Written by Heidi Blythe and Rachel Blythe (Class of 2022)
Early in the morning of 24 February 2022, people were jostled awake by large explosions centered around major cities and towns, including the capital, Kyiv. They sounded at almost the same instant that Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, announced to the world his invasion of Ukraine. Russian military troops already positioned around Ukraine in Crimea, Belarus and near Eastern Ukraine began their assault by targeting cities, airports and military infrastructure, oftentimes targeting civilians to progress quicker into Ukraine’s heart. A war with global repercussions has begun. We are living right in it, shocked, afraid and ignorant.
For students at DVGS to be more informed about the current global situation, we invited Dr. Patterson and Ms. Applebee to hold a forum on March 8, 2022. To begin, Dr Patterson gave students an overview of the history and human geography of Ukraine. After gaining its independence from the USSR in 1991, Ukraine has sought to join NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization). NATO was founded after WWII in 1949 by the US and its European allies to deter any expansion of the then-Soviet Union (USSR). By joining in alliance with NATO, Ukraine’s international military backing would significantly increase and thus act as a firm deterrent to Russian aggression. However, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly demanded that NATO promise to never admit Ukraine into its alliance and has justified the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a way to cease NATO’s expansion eastward.
Ukraine is no stranger to war. Armed conflict erupted in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 after Russia’s forced annexation of Crimea, a peninsula under Ukraine territory. To this day, Russian-supported separatist forces still bring down devastating violence on Ukraine’s eastern front of Donetsk and Luhansk. When missiles rained down on cities, and columns of Russian troops began streaming into the countryside, Ukrainians rushed to take shelter in bus and subway stations. Families packed up their cars and rushed to humanitarian corridors established to aid the evacuation of civilians. Civilian volunteers and paramilitary groups stayed behind to help Ukrainian forces push back against the Russian advance. International sanctions from the United States and allies have gone into effect, making it harder for Russian companies to raise money or import goods.
“How far can we go to help Ukraine without causing Putin to unleash the consequences he threatened?” a student questioned. As provided by Dr. Patterson and Ms. Applebee, the answer to this is unclear. If NATO were to grant Ukraine’s request for a no-fly zone or deploy troops to Ukraine, then they would be in direct combat with Russia which might trigger a larger nuclear war. However, if we continue to be bystanders and watch this war go by, many innocent lives would be at risk. Thus, as students, teachers, or parents of the community, we can help by donating to Ukraine relief efforts, stay updated with the news, and be aware of what the government plans for the future. To end the Russia-Ukraine Forum, the teachers and students wholeheartedly recited Om Mani Padme Hum to dedicate our merit and virtue to Ukrainians.
Special thanks to Dr. Patterson and Ms. Applebee for their insights on the Russia-Ukraine War!
Ukraine Live Updates: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/03/13/world/ukraine-russia-war