SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- As the crisis in Ukraine escalated Saturday, hundreds of Ukrainians and their supporters gathered at San Francisco's Embarcadero Plaza. The sheer brutality of Russia's attack has shocked the world community and there is a call to take action now before it's too late.
It wasn't just Ukrainians who showed up -- people of all nationalities seem stunned by what's happening.
"It's surreal," said San Francisco resident Alex Hoye. "It feels like we're going back in time to the 50s and 60s. It feels like a 20th century war using 21st century weapons."
Video showed Russian forces moving into Ukraine, often randomly attacking civilian targets, in mayhem reminiscent of the Nazis' blitzkrieg of European nations in the 1930s.
"Americans! Putin is not going to stop in Ukraine!" Nataliya Aron told the crowd. The Ukrainian-American said the entire world must act quickly before her homeland is overwhelmed by a far superior force.
"It's defending itself fiercely but it's a David versus Goliath battle," she said. "If the world will not step in ... I'm, I'm...we have to help! The whole world has to help Ukraine, at this point."
Margarita Osipov was in tears as she gazed out at the crowd. She is of mixed nationality and was so torn up that she actually said she felt guilty about being able to speak Russian.
"Right now, I can see people rallying and thank God they're not talking about peace. Because it's not about peace right now. War has been started and it's in our country and what we need is their support," she said.
There were Russian nationals in attendance as well. A young man named Vitali said those of his countrymen who support the attack believe they are somehow defending other Russians in Ukraine. He said Vladimir Putin has used state media to feed the Russian people lies and is now keeping the truth about the invasion from them.
"I'm almost crying. It's devastating, it's really devastating," he said. "I have friends in Ukraine, lots of relatives in Ukraine, and it just blows my mind. There's no goddam reason for this to happen! I think the guy is just insane. I mean, he's out of his mind."
San Jose resident Ken Borelli isn't Ukrainian but he wondered how Putin could have amassed the power to do this.
"It's just stunning to me how one man could galvanize a country to declare war and savagely brutalize another country," he said. "It's just incomprehensible."
Organizers said Ukrainians and their supporters planned to gather again in front of San Francisco City Hall on Sunday at 2 p.m.
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