Fourteen local constituents, including some Binghamton University students, traveled to Washington, D.C. on Sunday to advocate for increased congressional assistance to Ukraine as part of the third-ever Ukraine Action Summit. Hundreds of delegates from across 34 states attended the three-day-long summit, which officially concluded on Tuesday.

The fall 2023 summit, organized by the American Coalition for Ukraine — a group of 75 smaller groups who work to ensure that the United States continues to pursue pro-Ukrainian policies — began with a series of panel discussions led by Ukraine experts, followed by a dinner and several speeches made by VIP speakers. Summit attendees prepared for their meetings with congressional offices the following day by attending training sessions on “how to be an advocate” for a cause. The delegates then received the opportunity on Tuesday to meet with the offices of several congressional representatives, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Marc Molinaro.

According to its website, the coalition’s overall mission is to bring together a diverse group of organizations that support Ukraine’s right to “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity.” Two coalition summits have been held previously in September 2022 and April 2023, designed to foster connections between advocates and pro-Ukrainian members of Congress.

The Together for Ukraine Foundation, a Binghamton-based organization that advocates for increased direct funding to Ukraine, sponsored the 14 delegates who attended the summit. In a statement, Christina Zawerucha, the foundation’s executive director, said that the opening of the summit comes at a key moment.

“Support for Ukraine at this time is critical,” the statement read. “We look forward to thanking our elected officials for their past support and offering our organizations as a local resource for their offices.”

Albina Martynenko, a freshman majoring in business administration, and Vlada Lisova, a sophomore majoring in accounting, attended the discussions and spoke with several congressional offices. Before the summit began, Lisova described why it was important for her to attend.

“I am attending the Ukraine Action Summit because I believe in justice in the United States and the strong connection between America and the rest of the world,” Lisova said.

Delegates urged members of Congress to focus on several different policies and specific pieces of legislation they felt would urgently assist the Ukrainian war effort. Both Martynenko and Lisova recounted several pieces of legislation that they advocated for passage. One important resolution would declare that certain Russian actions, like forced displacement, committed against Ukrainian citizens constitute genocide and further urge the United States and its allies to continue funding Ukraine’s defense. The Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity for Ukrainians (REPO) Act was another advocated measure that would promote Ukrainian interests by providing the nation with additional funding.

This advocacy push came shortly after last week’s announcement by President Joe Biden pushing Congress to pass a $105 billion aid package to assist several countries abroad. $61.4 billion would be allocated to Ukrainian military and economic assistance.

Lisova recognized the existence of this challenge but felt confident that Ukraine would have continued support.

“We feel the support, and we feel that they believe in us,” Lisova said. “They agree that we all fight for freedom, that if Ukraine falls, the world is going to collapse.”

Both Lisova and Martynenko plan on establishing a student advocacy organization on campus called Binghamton Project Ukraine. The club would help students on campus contribute to assisting Ukraine.

“There’s a lot of ways to help,” Martynenko said. “It does not necessarily have to be money donations, but any awareness is [needed] … There are ways to donate food or clothes — a lot of people who were at the Ukrainian Action Summit were not Ukrainian — and those people make a difference when we see their support.”