March Centerfold: Ukraine Invasion

For 45 years, the Western world worried about teetering on the edge of war with the Soviet Union; when the wall in Berlin fell, and the Soviet Union dissolved into independent republics, the world sighed with relief and hoped for peace. However, with the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the illegal annexing of Crimea in 2014, tensions again began to rise. In recent weeks, Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, has pushed a list of demands on Ukraine. 

These requirements include Ukraine’s acknowledgment of Russia’s ownership of Crimea and the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk, pro-Russian separatist areas in Ukraine, and a guarantee of Ukraine not joining NATO. Because of their attempts to hold onto their independence and safely secure themselves within NATO, Ukraine has angered Russia, which has been brutally attacking them. Refugees of Ukraine have fled to Poland, Germany, and other neighboring countries. 

President Zelensky of Ukraine has repeatedly asked the world for help. But, the world’s sanctions have come too late and not been strong enough to prevent the Russian military from moving in to attack the capital, Kyiv. The U.S. and other soldiers and civilians in surrounding countries are assisting with humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine. Whether or not these supporting countries will cross Ukrainian borders and fight alongside those soldiers has yet to be decided. The threat of another world war is prevalent, and the world finds itself again on the edge of safety and security.

In Dec. 1991, Ukraine declared independence from Moscow shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union.  The Ukrainian citizens overwhelmingly supported becoming a sovereign state and separating from Russia although Ukraine has a sizable population of ethnic Russians.

Then on Dec. 5, 1994, the Budapest Memorandum was signed following Ukraine’s agreement to transfer all nuclear weapons from the Cold War to the Russian Federation, making Ukraine a non-nuclear power.  Until this, they had the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile.  The agreement was also signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia.  All the signatories committed to honoring Ukraine as a sovereign state and its rights to its territory.

In 2004, a pro-Russian candidate, Viktor Yanukovich was declared president but allegations of vote-rigging triggered protests, known as the Orange Revolution, forcing a re-run of the vote. Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western former prime minister, is elected president as a result.  He takes power and promises to lead Ukraine towards NATO and the EU.

Then in 2008, NATO promised Ukraine that they would one day be allowed to join the union.  In 2010, after Yanukovich, the pro-Russian candidate who ran in 2004, was elected President of Ukraine, he opted to revive ties with Moscow, triggering months of mass rallies in Kyiv.

Then in Feb. 2014, Parliament voted to remove Yanukovich after lots of bloodshed in the protests.  Within days, armed men seize parliament in the Ukrainian region of Crimea and raise the Russian flag; Moscow later once again annexes the territory.  In 2019, Volodymyr Zelenskiy is elected president and in Jan. 2021, appeals to US President Joe Biden for Ukraine to join NATO.  A few months later, Russia began to mass troops near Ukraine’s borders in what it says are “training exercises”.

On Dec. 17 2021, Russia presented security demands including that NATO pull back troops and weapons from eastern Europe and bar Ukraine from ever joining.  Then on Feb. 21, 2022, Putin says Ukraine is an integral part of Russian history and has a puppet regime managed by foreign powers.  Putin orders what he called peacekeeping forces into two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, after recognizing them as independent.

Finally on Feb. 24, 2022, Putin authorized “special military operations” in Ukraine. Russian forces begin missile and artillery attacks, striking major Ukrainian cities including Kiev.

Beginning in the Spring of 2021 Russian troops began amassing along the border with Ukraine. By Nov 2021 satellite images showed the continuous build up of Russian forces with estimates putting the size of the force at roughly 100,000. The build up culminated in the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began Feb. 21, 2022 when Vladimir Putin declared that Russian forces would conduct a peacekeeping mission in two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, after he recognized their independence. The initial Russian strategy appears to be to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as rapidly as possible, and depose president Vladimir Zelensky thus ending the conflict before it truly began.

Ukrainian forces and militia have made this initial attempt impossible though. In response to the invasion the Ukrainian military handed out over 18,000 fully automatic rifles to arm their citizens. While many civilians were attempting to find safety thousands of Ukrainians were rushing to the front lines to fight. The Ukrainian forces delayed the Russian invasion which proved incredibly important as the Russians had not planned supply chains for a prolonged conflict. Many troops only had enough supplies to last them 48 hours. After the initial collapse of the Russian army in the face of resistance they attempted to recuperate and attack again.

The Russian forces still struggled to take land being forced to fight for every single inch of land. Due to the lack of success in their ground warfare the Russians have focused on bombardments. While Russia has still been unable to achieve air superiority they have launched over 650 missiles based off of Pentagon estimates at not only the Ukrainian military, but Ukrainian cities and civilian centers such as Kyiv. They have also begun focusing on siege warfare. Surrounding major cities in an attempt to starve both soldiers and civilians until they are forced to surrender.


With a foreign conflict like this one, it can be hard to gauge its severity. While it may seem far off and only minor in its magnitude, it still has far-reaching consequences on the greater world. At this point, many of these impacts on nations like the US are diplomatic and economic. First, the US has had to take many steps with foreign nations to ensure safety for not only Europe but the people of planet Earth. The most important action taken by our government was to have diplomatic discussions with China, strongly advising them against supporting Russia in the conflict. Our nation has made attempts to strengthen international relations with countries near Ukraine, chiefly Turkey. Additionally, Americans have felt an economic impact. The most obvious of these is with the rapidly rising gas prices, which have increased by 70 cents from the average a month ago. The US’ lack of support for Russia has also increased prices of many other goods, as this causes another disruption of the supply chain. Luckily, though, Americans have yet to see any military impacts on the homefront as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Whether or not this is a precursor to the third World War is yet to be seen, and depends on various factors. Even if Russia continues to bomb Ukrainian cities and citizens, NATO, the UN, and the US all will respond in a way that limits the possibility of a war, because of the deadly impacts it inevitably will have. However, if Russia expands its military operations outside of Ukraine, military action will likely be taken, causing a major global conflict.

As the war continues to ravage Ukraine, more and more citizens are leaving the country and seeking refuge elsewhere. Around the world, there are unified efforts to help war refugees and humanitarian efforts; here are some ways to get involved at the community and international levels. 

To begin, Schreiber’s Students Against Destructive Decisions, S.A.D.D., has been running a fundraiser for The World Central Kitchen. W.C.K. is an organization dedicated to providing meals for war refugees. They are currently stationed at the border between Ukraine and Poland, and S.A.D.D. has raised nearly $6,000 for their organization. For more information, visit

Other organizations helping to raise money for Humanitarian efforts worldwide are Global Giving Ukraine Relief Fund and the Jewish United Fund: Crisis in Ukraine. Global giving is helping to support War refugees with shelter, food, water, and other assistance, while the Jewish United Fund is raising for those elderly people still living in Ukraine, many being Holocaust survivors living in Ukraine. UNICEF continues to raise support for both those in Ukraine and those at its borders. There are countless organizations locally and internationally who are supporting those displaced by war; nonetheless, any donation can help those who are in need of help at this time.