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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

War in Europe

Russia invades Ukraine

Just before midnight Eastern time on Feb. 23, which was 6 a.m. the next day in Ukraine, Russian troops and tanks began pouring over the border checkpoints in Crimea, Donbass, Belarus and Eastern Ukraine. 

Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine has launched a massive refugee crisis in Europe, with at least 400,000 Ukrainians who have already fled the country. The United Nations (UN) estimates this number may increase to 5 million as the war continues, with most refugees going to neighboring Poland, Hungary and Romania. 

Despite previously hostile attitudes toward non-European refugees, with the current crisis hitting so close to home, these nations have opened their doors to those fleeing the war. 

Many Ukrainians are staying behind, out of necessity and choice, especially the men of Ukraine. With martial law and the draft now imposed, newly enforced Ukrainian laws make it illegal for men aged 18-60 to flee. Instead, they must enlist in the military to fight for their homeland. 

Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, has faced relentless assault from both the land and air. Even though the U.S. government offered to help the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, evacuate, he chose to stay behind even as the city was fending off multiple Russian attacks. 

On the night of Feb. 25, Zelensky, surrounded by his government ministers, urged Ukranians to keep up the fight saying, “This night we must persevere. The fight will be hard, very hard, but morning will come.” 

While Ukraine’s military is outgunned and outmatched by Russia’s far larger and better equipped troops, they have made Putin pay for every inch of Ukraine. Russia has found limited success in destroying  Ukrainian military installations, like the now famous bombing of Snake Island in the Black Sea. There, 13 Ukrainian troops bravely refused to surrender to a Russian warship before the Russian navy opened fire and left no survivors. 

The costs of war have been high for both countries after less than a week of fighting. While many expected Ukraine to be brutalized by the invasion, Russia too has faced immediate harsh consequences for its invasion. This is partially due to how the world anticipated Russia’s aggression, with the U.S. and EU sanctioning Russia and Vladimir Putin himself the same day war broke out. Unlike the 2014 invasion of Crimea, which resulted in multilateral sanctions against Russia taking months to enforce, these sanctions have been immediate. 

While Russia’s cities aren’t under attack, they’re still facing wartime austerity. Thousands of Russians have protested against the war, even under the threat of arrest and imprisonment. Unfortunately, that means there is pressure on Putin and the Russian military to achieve swift victory, no matter the cost. This mentality has meant that Russia has been relentless in it’s assault as Putin hopes to avoid a drawn out war. 

Many bridges and other choke points at the Ukraine-Russian border have been the scene of life or death battles. Often, the only thing keeping the Russian tanks at bay is an intersection or bridge that holds the fate of entire cities. The Ukrainian military has even confirmed that engineer Vitaliy Volodymyrovych Skakun volunteered to blow up the Genichesky Bridge himself, giving up his life to delay Russia’s advance. 

Against all odds, Ukraine is seemingly holding on for now. While there has been an outpouring of support for Ukrainians around the world, it’s unknown how long Ukraine will be able to hold off Russia’s onslaught. 

It may be indefinite, with Ukraine turning into another Afghanistan for Russia. Or, Kyiv could fall tomorrow with Russia rolling over the entire country. Either way, more suffering is yet to come. We can only hope that the support for Ukraine continues and nations continue to open their doors to at least lessen some of the suffering.

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