People in Hong Kong have stepped out to show their support for Ukraine and protest the Russian invasion of the Eastern European nation.

Ostap Kostiukevych, a 27-year-old Ukrainian who came to Hong Kong two years ago, stood in Tsim Sha Tsui with his friend, wrapped in the Ukrainian flag and holding signs that read “stop the war” and “stop the killer,” last Saturday.

Ostap Kostiukevych
Ostap Kostiukevych protesting against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Tsim Sha Tsui on February 26, 2022. Photo: Supplied.

Kostiukevych, who works in costume production, told HKFP that he first heard about the invasion last Thursday from his mum, who is still in Ukraine and said she had heard explosions.

Russia launched a large-scale military attack on Ukraine last Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “military operation” in a televised speech.

On Tuesday, the BBC reported that Russian troops were advancing to Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine, and that the second-largest city in the country, Kharkiv, had suffered air strikes and bombings.

Countries including the US, the UK, and Canada, have imposed sanctions on Russia. The European Union will purchase weapons for Ukraine, even though the eastern European country was not a member and only submitted an application on Monday.

After the war broke out, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused an offer from the US to evacuate from the country, and reportedly said that he “need[ed] ammunition, not a ride,” according to CNN.

“It’s hardly imaginable for any normal human being that in 21st century… that anything like this can be even possible, in the middle of the world, in Europe,” said Kostiukevych on Monday.

The damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. Photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP.

Since the news of the war broke, the 27-year-old said that a number of his friends, many of them local Hongkongers, had asked about the situation and his family. “Which was really nice to hear,” said Kostiukevych.

While standing in Tsim Sha Tsui with his flag and signs for around 30 to 40 minutes, the Ukrainian said that many people “acknowledged” him.

“Not all of them can feel free to speak what they want, or join you, or take pictures with you, but they took pictures of us, quite a few of them. They were interested, and they were supportive… they were saying that ‘we’re standing with you’ and it was amazing to hear.”

Kostiukevych said he would “definitely” continue with similar actions in coming weeks, adding that he has his Ukrainian flag with him everywhere he goes.

‘An immediate cessation’

The 27-year-old was not the only person protesting in the city against the invasion. Over the weekend, people stood with signs and flags in areas including Central, albeit in groups of no more than two

Under current Covid-19 restrictions imposed in Hong Kong, people are not allowed to gather in groups of more than two people in public places.

Ukraine Hong Kong
People holding up signs in different parts of Hong Kong protesting against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photos: Supplied.

In a statement published on Facebook last Friday, the Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong urged for “an immediate cessation.”

“The Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong and Ukrainians around the world were shocked and horrified by Russia’s invasion. We ask for an immediate cessation of this bloody military campaign which is violating our sovereignty, endangering civilian lives, and destroying our infrastructure,” the statement read.

“We stand by our country and our people at this dangerous moment for Ukraine and other nations that Russia might invade.”

‘Glory to Ukraine’

An anonymous group also projected the Ukrainian flag onto the clock tower in Tsim Sha Tsui on Monday evening. In a statement to HKFP, the group said the act was to “express our support to the people of Ukraine at war.”

Tsim Sha Tsui Ukraine
An Ukrainian flag projected onto the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower on February 28, 2022. Photo: Supplied.

“We the Hong Kongers have been inspired and moved by the courage, wisdom and determination of the people of Ukraine, who have been purged by totalitarian states for long,” the statement read.

Ukrainian flag Hong Kong
Photo: Supplied.

“Even though their land suffers attack, they never give up but fight for their home and freedom until the last moment. Although we are far away in Hong Kong, we hope to provide support to the people of Ukraine in war and purge. We wish the war to end soon, freedom back to the people oppressed by unjust regimes, and glory to Ukraine.”

Lion Rock

Photos from the internet also showed lights on top of Lion Rock last Sunday.

Lion Rock Ukraine
A photo from the internet showing lights flashing on top of Lion Rock on February 27, 2022. Photo: Internet.

According to HK Feature and HK01, it was a group of citizens who hiked up the mountain and flashed lights from the hill top in support of the Ukrainian people.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.