Russia started invading Ukraine this past week and casualties are mounting as Ukraine tries to hold off the Russian forces and protect its democracy.
The invasion is sparking a humanitarian crisis as Ukranians are fleeing into Eastern Europe, and casualties are mounting with at least 364 killed, including 25 children, and 759 injured. The U.N. is calling for a cease-fire to allow civilians to flee from conflict areas.
The conflict goes back to the breakup of the former Soviet Union in 1989.
“Ukraine declared Independence from Russia at the end of the Cold War,” Mr. Anthony Hofer, head of the Social Studies department said. “They do not want Russian influence over their government and want to build stronger ties with western Europe.
“They basically said we are our own people, we don’t want to follow your government.”
Russian aggression began in 2019 after Ukraine began talking about joining NATO, an alliance of European countries and the United States. If Ukraine joined NATO, then almost all of Russia’s neighbors would be a part of NATO and Putin calls this a “fundamental threat” against Russia.
Russia believes that historically Ukraine is a part of Russia and it should go back that way, but Ukrainians want their independence, Mr. Hofer explained. Ukrainians and Russians speak different dialects of the same language. It’s like how Americans and Canadians can have conversations with each other, but the U.S and Canada aren’t the same country.
There were Russians in Ukraine when they declared independence, and they wanted to break away. Separatist fighting has been going on in the Eastern part of Ukraine for years, giving Russia its excuse for the invasion.
“If Mexican-Americans, living in Texas, used a similar argument, then it would center on the fact that Texas used to be a part of Mexico,” Mr. Hofer said..
“Therefore, the Mexican Army has a right to enter Texas in order to “protect” Mexican-American minorities who are being “mistreated” by the U.S. Government.
“If that happened, then the United States would consider that an invasion.”
The U.S and other NATO countries are siding with Ukraine to help them in the war. The U.S put sanctions on Russia. Basically cutting off Russia’s access to banks. The U.S and other NATO countries are supplying Ukraine with military equipment.Some Russians were protesting against the war, but the police shut it down and arrested hundreds of the protesters.
“Ukraine is not going out without a fight,” Social Studies teacher Tom Kelly said.
Ukraine has been doing a good job at holding off Russian forces although Russia captured a key port last week. Most people thought Ukraine wouldn’t stand a chance against Russia knowing how much bigger their military is compared to Ukraine.
“This on paper looks good, but Russia hasn’t been using their full power,” Mr. Kelly said. “They could easily reduce Ukraine’s towns to rubble if they wanted to, but if they did they would create more animosity from Europe and other countries that banded together to denounce war.”
The world is hoping Russia holds back or retreats from Ukraine.
“If Russia takes over Ukraine it might embolden Putin to try and reestablish the Soviet bloc that they had during the Cold War,” Mr. Kelly said. “If that happens it could be a whole different can of worms.”
The rest of the world is dealing with the impact of the war in the form of rising gas prices, and fear the conflict could ultimately end with nuclear war.
“I really don’t know what would happen if Russia gets pushed back out of the Ukraine,” Mr. Kelly said. “Putin has updated the readiness of his nuclear arsenal (which is vast) but that is an all in strategy. If he uses those then it could lead to nuclear war with other countries which would destroy just about everything.
“They could find a peaceful resolution (which the two countries are meeting today to talk about) so we’ll see how that goes, but Putin isn’t a back down kind of guy. It will be interesting to see what happens.”