KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Biden administration is preparing to assist Ukraine, and those in the Kansas City area are offering their support, as well.

The Pentagon said Friday the U.S. will provide “security assistance,” and President Joe Biden held a call with Ukranian President Volodomir Zelensky, offering support. The White House also confirmed the U.S. is imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladamir Putin and foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

Here in Kansas City, a local rally in support of Ukraine is scheduled for Saturday at Mill Creek Park.

Organizers expect at least 100 people to gather. Members of the Ukrainian Club of Kansas City said they hope this rally and others result in action to stop Russian forces.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine feels like a catastrophe to Karina Pavolva Meyer and her husband Andrew. Karina is a native of Ukraine, but has made her home in the United States for four years.

But her parents still live in Ukraine, and they’re among thousands of people searching for safety.

“Some of them can’t leave because they need a car, and it’s so difficult to leave,” Pavolva Meyer said. “There are traffic jams, and in some situations there’s no petrol.”

“Her parents spent all of yesterday arranging their bomb shelter, moving furniture and supplies in,” Andrew Meyer said. “This is the new. This is how people are living right now in Ukraine.”

Forty million people make their home in Ukraine. Their safety is a top concern for world leaders, and so is preventing Russia’s power play to remake the former Soviet Union by conquest.

Meanwhile, Ukraine remains in Paige Barrows’ heart.

“I’m just sad for my friends over there,” she said.

Barrows spent two years in the country as a Peace Corps volunteer after graduating from Kansas State University. She’s worried for the future of loved ones in Eastern Europe.

“Others say if it gets bad, we’re going to evacuate,” Barrows said. “Now it’s my understanding they’re not allowing males between the ages of 18 and 60 to leave the country. So now we’re looking at families being separated, so they’re having to make hard decisions.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Ukrainian Club of Kansas City plans a 1 p.m. rally to show support and compassion for families like Karina’s. The demonstration is meant to protest Russia’s aggression.

“The more love the better,” said Dr. Adrian Zelechuk, the group’s leader. “We understand that if Putin is to be stopped, it will be the Russian people who will stop him. That’s the only thing that can really stop him. We welcome everyone.”

At Saturday’s rally, Zelechuk hopes American leaders will hear the cries for help and apply more pressure on Russian figureheads to end this conflict.

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