The War in Ukraine

Emma Schifferl, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

On Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russia made good on its threats and invaded the neighboring nation of Ukraine. Sending hundreds of thousands of troops, as well as tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, planes, and other war material, Russia planned to seize the country at the order of its president, Vladimir Putin.

When Putin first talked about entering Ukraine, he said that it was only two of the easternmost regions, which mostly speak Russian and want to be integrated into Russia. However, this plan didn’t last long; soon after some thinly-veiled threats, Russia was invading Ukraine in its entirety. Putin seems to have hoped for a quick and easy conquest of the country, but the citizens of Ukraine and others from around the world have refused to back down without a fight. 

Soon after Russia declared war, officials offered to evacuate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine from the country. However, even with the threat of assassination or torture, Zelenskyy refused to leave the country, instead arming himself and defending the country alongside its citizens. Zelenskyy has held strong, calling for peace talks with both Russia and Belarus, and made pleas to many countries, including the United States, requesting a Russian oil ban (which the U.S. government has imposed), arms and humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine (which the U.S. and many European governments have provided), and a no-fly zone over the country (something that NATO members are still not willing to enforce).

Zelenskyy has even requested that Ukraine be allowed to join the European Union, despite Putin’s threats. He has seemingly become a beacon of hope for the Ukrainian people and a heroic resistance leader in much of the democratic world. Zelenskyy is not the only Ukrainian politician who has resisted Russia. Former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko joined the fight, as have numerous other Ukrainian nationals, including celebrities, who have returned to the country to fight for their homeland.

No matter the resistance that Ukraine shows, Putin refuses to back down. Putin has put Russia’s nuclear weapons on high alert and sent more Russian forces into Ukraine. Russia isn’t doing this alone, as the country of Belarus, under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko, has allowed Russian troops to occupy space at the border of Ukraine and even use the country as an invasion route. As of this week, Lukashenko had relinquished much of his power to the Russian government, effectively making Belarus a Russian-controlled territory. Some officials speculate that Belarus will join the war on Russia’s side. If the Russians succeed in conquering Ukraine, there is talk of what might happen in Moldova and even the Baltic nations.  

The United States of America has implemented sanctions against Russia, such as cuts on trade, heavy sanctions on Russian oligarchs, and, most recently, a ban on all Russian oil imports. Russia accuses the United States of trying to start an economic war or getting over-involved in the region. Russia had said that it will step down if Ukraine allows some Russian occupation and immediately cut ties with the west and NATO-backed countries.  

With more difficult news being reported each day, your heart can’t help but break when hearing the news of Ukrainian citizens fighting for their lives against the invading Russian forces. Millions have fled the country, seeking refuge in places such as Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary, in hopes of escaping the ongoing violence that plagues the country. However, some are staying in Ukraine to fight. With martial law in effect, men between the ages of 18 and 60 must remain in the country. While some are joining the armed forces, others are standing their grounds as everyday citizens. Citizens have made thousands of Molotov cocktails for urban warfare, and many have taken up arms to protect their homeland. In interviews with ordinary Ukrainians, it is clear that Putin has no place in Ukraine, and they are willing to sacrifice everything to stop the Russian onslaught.