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Thursday, July 18, 2024

After a year of war, helping Ukraine should remain a top priority

Why a Ukrainian victory is necessary for the security of freedom around the globe

 

By MAYA KORNYEYEVA — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

 

Feb. 24, 2022, 5:55 a.m. Before the sun was even up, people all over Ukraine awoke to the sounds of missiles raining down on their cities, airports consumed by flames and rapid evacuation measures taking place. No one knew if the next hour would be their last. 

In the months prior, many politicians warned of the possibility of such an event, yet it seems no one actually believed Russian President Vladimir Putin would go through with his plans for a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. However, practically overnight, world leaders and citizens were faced with the bitter truth that a potentially long and destructive war was upon them.

That fateful morning, the news of a massive Russian military offensive spread throughout the world. My parents, who are first-generation Ukrainian immigrants, received frantic phone calls from dozens of friends and relatives — listening to their fearful accounts and predictions, I felt my heart drop to the very pit of my stomach, and I became consumed by helplessness and worry. 

As the head of an autocratic regime, Vladimir Putin has worked for the past two decades to re-establish rule over the neighboring country of Ukraine, wishing to erase and assimilate Ukrainian culture and prevent a possible Ukraine-NATO alliance. These efforts resulted in the annexation of Crimea, along with ongoing pro-Russian separatist movements in Donbas. 

As the first few days of the war progressed, hundreds of deaths were reported, and millions of people packed up and headed to the train stations with only the belongings they could carry, in hopes of escaping the oncoming storm of tanks, planes and troops. Eligible men joined the front lines, while still others volunteered to pack and ship supplies, transport citizens out of the country and launch a military response.

Ukraine was not going down without a fight. Resolved to protect their freedom, democracy and livelihoods — not to mention culture and language — the entire country mobilized with such determination that it seemed as though every person was unified behind the blue and yellow flag.

A year after the start of the war, much of the world is still backing a Ukrainian victory. After 12 months fraught with economic and environmental devastation, electrical grid failures, daily bombings and an immense loss of life, the overwhelming unity of the Ukrainian people has, so far, challenged the Russian military.

Despite fading from the frontlines of global news platforms, the war in Ukraine is still the largest current humanitarian crisis. Since the start of the war, close to 180,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, roughly 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians killed or wounded, and 14 million Ukrainians displaced. Many people underestimate the full scale of the conflict or have simply gotten used to the state of war ravaging Eastern Europe. We cannot let this complacency continue: enough is enough. 

We need to hold Russia accountable for the numerous war crimes its soldiers have committed during the last several months and the displacement of millions of Ukrainian citizens. Now more than ever is the time to donate to organizations that deliver medical supplies and basic necessities to Ukrainians still enduring a life torn by war. Some of these organizations include Razom for Ukraine, Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund and the Ukrainian Red Cross

Educating ourselves on the state of the conflict is another top priority. Russian media excels at hiding and manipulating information to justify going to war against Ukraine, arguing that Ukrainians are welcoming Russian soldiers with open arms, desiring to be free of a so-called “Nazi regime.” Of course, this could not be further from the truth. Even so, many are still being fed misinformation, and it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure only the truth about the conflict is heard.

Finally, a quicker victory for Ukraine can be boosted by stronger economic sanctions against Russia and a continued boycott of Russian exports. Additionally, petitioning your local government to advocate for greater military and informational aid to Ukraine is a crucial step that can secure a quicker democratic victory.

The end goal that we should all continue to strive for is a peaceful resolution that protects Ukrainian sovereignty. Repercussions of the loss of Ukraine’s independence would be felt across the globe; not only would an entire country be erased off the map, but Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and grain export chain would indefinitely be under Russian control. 

With the arrival of the one-year anniversary of the war, check in on those you know with connections to Ukraine and see what you can do to help. Every Ukrainian — including myself — whether still residing in Ukraine or not feels the massive burden of fear for the sake of their family and the future of their country. 

Any action, no matter how small, can make a big difference in ensuring the continuation of a free Ukraine.

 

Written by: Maya Kornyeyeva — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

 

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