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Supporters rally to commemorate one year of war in Ukraine

Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022.

WASHINGTON — Hundreds gathered Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

Russia invaded the country on February 24, 2022.

At the time, many analysts wondered if the war would last even a week.

One year later, Ukraine remains in the fight.

"We were given three days but here we are 365 days later," said Yaroslav Ponomarov, who was born in Ukraine but grew up in New York.

Attendees at Saturday's rally urged the United States and other Western countries to continue to send financial aid and military equipment to the war-torn country, saying it's needed now more than ever. 

"We're aiming at the victory and we're hoping to bring that victory closer," said Maryna Baydyuk, President of United Help Ukraine.

It's a fight that many in attendance knew from personal experience. 

Gabriela Grabovska saw Russia's February 2022 invasion firsthand.

She's now a freshman at George Mason University, but before she arrived for classes in August, she was living in her hometown of Kiev when tanks and helicopters approached.

"I needed to hide in snow with my dad," she recalled. "He tried to cover my body because I was wearing colorful clothes."

Rally attendees thanked the United States for its support, which helped Ukraine push back those early advances.

Olena Czel, who is originally from Ukraine but has lived in D.C. for years, said her country will continue to fight for its freedom but acknowledged the pain so many of her countrymen have endured over the last year.

"I'm glad that we're still going strong," she said. "I'm just praying for this to be over soon."

The cost of the war has been felt on both sides. 

Specific, publicly-available numbers are tough to come by in a conflict like this, but rally organizers estimated that roughly 21,000 Ukrainian civilians have been hurt or killed since the war began.

On the Russian side, CBS News reports that the U.K. government estimates as many as 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or hurt since fighting started.

Last weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris told the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. believes Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

But not everyone supports continued aide. Last weekend, a different group rallied on the Lincoln Memorial steps calling on the U.S. government to cut off its support to Ukraine, arguing that continued conflict in the country increases the risk of nuclear war.

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