Charleston, in a show of solidarity, flies the Ukrainian flag above its City Hall

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The blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine began flying above Charleston’s historic City Hall on Friday afternoon, a symbolic gesture of the South Carolina city’s solidarity with the Eastern European democracy that is now facing invasion by neighboring Russia.

The Ukrainian flag was raised at the government building in downtown Charleston shortly after 1 p.m., a city spokesman confirmed.

In a statement, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg noted the city has raised the flags of other countries at City Hall in the past. However, those occasions were often in celebration, such as flying the Irish flag on St. Patrick’s Day and raising the French flag on Bastille Day.

“Today, we fly the flag of Ukraine for a more solemn reason — to recognize the extraordinary valor of the Ukrainian people as they fight for their democracy against a brutal Russian dictator,” Tecklenburg said.

Similar gestures of solidarity have taken place all over the world, particularly in Europe, with landmark buildings illuminated in the Ukrainian colors of blue and yellow, from the world-famous Roman Colosseum to London’s 10 Downing Street.

“We’re proud to stand in solidarity with the brave men and women of Ukraine, and hope Mr. Putin will heed the call of decent people the world over to immediately end this cruel and unjust war,” Tecklenburg said in his statement.

About 2,600 people who were born in Ukraine now live in South Carolina, according to 2019 Census figures, the latest available.

Spartanburg County has the largest population in South Carolina of people born in Ukraine, with 1,341 people. Charleston County, by comparison, is home to 128 Ukrainian-born individuals, according to those 2019 Census figures.

In a pre-dawn address on Russian television this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was attacking Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen.”

Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government.

In response, President Joe Biden has announced new sanctions designed to punish Russia and has ordered the deployment of thousands of additional troops to Germany, a NATO ally.

“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said in a televised address Thursday afternoon. “Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences.”

South Carolina leaders have also condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday night, the state’s senior U.S. Senator, Lindsey Graham, urged the world to “condemn Putin’s destruction of a neighboring democracy as a war crime.”

In his address on Thursday, Biden said America is a nation that stands up to bullies.

“We stand up for freedom. This is who we are,” Biden said. He then promised, “Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.”

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