PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A rally in support of Ukraine was held at downtown Portland’s Salmon Springs Fountain after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine.

The “Support Ukraine, Stop Russian Aggression” rally is being held by the Ukrainian-American Cultural Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

A KOIN 6 News crew heard the crowd chant and sing the Ukrainian national anthem. Someone in the crowd said the chant translates to “glory to heroes.”

For people with friends and family in Ukraine, watching the invasion unfold is heartbreaking and terrifying.

KOIN 6 spoke to Natasha Cherkez who has family in Ukraine. She said her mother immigrated her from Ukraine and her cousin, also named Natasha, lives in Kyiv.

She was understandably fearful and upset watching the Russian invasion live on TV Wednesday night.

“Was horrible. I’ve been there twice. It was awful to see the bombs in the air and thinking, ‘oh my god, she lives near the tramway, are they going to head for those things first?’ She’s ill, she’s not well. And she’s alone. And I worry so about her. I feel helpless, I feel sad, I feel absolutely miserable,” Cherkez said.

She’s hopeful someone who speaks Russian fluently might be able to help her contact her cousin.

Rally attendee Ginny Yavorskyi said “it’s really emotional, it’s just very scary and uncertain and we need to educate Portland. We need to step the word about helping Ukraine as much as possible.”

KOIN 6 also talked to a Vancouver pastor who said he spoke to his in-laws in Ukraine Wednesday night.

“Like one and half miles from his house, ballistic weapons destroyed some houses and like five people were killed, innocent people, not military. We’re concerned about our relatives,” Pastor Paul Demyanik of the Ukrainian Baptist Church said.

Like Cherkez, he’s been watching the Russian invasion unfold on the news.

“We have experience with the Soviet Union. We know what this means. He will not stop with Ukraine. He will move forward in Europe,” Demyanik said.