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Connecticut residents rally in support of Ukraine

U.S. officials monitor situation as tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine Sunday.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut residents held a rally outside of the State Capitol in Hartford Sunday afternoon to show their support for Ukraine, as tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine.

“It’s a completely unprovoked war. The Ukrainian people have been living in peace for the last 30 years of independence and so we’re here in solidarity with those folks," said Alex Kuzma with the Ukrainian Catholic University Foundation, which supports higher education in Ukraine.

Kuzma still has family there.

“This could lead to tremendous carnage if Putin decides to unleash a full attack," Kuzma said. "We would like to see the U.S. government impose sanctions now.”

RELATED: Ukraine's president calls on Putin to meet as tensions soar

The rally was also attended by the Connecticut congressional delegation.

"America will always stand with the Ukraine and it’s Ukrainian-American citizens and that’s why we’re here," Congressman John Larson said.

Congressman Joe Courtney said Ukrainian-Americans are a strong stakeholder in the state and contribute in many ways, pointing to Igor Sikorsky who was born in Kyiv and founded Sikorsky Aircraft, which is now based in Stratford, Connecticut.

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“The Ukrainian-American community in Connecticut actually goes back about 100 years. It was the first diaspora that came over after the Russian Revolution," Courtney said. “At the end of the day, it’s really about shared Democratic values, which is really what is at risk right now, and I think it’s important for our state, and our congressional delegation really, to be completely united in terms of protecting a sovereign democratic nation.”

Mary and Mark Melnyk attended the rally and are first generation Ukrainian-Americans living in Southington.

“Putin wants the USSR back. He wants the East European nations back. He doesn’t want Ukraine part of the EU, NATO, nothing, and we need to stop him," Mary Melnyk said.

RELATED: Ukrainian-American community in Connecticut says family back home is 'ready to fight' for democracy

They want to protect the land where their parents came from.

"We want our children, they have never been yet, and we want them to go and see a free Ukraine. We don’t want it to be under Putin’s rule," she added.

Connecticut has the tenth largest Ukrainian American population according to data from the marketing firm, Améredia.

Elisha Machado is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at emachado@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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