Olga Bronetska, of Madison Heights, leads chants and songs through a megaphone during a demonstration Feb. 26 outside of the Warren office of U.S. Rep. John James.

Olga Bronetska, of Madison Heights, leads chants and songs through a megaphone during a demonstration Feb. 26 outside of the Warren office of U.S. Rep. John James.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Demonstrators urge James to support aid package for Ukraine

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published March 1, 2024


WARREN — Ukrainian Americans demonstrated in front of the Warren office of U.S Rep. John James twice on Feb. 26, demanding immediate action to aid Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Children, adults and senior citizens were among the nearly 40 people in attendance who carried signs, Ukrainian flags and American flags at the second demonstration of the day along Van Dyke Avenue north of 12 Mile Road, at 3 p.m. The group called on James, R-Shelby Township, who was not present, to support a proposed military and economic aid package for Ukraine and encourage his fellow Republican colleague, House Speaker Mike Johnson, to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

A $95 million package, approved by the Senate in February, remained stalled in the House at press time amid a broader political battle that included calls to secure the southern U.S. border.

Larysa Blysniuk, a member of the southeast Michigan Ukrainian community, said the bill has been delayed since November.

“It (the demonstration) turned out great. Ukrainians are learning advocacy because we are mostly calm in nature,” said Olena Danelyuk, a Ukrainian American. “Because the bill is frozen in the middle between the Senate and the House, we need to help Ukraine to move the needle.”

“He (James) was elected here,” Danelyuk added.

According to Danelyuk, there are nearly 50,000 Ukrainians living in Michigan. Many live in Warren, Troy, and Sterling Heights, which are part of District 10, which James represents in Congress. However, she said many Ukrainians do not believe they are receiving his support.

“We couldn’t count on his (James’) support as much as we need him,” Danelyuk said. “So we decided to bring our voice to him.”

According to Danelyuk, U.S. aid for Ukraine has run out and Ukrainian soldiers at the front are being forced to ration their ammunition while Republicans hold up military aid.

“This must change. Without U.S. aid, more Ukrainian soldiers and civilians will be killed,” Danelyuk said.

Other members of the Ukrainian community spoke out at the demonstration.

“Never could I have imagined bombs falling on my family in Ukraine, yet here we are. It is heartbreaking to see Ukraine aid held up by Republicans in Congress as Ukrainians continue to fight for their right to exist,” said Rochester Hills resident Marta Birko. “I have contacted Representative James to ask him to support the aid package to help Ukraine continue to fight against Russian attacks.”

Noah Sadlier, communications director for James, responded in a written statement that said, “John James has been a staunch friend of Ukrainian-Americans in Michigan. He has worked directly with the Ukrainian American Civic Committee of Metro Detroit to advance numerous priorities of theirs including supporting the Ukrainian Cultural Center’s application for 501(c)3 status. John and our team have hosted the Committee in our offices for numerous meetings, and look forward to continuing our partnership in the months and years ahead.”