People holding colourful signs supporting Ukraine and condemning Russia stand on the steps at Grand Parade.
Last Saturday’s ‘I Stand With Ukraine’ call to action in Halifax where the ‘Close the sky’ messaging was front and centre. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

Organizers of a peace rally demanding an end to the war in Ukraine are hoping for a large turnout on Saturday as they share their key message — stop the war, stop Putin, and shelter the sky over Ukraine.

“Nova Scotians need to know that this is a war,” Lyubov Zhyznomirska said in an interview on Friday afternoon.

“And I say this as a political scientist studying Ukraine, European Union, Russian relations and as someone who was born in Ukraine, received my undergraduate education in Ukraine, and who is aware of various attempts to create the modern state by Ukraine.”

The Saint Mary’s University political science professor has lived in Canada for 19 years, but has close friends and loved ones living in Ukraine. She said it is impossible to put into words how Ukrainian Canadians feel as they watch what is happening in their country.

A blond woman wearing a black, short-sleeved dress and white pearl necklace standing in front of a wall of greenery.
Saint Mary’s University professor Lyubov Zhyznomirska. Photo: Contributed

“Ukraine is not asking for the army, Ukraine is asking for ammunition, Ukraine is asking for anti-air, anti-tank, anti-naval missiles so that they can protect themselves,” she said.

“The key point right now is to protect the sky, to shelter the sky, so that civilians are not terrorized.”

Zhyznomirska said her expertise studying Russian foreign policy and Russia’s engagement with the European Union has given her a great deal of insight, and there’s a message she wants to share with all Nova Scotians.

“Their (Russia’s) attempts to revise security architecture goes back to 2007 and the famous Putin’s Munich speech, where the war has an underlying goal to redraw the line of influence in the world and undermine the international norms,” she said.

“This has been pronounced in various writings by both (Sergey) Lavrov, foreign minister of Russia, and (Vladimir) Putin since at least 2007. There’s a statement in publication that the new world order is coming, the world order that Russia will be respected in a multipolar world, in a nutshell.”

Zhyznomirska is one of the organizers of Saturday’s event in downtown Halifax at 2pm. Last weekend, hundreds gathered in Halifax to support Ukraine as part of a call to action organized by the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress-Nova Scotia branch. Zhyznomirska’s hopeful just as many people show up to this weekend’s event at Peace and Friendship Park.

“Ukrainians in Ukraine have shown their strength and their unitedness to stand and protect their land,” she said.

“The hope is that we all appeal to our government not to just watch the slaughter of civilians happening and the international terrorism of firing at the nuclear power plants. That we demand action from our politicians, from our governments.”

After a few short speeches, she said they plan to form a human chain around the perimeter of Peace and Friendship Park to show solidarity with Ukrainians, demand an end to the war, and call on the international community to shelter the sky over Ukraine. There will also be people onsite to collect humanitarian aid donations.

“It (Saturday’s event) not only gives us (Ukrainian Nova Scotians) strength to support each other and be there in one place, but it also gives an opportunity for Nova Scotians to not feel truly helpless if they are distressed with what’s happening,” Zhyznomirska said.

“They can come to the square where everyone can share and support Ukraine.”

Acknowledging that developments are rapidly evolving, Zhyznomirska said as of Friday afternoon she was disheartened that the international community still isn’t helping Ukraine protect its sky.

“The fact that NATO today failed to come up with any creative solution of how to close the sky over Ukraine, how to shelter Ukraine territory, is horrific,” Zhyznomirska said.

“I find this very troublesome, because Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors. Let’s not forget about that and the fact that last night (Thursday) there was a fire at one of the nuclear power plants with six reactors. At Chernobyl, there was just one reactor.”

Zhyznomirska said she’s hopeful that because the International Court of Justice is now on the ground in Ukraine documenting what is happening, a ceasefire and/or humanitarian corridors may result.

“Also, everyone is wondering is (Vladimir) Putin rational? Is he acting irrational? And I think it’s very calculated and rational what they’re (Russians) doing,” Zhyznomirska said.

“It’s just a question of whether they will be successful with it.”

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Yvette d'Entremont

Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor, covering the COVID-19 pandemic and health issues. Twitter @ydentremont

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  1. Calling for a NATO no-fly zone in Ukraine is calling for open war between NATO (including Canada) and Russia. That’s the opposite of a peace rally.