Ukraine, one year of fighting in

Fin Worrall , Staff Writer

The invasion of Ukraine has been a blunder for Russia. 

Instead of being dismissed as an irrelevant and ineffective organization, the invasion of Ukraine has created a burning new energy in NATO. Countries that weren’t already part of the organization, like Finland and Sweden, have abandoned their stances of neutrality and are clambering to get in.

Russia is the villain of the world. Despite its hopes that it could take over Ukraine without much opposition, it has become the subject of heavy sanctions from across the world, and has begun a new cold war with NATO.

The war has instated a sense of pride and identity in the Ukrainian people that they can be an independent nation, free from the shackles that Moscow has placed on them.

Yet, the year hasn’t been completely negative for Russia. With the annexation of Crimea and the gains from the invasion, Russia has seized 18% of Ukraine’s territory, decimating much of it to crumbling ruins. Ukraine’s economy? Crushed, declining by a third. Russia’s economy has only decreased by 2.3%, and is expected to grow next year. Ukraine now requires Western powers to pay for the entirety of the war, all weapons, salaries, and humanitarian aid are paid from the pockets of other countries.

In the space of a few days, Ukraine went from a country that most Americans would not be able to place on a map, to the most covered country in the world. 

How did this happen?

In the months leading up to the beginning of the war, Russia began to build up troops on their border with Ukraine. Despite the Kremlin’s assurances that it was only routine military operations, satellite photography showed a buildup of artillery and hundreds of thousands of Russian troops amassing along the border.

The early morning of the 24th of February, 2022, President Volodymyr Zelensky, former TV actor and comedian, made a call for peace to the Russian people, looking youthful and sporting a suit and tie, a stark contrast to the scruffy beard, eye bags, and olive-green shirt that he would come to wear. At 6:00 AM Moscow time, Putin announced a “special military operation.” Minutes later, bombs were heard all across the country. Air sirens began to sound. The invasion had begun.

Russia opened up fronts from the North, East, and South, attacking through Crimea, Donetsk, and Belarus, aiming an attack at the capital, Kyiv. Despite the fears of many that Kyiv would fall due to Russia controlling key areas around the city, Ukrainian resistance and poor logistics from the Russians allowed Ukraine to push back and launch a counter-offensive that would secure the safety of Kyiv.

In September, after steady territory gain from the Russians for some months, Putin annexed 4 parts of eastern Ukraine. Putin threatened that he would defend the region with nuclear bombs, reigniting fears that Russia would begin a nuclear war. Additionally in September, the Ukrainians achieved a major victory, creating a lightning offensive that won a large part of territory in the Kharkiv region. Soon afterwards, Russia withdrew out of the sole regional capital that it had captured, Kherson, a humiliating defeat. 

After this brief period of action, came one a stalemate that has sustained until today, with neither Ukraine and Russia making advancements in either direction. 

The scale of the fallout has been incalculable. Throughout the duration of the war, over 13 million Ukrainians have been displaced, a third of the population, a humanitarian crisis of an unimaginable size.

While murky, the death toll has been estimated at 200-300 thousand people, with about 10,000 of those Ukrainian civilians. The amount of blood that has stained the streets, the number of communities consumed, the families ripped apart, the mass graves dug is hard to fathom.

Many of these casualties are due to the Russian government throwing inexperienced troops to the front lines so they can take the brunt of the Ukrainian force, forging a path for the most experienced troops to come behind. To Russia, the life of one of its soldiers is worth nothing. To Russia, the pain and suffering of a human is worth it if it means that they can continue to move their troops forward. 

On top of this, Russia has committed over 65,000 war crimes since the beginning of the war, prohibiting 5 million children from going to school, creating a global food crisis, attacking critical energy infrastructure in the middle of winter, and using widespread rape and sexual assault as a method of warfare.

Children are even sent to school wearing stickers identifying their blood type in the case of bombings.

The war has now lasted a year, and with the continuing stalemate, it is hard to know when exactly the war and bloodshed will finally end. Predictions are difficult, especially considering that a year ago, experts wouldn’t have said that Ukraine would still be in the war today. Yet, driving Russia out of Ukraine will be a difficult task, even with the likelihood of Ukrainian counter-offensives in the spring. With Moscow not willing to negotiate, their demands non-starters, it will be a challenge to come to an agreement to end the war. 

Yet, the resolution will need to come out of either a continuing, exhausting stalemate that wears out both sides, or some sort of decisive victory from either side. Which one of those will come is to be seen.

PA is far away from the front lines. However, as the war progresses the PA student body can help the Ukrainian people by not only donating, but staying informed and up to date on the information. Ukraine will continue to need Western help, and that funding will only come if we continue to stay informed about the events happening in Ukraine.


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