DC protesters supporting Ukraine gather outside Russian embassy, White House: 'Sanctions now!'

White House protesters called on President Biden to impose more sanctions on Vladimir Putin

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Protesters in Washington, D.C., gathered outside the Russian embassy and the White House Thursday to demonstrate against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and call on President Biden to do more to help the besieged country.

Hundreds of demonstrators waved Ukrainian flags and shouted "Defend Ukraine now!" and "Sanctions now!" outside the White House fence in the afternoon, the Washington Post reported. 

"All Ukrainians in the D.C. area and throughout the country and the world are really so concerned about what’s going on. It’s beyond concern," Maryna Baydyuk told the Post. Baydyuk is the president of United Help Ukraine. She helped organize the protest. "We’re all scared. We’re all frustrated. We cannot believe what’s happening in our home country."

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Nadiya Shaporynska, president of U.S. Ukrainian Activists and protest organizer, said her family is in Ukraine. 

Demonstrators during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. 

Demonstrators during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.  (Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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"What’s happening, it’s not right in the 21st century. There shouldn’t be war in the 21st century," she said. "Ukraine is a peaceful European country, and Ukraine works very well on its democratic development. It’s a country that has very positive goals to achieve, not to be part of the Soviet Union, not to be part of Russia."

Signs during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. 

Signs during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.  (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Around 100 protesters had gathered outside the Russian embassy in the freezing pre-dawn hours of Thursday after news broke that Russia had invaded. 

Dozens returned in the afternoon with blue and yellow balloons – the colors of Ukraine’s flag – and signs that read "Long live Ukraine," "Putin will find out Ukraine is no game" and "Blood is on Putin’s hands." 

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: Protesters gather in front of the Russia's Embassy in Washington to protest against Russian intervention in Ukraine, as a woman writes "murder" in front of the embassy building on February 24, 2022 in Washington, United States.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: Protesters gather in front of the Russia's Embassy in Washington to protest against Russian intervention in Ukraine, as a woman writes "murder" in front of the embassy building on February 24, 2022 in Washington, United States. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Putin is "killing people to feed his own ego. I think most people know it is wrong," protester Valerie Hovetter told the Post. She said she lived in Ukraine for four years. "I think most people know it is wrong," she said.

WASHINGTON, USA - FEBRUARY 24: Ukrainians gather in front of the White House in Washington, USA to stage a protest against Russia's attack in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. 

WASHINGTON, USA - FEBRUARY 24: Ukrainians gather in front of the White House in Washington, USA to stage a protest against Russia's attack in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.  (Photo by Yasin Ãztürk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Protester Leonid Shumilo, who shouted at embassy guards in Ukrainian outside the fence, said he wanted to see people around the world united against the war. He said his sister had spent the night in a bunker in Kyiv. 

At least one arrest was made when a woman started spray-painting on the sidewalk, police said, according to the Post