Why you should care about the war in Ukraine


Maddie Berendt, Senior Managing Editor


With the United States military operations in Afghanistan only recently ending, many students are aware that wars are still very much a part of the geopolitical atmosphere.

However, current generations of young adults, teenagers, and children have rarely been  directly impacted by such conflicts, unless a loved one fought or was even wounded or killed overseas. Students also learn about our country’s major wars and the absolute devastation global events like World War II caused. While students are aware of the dangers in the world, there may not have been any event in the last 30 years more terrifying than the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On Feb. 24, in the early morning, Russia began sending troops and missiles into Ukraine, a former Soviet state who had been independent since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Many now fear that this could lead to the first major global conflict in nearly 80 years.

Of course it wasn’t something that just happened out of nowhere. There were threats, warnings, and press conferences where the U.S. government told the world exactly what was going to happen, according to their intelligence services. But because Ukraine is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or European Union (EU), they were on their own in terms of fighting this battle against an invading army. Russian troops immediately made attempts to take control of the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, as well as Chernobyl, a major nuclear power plant, and other cities that are on the border between the two countries. By the main method of bombing, according to The New York Times more than 100 bombs have been dropped within city limits, destruction beyond repair was inflicted to the country. As these actions continue, every individual who has fled Ukraine to one of the neighboring European countries will likely have to come to terms with not having a home to come back to. According to France24, about $100 billion in roads, bridges, hospitals, residences, and businesses have already been destroyed, and the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and US Congress have approved almost $20 billion in aid to be sent to Ukraine.

The public reaction in the United States to this entire event was not surprising, but it was disappointing. At this time due to social media anyone can see all the horrors and destruction of war.  This has led to desensitization to even the most horrific things, so when a child grows up learning about and seeing world leaders kill innocent civilians, many naturally feel detached from the carnage. That can be observed currently with what is happening in Ukraine.

The main issue with being desensitized to these conflicts is that people stop caring; a war breaking out suddenly becomes something they expect to be happening, like it’s no big deal. Americans are watching hospitals, schools, daycares, and museums getting bombed and people being mercilessly killed, yet many have a hard time caring because it doesn’t affect them directly or even have the audacity to complain about gas prices rising as a result. What the world is witnessing right now is devastation.

Innocent people are fleeing their homes, their families, and their country to try to survive. According to CBS News, the count is estimated to be around 10 million people have already fled to Poland, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, and Belarus. But from projections done by International Organization for Migration that number will quickly rise. But that’s not the worst of it. According to the United Nations (UN) humanitarian agency it’s believed that there are an additional 200 million people already internally displaced globally , meaning they have been removed from their homes but are currently remaining within their country. The UN has stated that what is happening currently is the fastest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

At this time it has been difficult to gain an exact number of those killed. According to The New York Times, officially 2,400 civilians have been identified but to a city government advisor it’s projected that this number is only a small handful. It’s believed that the count can grow up to 20,000.

On top of now losing their homes and their country, wives have to leave behind their husbands, and children have to leave behind their fathers and brothers. Due to the urgency for help securing territory and the safety of people relocating, every man ages 18-60 had to say behind. When it became clear this fight would not end within a matter of days, people from other countries came armed and ready to help defend the country.

While this invasion is not at this moment directly posing a threat to the United States, it is still the responsibility of those who are safe and able to care and to be concerned. Americans are spoiled and sheltered from what happens in less fortunate countries. Of course one can never fully understand a situation until a person has lived through it. But to treat broadcasts showing crying families crossing borders and cities falling like background noise is cruel.

To say we don’t need to care about this war that is not our own is selfish. A person would rather care about inflation than people they do not know losing a piece of themselves. Gas, groceries, and the stock market’s performance are important issues, but we have to have compassion for those who have much greater threats.

In an attempt to punish Russia economically, the White House ordered sanctions against the country pertaining to energy exports (oil, gasoline etc.). While it is not the main cause, this has played a small part in the rising gas prices seen hitting the United States at a rapid rate. According to USA Today, gas prices are the most expensive they’ve ever been. Peaking on Tuesday March 8 at $4.17 a gallon while the prior Monday, Feb. 28 gas was $3.61 a gallon.

What is currently happening right now in Ukraine is monumental and heartbreaking. To be throwing tantrums and blaming the President for high gas prices as the world is on the brink of such turmoil is sad.

World leaders are preparing for worst case scenarios of war while Americans worry about minor inconveniences. It is obvious the displacement of priorities for some individuals. Europe is facing a tyrant in Vladimir Putin at the moment, waiting for him to strike. And this tyrant has access to nuclear warheads, which is the most terrifying prospect of all of this. This is not the time for greed; this is the time to be aware of what is happening in the world and help those that you can financially if you have the means.

Instead of feeling angry about costs rising in the US, stop to wonder why. Life at the moment has been shaken up. Videos are surfacing of children dying from bombs being dropped on them, families are being left with nothing or killed as they are trying to reach safety, men are being left behind to defend their country. These events aren’t just playing on a loop on the tv they are taking place in real time.

One of the best things that can be done to show support and if possible donate. The Ukrainian Red Cross, World Central Kitchen, GlobalGiving Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, and Vostok SOS are some great organizations that are raising relief funds for the country and citizens.

Care about the fact that Putin is spiraling out of control and it is unknown when he will give up. Care about people who do not live in the United States. Care about anything other than insignificant inconveniences that make you mad at our government. The reality of this situation is scary and it is bigger than any of us could understand. The world could change drastically at any moment. It would seem foolish to cry about inflation when this country isn’t the one being terrorized day and night without an end.