In Russia, Putin is telling citizens that attacking a neighbouring country is a good move but many Russians disagree, with protests erupting in several Russian cities and around the world.
Here on Vancouver Island, the Russian community is watching in shock.
Victoria resident, Julia Rochtchina, who moved to Canada from Russia in 2002 has been glued to her TV, anxiously waiting for any updates and fearing for not only the safety of her relatives, but those on the other side.
“There will be deaths and that’s my biggest fear,” she said.
“I could not believe until the very last moment that this would actually happen, and I’m not quite sure I’m still believing even though it’s out there.”
In the wake of Thursday’s early morning attack on Ukraine, thousands poured out into the streets of Russia. It is believed that by Thursday afternoon more than one thousand have been detained by police.
Videos surfaced on social media of large crowds marching and chanting “No to war” in the Russian presidents hometown of St. Petersburg.
Сейчас в Москве. Люди скандируют «Нет войне!». pic.twitter.com/yLOAgGztVc
— Тот самый Мартин (@martin_camera) February 24, 2022
Phenomenally brave Russians taking to the streets in St Petersburg to protest the invasion of Ukraine. The consequences of protesting could be severe. pic.twitter.com/ChYxbXaIxu
— Supertanskiii (@supertanskiii) February 24, 2022
According to most recent census data, Victoria’s Russian population is just over 8,000.
Rochtchina fears that because of her background, herself and others from the Russian community will take the blame.
“I believe firmly as a Russian that Russians do not want the war and I guess they shouldn’t be held responsible for what’s going on right now,” she said.
Threats for both sides as Ukrainians panic to flee their homes and Russians risk their safety in the streets.
In the meantime, those here on the Island watch in frustration and hope for peace.