SEATTLE - Russian troops had reportedly pulled back this week from some areas around Kyiv and Northern Ukraine. Pentagon officials have said they don't believe it's a retreat, but a change in strategy in Russia's war against Ukraine.
Those who attended a rally for Ukraine at Seattle Center Saturday afternoon gave their take on what they consider a "Second Phase" of the war. There, more than 200 people were calling for continued support for the hard-hit country.
"I work with a lot of psychologists over there in the front lines," said rally organizer, Olga Okhapkina.
She has many friends and other acquaintances that are still there, in harm's way. She says that some of the newer information coming out of the country includes reports of crimes and offenses carried out by invading Russian troops, specifically against women.
"I know that so many women in Ukraine had sexual harassment from the Russian troops. So, we try to help and support those women from all over the country," said Okhapkina.
Katya Sedova says that while Russian officials say they may be withdrawing from areas near Kyiv, her family and friends in Ukraine are bracing for more attacks.
"My relatives are getting used to air raids in the middle of the night," said Sedova. "These forces are not withdrawing, they are very likely moving to the East."
Sedova says recent reports that the United States is working with allies to move tanks and other military assets into Ukraine are encouraging.
"I can’t believe we have to ask for tanks in the 21st century for a conventional war in Europe, but there we are," she said.
A local activist and representative of the Russian Americans for Democracy in Russia held a sign at the rally, symbolizing the washing away of blood on the Russian flag. He says it's meant to show support for Ukraine and a call to return to democracy in Russia.
"We feel that sorrow because of the terrorist action that Putin did," said Mitch Gaul.
He says the US and other countries should continue to seize assets of those close to Putin.
"We urge the United States officials to seize the Kremlin's assets, the United Russia Party’s assets, any member thereof," he says. "Not only do they bring the money, but they bring the corruption here."
Many people at the rally said they are grateful that the US is sending military assistance, equipment and support to Ukraine, but they feel more is needed including stronger air defense support.
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