Ongoing crisis between Russia, Ukraine stirs international fears

Isabella Whedbee, Staff Support Coordinator

Considered the largest European military mobilization since World War II, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has altered the landscape of modern politics into something this generation has never seen before.  

On February 24, Russia launched an invasion on the Ukrainian region of Donbas. Since then, international governments have condemned Russia’s involvement in the attack, citing the deaths of thousands of civilians.  

“My first reaction the the first Russian attack was definitely shock,”  said senior Sarah Garfield. “History is happening in front of us, and it mirrors what I’ve been learning in history for the past 4 years.”

The US has imposed over 1000 sanctions, which are economic penalties placed on people or businesses, to punish the Russian government.  The U.S. has provided nearly $300 million of aid to Ukrainian people, and have sent weapons to the country. 

Since then, a plethora of Western-based private businesses have left the country of Russia. McDonald’s has decided to temporarily close 800 stores in Russia, Netflix suspended its platform and all filming in the country, and Nike has discontinued its sales. 

The alliance of 27 European countries, also known as the European Union, has also issued collective agreements to penalize and sanction Russia. The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has said that his government has a “long-standing” goal to join the European Union. 

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine began in 2014, with the annexation, or occupying, of the peninsula region of Crimea from Ukraine, and Russian separatist groups began fighting with the Ukrainian military. Since then, escalations between the two governments have continued rising up, with the Russian government calling Ukraine’s attempts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also known as NATO, as a threat to the neighboring country. 

“Of course, there are many times in history when a country invades another based on its perspective that part of its territory rightfully belongs to them,” said AICE Global Perspectives instructor Ms. Zenaro. “The other perspective is the other country that is fighting to maintain its independence.”

Since February, Ukrainian men, women, and children had fled into neighboring countries as refugees. According to the United Nations, approximately 4.3 million have fled as of April 6, with over 2 million going into the neighboring country of Poland. The U.S. government has announced that they will accept 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. 

“When I first heard of the conflict I wasn’t surprised because there had been lots of tension between Ukraine and Russia for a while and it was only a matter of time before Russian soldiers invaded,” said senior Taryn Giel. “It was after they invaded that numerous crimes against humanity were committed and that just made my stomach turn.”

On March 13, an airstrike on a railway station in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk has killed at least 50 that were trying to evacuate from the area. Although Russia has denied having been involved in this attack, and has called their occupation of areas of Ukraine a “special military operation,” the United States Department of Defense has called these statements “unconvincing.” As of April 4, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, approximately 3,677 documented civilians have been killed in regions of Ukraine. Experts fear that the numbers are substantially higher. 

In addition, during the first day of attack, Russian forces took over the site of Chernobyl, where the site of the infamous 1986 nuclear meltdown took place.  However, this site has been taken back by the Ukrainian government, after Russian forces received radiation exposure and withdrew from the area. 

While, at first, Russia set its sights on taking over the capital city of Kyiv and other northern cities in a quick sweep, major oppositional forces had caused Russia to shift their strategy and take the offensive on Eastern Ukraine, including the town of Donbas. 

 The Russian and Ukrainian government have held rounds of peace talks to try and reach an agreement. However, weeks of peace discussions include “a demand for Ukraine to acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and to recognize the independence of the eastern separatists regions, something that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rejected.” according to AP News. Even so, President Zelensky has still stated that the Ukrainian government and people will still accept peace between the two countries.

“Humans are humans no matter where we live in the world and no one should be treated that inhumanly,” explained Giel. “In the future I hope that Ukrainians are able to recover from this terrible war and be able to share their stories with the world.”