SEATTLE — For thousands of Ukrainians living in the U.S., it's difficult to watch the Russian invasion of their home country unfold.
From prayer services to protests Ukrainians in western Washington hosted several public gatherings to rally support.
Hundreds rallied in the shadow of Seattle's space needle on Saturday. The event included playing the Ukrainian national anthem and a speech from Congressman Rick Larson.
Earlier in the day, hundreds filled a Tacoma church for a prayer service. They talked about refugees and said they hope to welcome some here.
Valeriy Golodorodao is the honorary consul of Ukraine in Seattle and said more than 70,000 people are living in western Washington with Ukrainian heritage.
“I had over 100 phone calls, what can we do? How can we coordinate, how can we support Ukraine?” Golodorodao said.
Vitaliy Piekhotin was born in Ukraine and still works with a charity there. He just returned from visiting family two weeks ago.
“It's a very difficult time for Ukraine we never were thinking in our minds in my bad dreams I would never imagine that this would happen,” Piekhotin said.
He said his family members are hiding in dark bomb shelters but love their country and want to see it go on. He carried around a Ukrainian flag that had been damaged when Russian troops first invaded eastern Ukraine eight years ago. He believes it is a symbol for his country.
“Ukraine will survive. This flag survived 8 years and Ukraine survived the occupation of different periods. It will survive Putin, it will survive from Russia,” Piekhotin said.
“We as Ukrainians, we do it because of love, not because of hate towards Russia because of love towards Ukraine,” Golodorodao said.
It is that love that they say brings them out to protest, to pray or anything else they can for their loved ones and land under attack so far away.
Local Ukrainian leaders say they’re meeting with members of Congress to try and work diplomatic channels, as well.