A Country Engulfed In War

A Country Engulfed In War

Jake Santora, Video Editor

As many know by now, there is a horrific war between the countries of Ukraine and Russia. 


The conflict, which officially began on February 24, 2022, has managed to tear any semblance of peace between the two countries and has released bloodshed not only amongst troops, but also innocent civilians. 


Russia initiated this attack in an attempt to seize the country in a quick manner. However, Ukrainian forces and civilians, instilled with valor and nerve, have been able to defend themselves and project a strong fight against the Russian military under the great leadership of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


The majority of the world sides with Ukraine and supports their courageous struggle to maintain their independence. Individual countries in N.A.T.O., a military alliance of certain countries spanning across both Europe and North America, have been supplying Ukraine with military aid and equipment such as medical supplies, ammunition, and weapons.


The devastation of war is highly evident through the absolute destruction of Ukrainian land, and even more so, the loss of homes for so many innocent civilians. 


Possible death and the imminent destruction of their living situations has forced Ukrainian citizens to leave their homes and hopefully find haven in Poland and other neighboring countries taking in refugees.


As part Ukrainian myself, I am utterly disgusted by the atrocities occurring in the country, and I hope that I can make an impact in some way.


When the invasion had officially begun, my family’s restaurant, the Lyndora Hotel, stopped serving Russian spirits and vodka. Word of this decision spread fast, and even The Butler Eagle jumped at the opportunity to write a story about it.


The effort to support Ukraine didn’t end there though. Since then, we have also held a fundraiser at our restaurant serving traditional Ukrainian cuisine which made over $16,000, with all benefits going to the Brother’s Brother Foundation, which supplies reinforcements to Ukraine.  


The event was such a success that we launched yet another fundraiser which consisted of traditional Ukrainian cuisine, a 50/50 raffle, basket raffles, and the auctioning of painted eggs made in Ukraine. There was a massive turnout of people not only wanting to donate, but to also volunteer for such an important cause.


It is absolutely vital that the nation continues to unite with a common goal to assist the Ukrainian people and defend their independence and culture in any way possible.


To better understand the conflict, I turned to history and social studies teachers’ Mrs. Lemmon, Mr. Zebrine, and Mr. King.


Mrs. Lemmon


What do you have to say about the casualties of innocent Ukrainian citizens?


One word. Unbelievable. I cannot believe that this unprovoked full scale military invasion of Ukraine by Vladi

mir Putin and Russian forces is happening and continues to unfold as we live our everyday lives, halfway around the world. A few days ago, I turned on the news to hear that the most recent bombing had taken place on a maternity ward in Mariupol, Ukraine. This meant that the Russian forces had launched an airstrike on a hospital filled with mothers and their newborn children. Women and children. As unbelievable as this is, it is equally heartbreaking. I do not know how anyone could justify this heinous act. While this is just one example, there are many others including the refugee crisis occurring in Poland and neighboring countries. Ukrainians are fleeing for their lives with just a backpack on their backs, leaving everything they know behind, for an uncertain future. 


What else do you think the U.S. can do to better support the Ukrainians?


Unfortunately, I feel like the United States’ hands are tied. There is a fine line that we and other supportive nations are walking. Many want to provide military and humanitarian aid, but are afraid of how Russia may retaliate leading to a full scale war. Many Americans, including Congressmen and women, want to send aid to Ukraine supporting their wishes to remain an independent or sovereign nation. As late as March 9, 2022, the House of Representatives approved $13.6 billion in Emergency Aid for Ukraine as a bipartisan measure. I feel like this is a small price to be paid in order to save democracy as the eyes of the world are watching. 


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


As an educator and historian, I cannot help but see the striking similarities between Putin and Hitler in their conquest to control more land. Hitler originally wanted to “ unite the German speaking countries” of Germany and Austria since they shared a common culture and language. Shortly thereafter, he set his sights on the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia which drew the attention of other European nations like Great Britain and France. The last straw was when he defied warnings to stop invading European countries and instead executed his plan, Case White, by invading Poland on September 1, 1939. With this invasion, WWII officially began. 


Months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin published an essay entitled, “On the historical unity of Russia and the Ukraine”. Within this essay, he argues how Ukrainians do not have a history, identity or culture of their own and for that reason, should be united under Russia and Putin’s rule, of course. Likewise, within the essay he focuses on the linguistic and shared culture of the two countries. This is history repeating itself. My question is, what will happen next if Putin is not stopped?


Finally, since Russia does not have freedom of the press, it has led to the abuse of Russian media through usage of propaganda. Many Russians believe that their country has not invaded Ukraine and has not been malicious in any way, but instead is sending humanitarian aid by distributing food and warm clothing. Another similarity of Russian propaganda was its use during the Cold War. Russians citizens were never aware of the Cuban Missile Crisis while it was occuring in October 1962. The connection we need to make in these circumstances is that if we do not analyze and study the past, it is sure to repeat itself. We are seeing it happen as we speak in Russia and Ukraine.   


Mr. Zebrine


What is your opinion on the war in Ukraine?


Clearly, the war in Ukraine, waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is an unjust war that he chose.  It will not be surprising if the U.N.’s International Court of Justice verifies crimes against humanity.  Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has already claimed Putin’s military has committed acts of genocide against innocent Ukrainians.  It will be interesting to see how nations that accepted the world order as “settled” following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s “re-orders” itself during – and following – this terrible war.  International politics have changed – we just don’t know to what degree and how so until more time passes.  Rightly so, international humanitarian aid is flowing to the Ukrainians, who did nothing to warrant these criminal attacks.  


What is the reason(s) there is conflict?


The reasons for this conflict are complex.  One source of the conflict is Putin’s increasing megalomania.  It’s what the ancient Greeks saw as our great flaw – hubris – or prideful self-deception.  Putin has carefully crafted a Russian state system that serves his interests since rising to power in 1999, but by nearly all indications, he miscalculated on this attack.  Another source of the conflict is Putin’s twisting of history to justify his war of choice and recover some of the territory and influence of the old Soviet Union.  While it is true that Ukrainians and Russians share many fraternal bonds – the first Russian prince was baptized as a Christian inside the current nation of Ukraine, Ukrainians were part of the Russian Empire for many years, and their Slavic cultures are very similar – Ukraine has for a long time seen itself as a separate nation.  Even though Russia agreed to this fact in something called the Budapest Agreement of 1994, Putin has chosen to ignore that previous agreement that forced Russia to respect Ukraine’s borders.  I think Putin thought that Ukraine would not heavily resist, its government would quickly collapse, that NATO (and the world) would not be so united, that his military units would be prepared and overpower the Ukrainian military, and that his propaganda would be effective in calling the Ukrainians “Neo-Nazis”.  Clearly, he was wrong on all counts. 


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


I wish the best for the Ukrainian victims in this war and hope they achieve a peaceful resolution soon.


Mr. King


Do you think this could possibly lead to a third major worldwide conflict?


Yes, I do, unfortunately. It is as close as the world has been to a worldwide conflict in the post World War II era. Russia is not buckling to international condemnation or economic sanctions; the next step is active military engagement by NATO.


How do you think the conflict can be resolved?


It seems that the only thing that can resolve this crisis is that the war becomes too painful for Putin & Russia. Ukraine is set on defending its independent status which the rest of the world supports- even if Russia wins this war, history has proven that they will gain nothing in the long run.