MINNEAPOLIS — As the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine continues, landmarks across Minneapolis will light up in solidarity with Ukrainian people around the globe.
Starting Friday night and continuing through the weekend, the I-35W bridge, Capella Tower, Target headquarters, U.S. Bank Stadium, Target Field and Nicollet Mall will be bathed in blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Back in August, the Lowry Avenue Bridge was also lit in blue and yellow to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union.
On Thursday, Russian forces invaded Ukraine and have continued a campaign of bombings and airstrikes. Both military and civilian casualties have been reported.
Ukrainians living in Minnesota, though far from the conflict, are feeling the impacts of the violence, which shattered decades of peace in Europe. Dozens gathered at the St. Constantine Ukrainian Catholic Church in northeast Minneapolis Thursday night to pray.
Nick Kramarczuk, whose grandparents left Ukraine to live in the United States at the end of WWII and founded the Kramarczuk Sausage Company, said some of his newest employees just recently left the country.
"He's only been here six or eight months and doesn't speak a lot of English and I think this is almost like an alternate reality for him," said Kramarczuk of one employee.
The origins of the current Ukraine-Russia conflict are complicated, but can be traced back to the collapse of the Soviet Union and formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO .
Stephen Vitvitsky, a second generation Ukrainian-American, explained it to KARE 11 reporter Danny Spewak like this: Ukrainians have long been accustomed to some degree of Russian threat, ever since Ukraine declared independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2014, tensions simmered further when Ukrainians overthrew pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, pushing Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex Crimea and support a separatist war in eastern Ukraine.
For the past eight years, the ongoing conflict has pitted a flawed but emerging democracy in Ukraine versus an autocratic Russian regime under Putin, who opposes Ukraine's efforts to create strong ties with Western democracies. Ukraine is not currently a member of NATO or the European Union, and Russia wants it to stay that way.
President Biden has promised more sanctions against Russia, targeting banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors.
At a press conference yesterday, Biden also said the U.S. will deploy forces to Germany to support NATO, but reiterated that American troops will not be sent to Ukraine to fight.
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