LOS ANGELES - Ukrainian-Americans are expressing their outrage over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Several protests were held around SoCal on Thursday.
In Westwood, hundreds of people held a rally against the military assault. They waved Ukrainian flags, played the Ukrainian national anthem and held signs with slogans including "Help save my home" and "Stop Putin."
One woman drove from Lake Elsinore to LA to participate in the protest. She told FOX 11 that her sister, who just gave birth, lives near the capital of Ukraine and her parents live near the Belarus-Ukraine border.
"Take whatever you can, some money, ID’s, anything and go to the western side. You have a little baby, only 2-months-old, and you see the strikes," Fox said. "I haven’t slept all night."
Later Thursday night, hundreds gathered in Studio City to rally against Russia's decision to invade Ukraine.
Several California leaders condemned the aggression and called for the most severe sanctions possible.
Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, called the Russian attack "a dark time for the people of Ukraine and for our global peace and security."
"The United States must stand steadfast against Russian authoritarianism and unprovoked aggression," Porter said in a statement. "Together with partners and allies, we must support Ukraine, hold Russia accountable and be prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need."
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, called the invasion "an attack on the idea that countries are free to choose their own destiny, an attack on the rules-based order that has kept world peace since WWII. And most critically, an attack on democracy itself."
Schiff called for the most severe sanctions possible against Russia in response to the military action, targeting its banks, financial markets and "oligarchs."
"This is Putin's war -- senseless, tragic and barbaric," Schiff said on his Twitter account. "We must enact debilitating sanctions on Russia and cut them off from the global economy. And, in the meantime, we pray for the Ukrainian people. An end to this madness."
Biden, speaking from the White House Thursday, laid full blame on the attack on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences," Biden said as he outlined another series of economic sanctions.
The military action was already leading to economic consequences domestically, with the instability leading to sudden jumps in already high gas prices in the Southland and nationally. The average price of a gallon of gas in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $4.82 a gallon, according to the Auto Club of Southern California, a record-high amount that is up 4 cents from last week and $1.14 higher than a year ago.
"The escalation of tensions into all-out war has pushed up Brent Crude prices above $100 a barrel, and if that trend continues, we could see gas prices start going up more quickly," Auto Club spokesman Doug Shupe said. "Also, this week's US Energy Information report indicates that West Coast gasoline supplies are at their lowest levels of 2022, which could also add to upward price pressure."
Biden said he was aware of the impact on gas prices and said the county is prepared to release supplies from its oil reserves.
"I know this is hard and that Americans are already hurting," he said. "I'll do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump."
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