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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

OPINION – The Impact of War in Ukraine

A Ukrainian-American student shares the effect of Russia’s invasion
The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. As of Nov. 27, 2022, the Office of the United National High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded 6,655 civilian casualties in the country since the invasion by Russia began, with no signs of combat stopping. Via Wikipedia.

Conflicts between Russia and Ukraine have been occurring since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, but the war’s impact stepped up ever since February 24, 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. Since February 24th, I, as a Ukraine-American, have been living in stress and fear for Ukraine and its people. Since February 24th, I, as a Ukrainian-American, have been feeling pain for the refugees being forced to flee their country. Since February 24th, I, as a Ukrainian-American, have been in despair seeing the country of my father and my ancestors being destroyed. 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has confirmed there have been over 6.3 thousand deaths of innocent civilians in Ukraine during the war as of October 2022. Additionally, as of Sept. 30, 2022, the Center for Strategic & International Studied (CSIS) reported 7,536,433 Ukrainian refugees were registered outside of Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians are being affected by this war, millions of people are being forced from their homes, and many are even being stripped of their lives. Although this war has greatly affected Ukrainians living in Ukraine, its effects have been just as scarring for Ukrainians living in the United States, like my father and my Ukrainian family.

“It breaks my heart beyond words.” Dr. Ruslan Ivanov, a Miami emergency room physician — and my father — said. “Ukraine is my motherland. I lived there for my whole life until the collapse of the USSR, there is no country I identify more with or a group of people I identify more with than Ukrainians. Seeing my home that I have millions of memories residing in, the home of my people, being destroyed is awful.”

“Physically, the only persona really affected was my uncle because he died when his house my bombed. My friends in Ukraine didn’t think they would survive and sent goodbye messages when the Russians attacked.” Don Soffer Aventura High School senior Hlib Panfilov said. “Well , the only two things is obviously to put sanctions on Russia. Russia lives off oil so it’s obvious there are gonna be raised by gas prices, there’s an obvious need to cut off Russia’s gas supply. Military aid helps us take back cities, without U.S. military help, we couldn’t do that. We need to get this straight, but Putin is a dictator with no care for Russian people. Russia people don’t even care about Russian people, they go and die for the war. Military sanctions and aid are crucial to help the war. From recent news, military aid is the key factor, it can completely change the pace of the war. Military aid is important, it’s still good to try and find a peaceful solution, but it’s a war and there’s no farther way to get help unless NATO interferes, but Ukraine isn’t asking for membership. Military aid is good, there’s little to none negotiating to be done with China, Iran, and other outcast countries. Obviously Ukrainian advancements in Kherson are positive but it comes at a really steep cost. It’s shelled in my city and the Kherson region especially. It’s cause that ukrainians were to pay for their freedom. Its a bigger informational war than the real war. There haven been huge physical successes of taking in land and protecting more land, allowing Kharkiv and my city not get bombed. People’s lives are getting saved as Ukrainian troops are advancing, there’s less of an opportunity to hit houses, buildings, or infrastructure. It’s good we are advancing, it shows the world we are not bullied children who will not go down on the side of the Russians, it shows we will put down a fight. Early predictions said Ukraine would last three days but it’s almost been a year. I expected it because in Ukraine, most people had knowledge of the Russian army, it wasn’t the blowout that Western media predicted. Ukraine has been able to defend and do offense.”

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Perspective from Kyiv

While the conflict hits close to home for Miami’s Ukrainian-American community, the experience is tremendously heightened for those in Ukraine itself. People like Iryna Sorokina, an event manager in Kyiv.

“As for me and my family — we are staying in the capital of Ukraine. And we didn’t leave when the Russians invaded. And the first few months changed our lives a lot. We stopped sleeping properly. There was a big break in our work. Non-stop bombing has turned our life into a nightmare. Now we don’t have power and there is no mobile connection and no internet. Today a Russian missile hit residential buildings in Kyiv. Explosions continue, already 4 arrivals. We are not okay. We are not safe at all.”

Sorokina reflected a common sentiment among Ukrainians: Appreciation for military defense support for the United States of America and its allies.

“I want to express my deep gratitude to the United States for the assistance it provides to Ukraine. Keep helping. Don’t stop giving modern weapons. About the East, Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye, Kharkov … it is all Ukrainian land. Our army tried to get back those territories. But fighting is so bloody. I pray every day for our soldiers. As you know, we didn’t have sophisticated and powerful weapons when Russians first came to Ukraine in February. But we have brave people, who understand if we lose in this war, we will lose independence for many years. And not only me, but all of Europe will be in danger, Russia can take away all European values ​​​​from them too. But the enemy must be defeated, punished! All that Russia brings with it is blood, pain, devastation, and death. Those who were in the de-occupied territories saw everything themselves! I have a lot of friends who lived in Irpen, Bucha, Makarov. I saw with my own eyes the destroyed houses, the buried people right in the yards. Now, when I drive along the Zhytromir highway, I see shot down fences, blown up gas stations and shops, and frightened dogs. And I cry all the time, because my heart aches for my country, for all the values ​​that we have acquired and are now defending. Let the whole world know: Russia is a terrorist state. And they have no forgiveness. Everything they say is a blatant lie. All the “justifications” for their actions are terrible nonsense and far-fetched stupid tricks. We, Ukrainians, are a calm, hardworking and peaceful nation. We wanted to live in a rich, peaceful, successful country. We didn’t touch anybody. But the greedy and impudent ‘beasts’ wanted our well-being and our territories.”

Emergency responders dismantle the debris of a college dormitory hit by a Russian missile in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Aug. 18, 2022. Photo via State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

Although Ukraine has been undergoing an immense number of grand-scale attacks, I think the Biden-Harris Administration’s initiatives have been very beneficial towards Ukraine’s fight for sovereignty and the reclamation of annexed Ukrainian territory. On Aug. 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Defense announced its pledge of $2.98 billion to Ukrainian armed forces for their preparation and equipment in their fight against the Russian invasion, reaffirming its long-term commitment to Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine has reclaimed multiple provinces in the Kharkiv region and has made advancements pushing back territories in the Kherson region. Nevertheless, searching for a peaceful agreement without bloodshed involved is imperative.

Ukraine’s people have received support from around the world in their fight for regaining what is theirs. With this global aid and internal persistence among Ukrainians, we can prevail. Ukrainian people are strong, Ukrainians are capable, and Ukraine can win.

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