By Karen Zraick and Mable Chan | The New York Times

NEW YORK >> The Russian consulate in New York was vandalized with spray paint Friday morning, according to police.

Around 1:30 a.m. Friday, officers responded to a 911 call about vandalism to the front of a building on East 91st Street, just off Fifth Avenue, police said.

No words were visible, just broad lines of red paint spread across the front of the building’s ground floor, a set of windows and double doors. But some on social media and bystanders interpreted the vandalism as a protest against Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

The vandalism came hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a bellicose speech in Moscow about the annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

Some people stood in front of the consulate on Friday morning to express their support for Ukraine.

Maria Phillips, 39, who was born in the Soviet Union at the time and now lives in London, took pictures of the scene.

“I feel inspired by it,” he said. “It clearly stands for blood, that Russia is responsible, killing Ukrainians and sending people to die in war, which is senseless and cruel and stupid.”

Marina Kovalenko, 57, a personal trainer who lives nearby, saw photos of the paint on social media and rushed to catch a glimpse. To him, it was a work of art, and he praised the vandals and offered to bail them out if they were caught.

Police said no arrests have been made, and the incident was treated as a possible bias incident.

“I always thought about spraying the flag, but I’m short,” Kovalenko joked. “And I know it’s criminal.”

She said that she moved to America from Russia 11 years ago but her family stayed there. He added that he thinks the paint should remain until the Russian government changes course.
He said that I wish I had the courage to do this myself.

Julia Krushelinsky, a Ukrainian-American senior at Spence School across the street from the consulate, cried as she surveyed the scene. She said that it was very difficult for her to go to school every day because the war was starting.

“It’s very emotional to have such a visual representation of the Russian consulate every day, which is a bit difficult for me,” he said.

The Russian consulate referred questions about the incident to the US State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A sign on the consulate door said all appointments were canceled for the day.

This story Originally published in the New York Times.

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