Beverly Hills City Council Passes Resolution in Support of Ukraine

Amid a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, video from Kyiv on March 1 showed multiple missiles strike near Babyn Yar, a memorial commemorating one of the bloodiest single mass killings of Jews in the Holocaust. Plumes of flame and smoke erupted from the site, killing five civilians in an apparent effort to take down a nearby TV tower, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

The shockwaves of the explosions rippled out across the world all the way to Beverly Hills, one of the only Jewish majority cities in the United States. That night, motivated in part by the potent symbolism of the rocket attack on Babyn Yar, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning Russia in uncompromising terms and standing in solidarity with Ukraine.

“The City of Beverly Hills strongly condemns with moral outrage the unjustified, unprovoked, premeditated, uncivilized, evil, barbaric, abhorrent and inhumane Russian invasion of Ukraine by the oppressive Putin regime,” the resolution reads.

Vice Mayor Lili Bosse quoted a tweet written earlier by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish and has family who died in the Holocaust.

“To the world: what is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?” Zelensky wrote. “History repeating.”

Bosse, who herself is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, said that the war represented a moment to exercise the lessons of history.

“Back in the Second World War, too many people were silent. This is a situation where we clearly have learned from history, and that we will not stay silent and we will stand strong and we will fight back in whatever way that we can fight back,” she said in voting to pass the resolution.

Babyn Yar, also known as Babi Yar, is a ravine in Kyiv where Nazi-led death squads killed more than 33,000 Jewish men, women, and children over two days in September 1941. Memorial staff have reported that the missiles did not damage the memorial. 

The resolution went beyond condemnation. It instructs staff to “research and implement any federal sanctions and other sanctions which the City has the authority to implement.” This includes levying possible sanctions against Russian oligarchs with assets in the city, divesting city money from funds with ties to Russian assets and terminating any contracts with Russian firms.  

Councilmember Julian Gold stressed that no option should be off the table, even asking if the city could impose additional taxes on Russian vodka – any action, either symbolic or tangible, “to affect either withdrawal or regime change” and “create pain amongst those who would support Mr. Putin.”

Given the timing of Russia’s assault, city staff did not have time to provide the Council with a list of possible actions, hence the broad language of the resolution, said City Attorney Laurence Wiener.

The resolution also makes Zelensky an honorary citizen of Beverly Hills. 

“We, here at home in our own city of Beverly Hills, can and are letting President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine know that they are not alone,” said Councilmember John Mirisch.

Ukraine has received messages of support and solidarity across Los Angeles since the start of Russian aggression. Supporters of Ukraine rallied in Westwood in front of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office over the weekend, gathering by the hundreds to denounce the Russian invasion and call on the international community for aid.

With over 100,000 Ukrainian-Americans settled in California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, many of the protesters came with personal connections to the conflict and real stakes should Russia prevail.

“Tonight, my mom is sleeping in a bathtub,” said Natasha, a Los Angeles resident whose parents live in the northeast of the country, where nearby shelling shakes their apartment building.

Neither Natasha nor her parents thought it would come to this, with her parents opting to remain in Ukraine even as President Vladimir Putin saber rattled and amassed nearly 200,000 troops on the border. She even joked with her mom and dad that they would rather face a Russian invasion than see their grandchildren in the United States.

Now, Natasha worries if her children will see Ukraine or their grandparents ever again. 

Ukrainian supporters, many from Ukraine with friends and family still there, gathered in front of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office on Saturday. Photo by Samuel Braslow
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