BUENOS AIRES/LIMA (Reuters) – Leila Antonovsk, 28, a Ukrainian living in Argentina, fears for the safety of her mother back in Odessa some 12,642 kilometers (7,855 miles) away after an invasion of the Eastern European country by Russian forces this week.
“My mom is in Ukraine right now, in Odessa, and yesterday she woke up with bombs falling,” said Antonovsk who was protesting on Friday at the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires.
“She, like many of my friends, is currently trying to take refuge, to do something, but everything has collapsed,” she said. “They are really scared. Nobody knows what to do, we don’t know how to help, except to come here.”
Hundreds of Ukrainians marched through the streets of the Argentine capital with placards and yellow-blue flags calling for Russian troops to pull back from Ukraine after an attack which marks the worst European security crisis in decades.
Argentina’s Ukrainian community has nearly 450,000 members, the seventh largest Ukrainian diaspora in the world, according to the Argentine Embassy in Kyiv.
Oleh Jachno, president of Argentina’s Ukrainian chamber of commerce, said that people wanted Ukrainian forces to “throw out Putin” but were also concerned about daily bombings hitting cities.
By Friday Russian troops had reached the outskirts of capital Kyiv, with warnings from authorities to protect the city even as the two governments signaled potential openness to negotiations.
Demonstrators took to the streets in Brazil, Mexico and Peru, chanting “Long live Ukraine” and holding banners saying “Stop the war” and “Ukraine is not alone.”
“We are protesting so that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, this murderer, pulls his people out of Ukraine, to stop the war because we don’t want any more deaths,” said Ukrainian citizen Alina Karminska in Peruvian capital Lima.
In Argentina, Yuri Vanov, a 37-year-old Russian citizen who has lived in the South American country for seven years, had come along to participate in the protests against the invasion, too.
“We are obviously for peace, we don’t want people to die on any side and less for political reasons that have nothing to do with what people think,” Vanov said.
(Reporting by Horacio Soria, Miguel Lo Bianco and Reuters TV; Writing by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Rosalba O’Brien)