On February 24th, 2022, Ukraine was subjected to an air, land and sea bombardment from the Russian Armed Forces who would, over the coming year, invade, pillage and destroy thousands of homes and families. Hundreds of thousands of Russian Soldiers invaded Ukraine. The only thing standing between the Russians and victory were the strong and courageous Ukrainian forces defending their territory. With the first year anniversary of the invasion passing, I believe that it is appropriate to take the time to reflect on the impact of the war on the people of Ukraine, Ukraine itself and the world. On February 23rd, 2022, I went on my laptop after a long day of school to commence my homework. At around 9:30 PM, I got a notification that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, was going to deliver a speech. I was suspicious of a possible invasion in the days leading up to the 24th, with troops moving into the region, tanks being painted with invasion stripes and the high amount of political drama coming from the Kremlin. As I watched the stream, unbeknownst to me, the invasion had commenced. I watched the CNN streams as bombs fell on Kyiv, and as Russian forces crossed from Crimea, I knew that the conflict would not end soon.
After a year of fighting, the battle has not yet been won. Despite Ukrainian forces acting diligently, courageous and patriotically, there is still a significant number of Russian forces in Ukraine. These forces, in turn, have conducted horrific atrocities. For example in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast, members of the 64th Separate Motorised Rifle Brigade killed and tortured over 400 Ukrainian civilians and soldiers. Another example is the indiscriminate shelling of civilians in the Kharkiv region or Mariupol. The impact of the war on the people of Ukraine has been tremendous. Over 8 million Ukrainian civilians have left Ukraine as refugees and another 8 million have been internally displaced. The effects of the war have been no greater than on the people of Ukraine. The world knows what they have had to endure.
Before 2014, Ukraine was in the midst of a rebuild from the post Soviet era. During 2013-2014, Ukraine experienced widespread protests and demonstrations against the pro-Moscow government which decided against the signing of the European Union-Ukraine Association agreement. In 2014, Crimea was invaded by Russia and subsequently occupied by Russia. Ukraine has had its fair share of Russian meddling with its internal affairs, and this time, they hope that despite the invasion, they will reaffirm their sovereignty and push back Russia out of their country.
From an international perspective, we see the clear divide between the supporters of Ukraine and the supporters of Russia. Nato and Western countries such as Australia have heavily supported the Ukrainian cause by sending over humanitarian aid and military assistance. In particular, the United States has sent over dozens of tanks, helicopters and ammunition for them to weather through the war. A conflict of this magnitude has reunited the West through their cause to fight Russian expansion and support Ukraine. As the war drags on, there is much unknown to this conflict. However, I am certain that this war will leave a permanent mark on history and will shape future generations.