Full-Scale War Anniversary: Why Continuing to Help Ukraine Matters

by Oleksandra Volakova

On February 24, 2022, Ukraine shuddered with the bombing, shootings, crying, and screaming. A real war, usually practiced in history books and movies, was witnessed by civilians the hard way, with their habitat destroyed along with the dreams and hopes they held for the future.

For the past two years, Ukraine has lived – no, tried to stay alive – with the constant sound of air raid alert, destruction of hospitals and schools, atrocities, rapes, and grief over people’s broken lives. Some regions of Ukraine have lived in such conditions for ten years; the actual war began in 2014, not in 2022, when Russia illegally occupied Crimea and invaded the Donbas region. Support from Europe and the US is decreasing due to the war’s protractedness, and it has become harder for Ukraine to maintain its army and air forces; it inevitably leads to more strikes of critical infrastructure and loss of people’s lives. 

The vital package of military aid from the White House is stalled despite the compromise discussed between Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. As long as it remains a bone of contention, my family and friends back in Ukraine will suffer from constant bombing, constantly guessing whether the explosions they hear are air defense actions or another part of my town’s history being destroyed. 

Living safe and sound, people might not see why they should be concerned about a faraway country – easier to ignore if it doesn’t affect you directly. ‘Wars don’t start with explosions – they start with silence’ (Oscar-nominated picture “20 days in Mariupol”). This indifference gives the green light to the invader to continue causing atrocities. Europe’s feelings about the ongoing war shifted from sympathy and compassion to the fear of military conflict spreading on its territory. This anxiety is not groundless – the world’s reaction to Putin’s actions and political actors’ statements prove it. 

Poland has already witnessed Russian missiles violating its airspace; one rocket was discovered after flying through 500 km (310 mi) of Polish territory. Unsatisfied with how much money European countries contribute to NATO, Former President Donald Trump encouraged Putin to “do whatever Russia wants” to them. His encouragement of Russia’s further military actions makes Putin feel invulnerable. As history shows, if the aggressor can proceed – it will, and believing this will not happen is naive. 

Just a week before the full-scale invasion, people did not believe it could happen. In 2013, they did not believe that Russia could occupy Ukrainian eastern regions and Crimea after arrogating Ukraine’s nuclear weapons and becoming a ​​guarantor of security due to the Budapest memorandum. Over the history of the Russian Federation (from 1991), it has been involved in military conflicts with Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Chechnya, Yugoslavia, Dagestan, Syria, Central African Republic – some of them are still ongoing. A full-scale invasion of Ukraine is one of the victims of this eager-for-blood hunter.

Russia has ambitions, and Putin’s war machine won’t stop once it gets away with killing innocent people and seizing the territory of an independent sovereign European state. Helping Ukraine to win this time means stopping Putin’s war machine from slaughtering innocent people.

Photo Credit: Vincent Haiges