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees. According to the United Nations, around 1.3 million people have fled Ukraine so far.
“We are ready, willing and able to help anyone who needs housing, either temporarily or permanently as a result of the violence in Ukraine,” the county manager said. of Broome, Jason Garnar.
The Binghamton area already hosts a large Ukrainian community, which has remained in the southern part for several generations. Orysia Czebiniak-Tunick’s mother was among many Ukrainians who came to Broome County via displaced persons camps in Germany after World War II.
Czebiniak-Tunick, who grew up in the town of Union, said she was raised to be proud of her Ukrainian heritage. She has remained involved in the Ukrainian community through the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart and hopes to enroll her son in Ukrainian language school.
Czebiniak-Tunick said she was surprised by the influx of support for Ukrainians and Ukrainian-Americans.
“To see how many people have come out to support the community is beyond words for me,” Czebiniak-Tunick said.