Vermonters are standing up for peace and showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
There was a row of blue and yellow in Montpelier Thursday, with people lining the sidewalk in front of the post office on State Street holding homemade flags and signs in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The group was calling for an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and for a stop to the shelling of areas where innocent civilians are located.
“There’s no warm water, food is ending,” lamented Ukraine-born Sofia Shatkivska, who now lives in central Vermont and is a U.S. citizen.
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Russian shelling has Shatkivska worried every minute of every day about the people of her homeland, she said. Her sister is still there.
More on the Russia-Ukraine crisis
"I truly trust the Lord she will be okay, because we all pray," Shatkivska told NECN and NBC10 Boston.
The demonstration was held just down the street from where Gov. Phil Scott announced expansions to an earlier executive order that removed Russian-made liquor from Vermont store shelves.
"We have a moral obligation to do our part," Scott said, before listing a round of new actions he is taking to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A close look at all state contracts is now underway, the governor said. If any purchases come from Russia or Russian-owned businesses, those orders will be canceled.
The Republican also promised his state will welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms, if need be.
Gov. Scott also said he wants the Legislature to fund $643,077 in humanitarian donations — that’s one dollar for every Vermonter — using mechanisms such as a budget adjustment.
"I know several of these steps are symbolic," Scott acknowledged. "But we need to let the people of Ukraine know we’re there for them."
In a joint statement released following the governor’s donation request, Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint and Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski, both Democrats, expressed support for the idea.
"We want to do all we can to show that Vermonters stand with the people of Ukraine and that they are not alone in their fight against authoritarianism," Balint and Krowinski wrote. "We know that there is only so much we can do here in Vermont, but this is a time to come together and show that an attack on democracy, and the callous killing of innocent civilians, shall not go unaddressed. We have had conversations with other legislative leaders, and we are united in both chambers to take immediate legislative action and get humanitarian aid out the door as soon as we return next week."
The governor’s full executive order, which you can below, also urges any Vermont community that has an existing sister city or town agreement with locations in Russia to suspend or severe those bonds — unless the Russian municipality voices opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s violent aggression in Ukraine.
Treasurer Beth Pearce, a Democrat, is currently reviewing all state investment portfolios, the governor relayed.
Gov. Scott pledged that if there’s any state money in Russian enterprises, those holdings will be liquidated. The governor expressed gratitude for Pearce launching her examination even before he reached out to recommend it.
Tulane University senior Zavier Ridgley was studying abroad at Middlebury College’s school in Russia. The war, though, forced the college in Vermont and its partners in Moscow to pause in-person operations there— so Ridgley told NECN and NBC10 Boston he will finish the semester remotely from the U.S.
Ridgley was flying out of Moscow Thursday evening, he said, adding that he fully supported Middlebury’s decision to suspend in-person teaching and urge American students to leave Russia.
"Regular people are the ones who have to bear the brunt of these conflicts and these power struggles," Ridgley observed, noting that a wide range of effects from Russia’s assault on Ukraine are being felt worldwide. "It’s really strange to imagine that one decision made by one man could affect millions of people in totally different ways, all around the world, because of how connected we are. Yet we’re not connected enough to avoid things like this."
The Middlebury School in Russia posted a letter to students about its recent decision to temporarily suspend in-person operations. A college spokesperson said Middlebury does plan to send students to Russia in future semesters, once the school, its security advisors, and university partners overseas determine it is possible to do so.
Back on the sidewalk in Montpelier, Sofia Shatkivska said she is deeply grateful for the visible shows of support for Ukraine, both now and in the future.
"I will go to rebuild," Shatkivska vowed, adding that she feels drawn to help Ukrainian children affected by the violence.
Participants in the peace demonstration said they will return to State Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noontime to continue showing support for Ukraine.