‘Shield the sky’: Protesters in Midtown call for no-fly zone over Ukraine

Clip their wings over Ukraine!

That’s what scores of Ukrainian New Yorkers demanded as they assembled outside of the United Nations March 1, with Russia launching rockets and dropping bombs all over Ukraine.

Chants of “No fly zone!” bellowed in the frigid air Tuesday morning as Ukrainian supporters gathered in the looming shadow of the U.N. and pleaded for the besieged Eastern European country to be spared from overhead attacks. This comes after a government building in Kharkiv was bombarded by a massive missile strike, reportedly killing 10.

As the death toll rises and the conflict reaches new grim milestones, the pressure from New Yorkers to aid those facing inconceivable horrors is rapidly mounting.

Protesters gathered outside of the United Nations in support of the Ukraine. Photo by Dean Moses
Protesters called for the sky to be closed. Photo by Dean Moses 
Fuming, Ukrainians demanded action. Photo by Dean Moses

Olaga Riabkoba understands that horror on a personal level. Her mother visited her here in New York only three weeks ago and now she is forced to fear for her mother’s life on a daily basis.

“It is very difficult because I am not there. I had to come here today, how can I not? It is the least I can do,” Riabkoba told amNewYork Metro. “We need to shield the sky over the Ukraine because right now there are so many bombs and rockets and everything just flying over the sky. We need help!”

The Ukrainian government is accusing Russia of war crimes by targeting citizens as they continue their push for the capital of Kyiv. This is driving the anxiety of families watching the conflict from afar to new heights. 

Olaga Riabkoba worries for her mother in Ukraine but says she is doing everything she can to show support from New York. Photo by Dean Moses
Arthur Zgurov has been attending protests every day since the conflict began. Photo by Dean Moses

Arthur Zgurov has been to multiple protests every day since the invasion on his native country began. For him, the motivation is clear: his home is fighting for its survival.

“If you turn on TV today, you will see all the atrocities that Russia has brought, not only today, but all the days of war.  And today there was a missile that hit Kharkiv, the center of the city. A lot of cities are just destroyed,” Zgurov said. 

While Zgurov told amNewYork Metro that it is excruciating to witness the war, he also believes there is no time to sit back and feel sorry. He must continue to take action.

“We need countries of the world to protect the Ukrainian sky because otherwise the airstrikes that are killing civilians will continue and we need to protect civilians. The world stands united, but we need more help,” Zgurov said.

For hours, the large group of protesters chanted and, in an emotional moment, even sang together as they begged for aid to end the conflict that is killing their loved ones.

“Stop the war in Ukraine.” Photo by Dean Moses
Several protesters painted the Ukrainian flag on their faces. Photo by Dean Moses
One woman shows photos of her family residing in the Ukraine. Photo by Dean Moses
The war in the Ukraine has many New Yorkers worried for family and friends. Photo by Dean Moses
Wearing traditional Ukrainian flower headbands, a protester shouts “Protect Ukrainian sky!” Photo by Dean Moses