Halifax residents hoping Ukraine crisis doesn’t become military conflict

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - A small group of Ukrainians living in HRM held a rally in Dartmouth on Sunday to oppose Russian military action in Crimea, saying it’s in everyone’s best interests – but especially Canada’s – to rein in Russia president Vladimir Putin

A man holding his child at Sunday's rally in Dartmouth to oppose Russian military action in Crimea.

“The less resistance (Putin) feels, the more dangerous he becomes to the world,” said spokesperson Denys Khaperskyy.  “In Canada, we shouldn’t forget the polar regions that Russia has already said they would like to have a stake in there and I think we should really, as Ukrainian and Canadians…take heed of what’s happening.”

About 20 people came to the rally on the Macdonald Bridge, waving Ukrainian flags and holding signs denouncing the recent Russian incursion into the Crimean peninsula.

Crimean residents – 58 per cent of whom are ethnic Russian – reportedly voted to rejoin their former governing state Sunday in a referendum that Ukrainian and Western leaders have declared illegal.

Rally participant Marina Blokhina, a native of Kharkov in north-east Ukraine, said she was gratified by Canada’s swift support of the new Ukrainian government, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to visit Kiev this week.

But she said she attended the rally to show support for the friends and family still in Ukraine who are facing the real threat of armed conflict.

“We’re still part of Ukraine and we want to show our support somehow to people there,” she said. “We hope they get all these pictures and everything so they will feel stronger…they need to be strong.”

Several drivers honked in support as they passed the rally, and Khaperskyy said he hoped there’d never be a need for the moral support to become military reinforcement.

“Ukrainians and Canadians have very strong ties,” he said. “For now, keeping us in your prayers and try to pressure Russia diplomatically and economically would be a good support for us.”

Geographic location: Ukraine, Canada, Russia Crimean Halifax Kiev

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