Tampa protest held after largest hospital in Ukraine bombed

Outside Tampa City Hall, chants filled the air Wednesday evening as dozens of Tampa Bay area Ukrainians protested the latest bombing of the largest children’s hospital in the country.

"These are the kids outside the hospital, the bombed hospital getting chemotherapy. This is what’s happening in Ukraine," said Tetiana Chupryna, an organizer for the protest.

Two years into the war, they don’t want the casualties and their fight to be forgotten.

"It’s very, very hard for our families, for Ukrainian refugees who are here. Like my mother, she left her house. She left everything she had under occupation, and she came here with nothing," said Chupryna.

Some still have family in areas where rockets are a part of their lives. 

"I do have family in Ukraine. I do have family in Kharkiv, Ukraine. It’s out in the east, and it’s pretty close to Russia, and they are continuously getting bombed over there," said Yuriy Tymoshenko, a veteran who also attended the protest. "I served in the U.S. military for the last 25 years. So, for guys like us, we’ve seen things like this where evil always prevails if good men do nothing."

Wednesday, NATO declared Ukraine as being on an "irreversible" path to becoming a member of the military alliance. The University of South Florida’s Institute of Russian, European and Eurasian Studies director Golfo Alexopoulos said that sends a message.

"I think first of all the United States, NATO allies, they see that collaboration, cooperation with Ukraine will likely continue and that Ukraine will not be safe unless it has some security protections provided by NATO," said Alexopoulos, who is also a USF professor. "Now, it’s possible in the course of a negotiation with Russia to end this war that Ukraine settles for something just short of NATO membership, perhaps a bilateral agreement with the United States or others. But I think some kind of security guarantees for Ukraine moving forward is inevitable."

Experts like Alexopoulos said there are still questions about the next steps.

"Had more aid come more quickly to Ukraine maybe Russia wouldn’t have made so many territorial gains and annexed so much territory, so there is that concern," said Alexopoulos.

President Joe Biden hosted dozens of world leaders in Washington, D.C. for the NATO summit. Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reassuring the president that the U.S. will support Ukraine in the long term. Zelenskyy said decisive action against Russia must be taken in the months ahead before the next election.

"It's time to set out, to step out of the shadows, to make strong decisions, work to act and not to wait for November," said Zelenskyy.

Ukraine has been fighting to become a member of NATO. The military alliance assured the country will be allowed to join them, but only after the war with Russia ends to ensure Russia never attacks Ukraine again.

Ukrainians protesting in Tampa said they are thankful for the United States’ support, but what they need next is action.

"We do not ask you for boots on the ground. We just ask you for ammunition and world support and help us to finish the war," said Chupryna.

About 50 people showed up to the protest downtown Tampa, and several protesters said they appreciated the different ways people show their support for Ukraine.


SIGN UP: Click here to sign up for the FOX 13 daily newsletter