WASHINGTON DC – As he has for over 500 days, Robert Harvey arrives to the north side of the White House at 05:30 pm to stand for an hour in support of Ukraine. Removing his backpack, he mounts the flags of Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars onto metal rods, and distributes handmade signs other supporters of Ukraine who begin to swarm to their meeting spot.


Like most evenings, from the hundreds of tourists who pass-by to take photos in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, dozens stop to look at the signs that call on Washington, in the face of Russia’s genocidal onslaught, to send more weapons to Kyiv.


Several young men pass by and cheer “slava Ukraine”; another unbuttons his windbreaker to reveal a Ukraine t-shirt; several ask questions.


One Ukrainian girl, surprised to see the rally, comes and joins. A short while later she is quietly weeping while telling another supporter, originally from Donetsk, about what her family has suffered at the hands of the Russian invaders.



According to Harvey, Ukrainian soldiers, in Washington for medical treatment or training before shipping back to Ukraine, have stopped by and voiced their appreciation for the group’s work.


Visitors have a tendency to open-up about their own Ukraine connections - a Chinese journalist recently apologized that her nation was not helping Ukraine and said that within China, using VPNs, many Chinese showed support for Ukraine’s fight for freedom; a man from Kenya announced that he prays for Ukraine; some from Canada and Spain have stated that they had taken in Ukrainian refugee families; Kazakhs have seen what is going on and have decided to join the rally; a woman from New Hampshire says that she has been planting sunflowers to demonstrate her support for Ukraine.

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Some reports had suggested the outspoken supporter of the Kremlin’s takeover of east Ukraine had died at the hands of Kyiv assassins, or maybe even in a local mobster contract hit.


Despite encountering “some naysayers and Russian trolls too. But luckily, they are in the minority,” the members of UkraineRallyDC say that “over 95% of people we meet are very supportive of Ukraine.”



This evening, Harvey patiently discusses with two skeptical British visitors, one wearing a “Brexit” t-shirt, why supporting Ukraine is imperative for British, and NATO interests. The arguments given against supporting Ukraine are not merely pro-Russia, but are general opposition of all international engagements by Britain. A short time later the two visitors wander off, hopefully with a better understanding of the issues.


Robert Harvey. PHOTO: Kyiv Post.


The group’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter testifies to the fact that for 578 days, the vigil by this group of Americans has withstood temperatures as low as 10 F (-12 C), lighting strikes, and heavy rains.


However, Harvey describes how “What started out as thousands of people dropped to hundreds after a few weeks and months [of the start of the full-scale invasion]. After the first 6 months, our numbers dropped to a few dozen. These days, some days we may be as few as 1 or 2 people – or closer to 10-12.”


However, “every day someone is there.”


Harvey says that there are three principles uniting those rallying for Ukraine:



·      to “remind people that Russia’s genocidal war in Ukraine continues, and the Russian leadership speaks openly of their hatred of the United States and our allies;”

·      to “thank the U.S. and make clear that US military aid to Ukraine is necessary and helping save lives;”

·      calling on “continued support for Ukraine until all of Ukraine is liberated.”


After reading of the “horrific atrocities the Russian military was committing against civilians, particularly against children, in areas they had occupied,” Harvey, who had newly arrived to the DC area, decided to actively advocate for Ukraine.


He explained that the “free reign Russia has given its soldiers to rape and pillage has made their genocidal intent extremely clear,” as “the Russian leadership speaks openly of their intent to do the same to many other countries.”

Come rain or shine. PHOTO: Kyiv Post 


The only solution is that the “Russian military must suffer a crippling defeat, to stop their genocidal acts, and to stop Russia and its allies from committing further genocidal invasions. This is the right thing to do, and necessary for the safety of the United States and our NATO allies. My goal is to make sure Ukraine gets the weapons and training to do that,” says Harvey.



Though some exiled Ukrainian citizens and members of the longer term diaspora attend the events, Harvey, whose mother came from East Germany, has “no Ukrainian heritage himself” and neither do the majority of those who come to the rally.


So, who are these, largely non-Ukrainian Americans who come daily to support Ukraine?


It is a “combination of Americans who [despite having] no personal, familial, or professional affiliation to Ukraine, who have never been to Ukraine, but simply feel that it is morally important.”

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