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War in Ukraine-a Glimpse of Hope in the Darkness

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Every morning, I wake up eager to read the live Ukrainian news. I later browse through the latest posts on Facebook, my heart pounding and my hands trembling. Then check on texts from my parents, friends and relatives. Turn on TV, listen to the news about the war in Ukraine there.

This is now a daily routine for every Ukrainian who lives abroad.

My soul is never calm anymore. I constantly worry about what might happen to the people dear to me.

Ever since February 24, 2022 happened, the lives of all Ukrainians changed forever. Many Ukrainians had read about the war in books, but never expected to experience it. Why would they? Ukrainians are kind and peaceful people, they never attacked anyone. All they wanted was to live in their native land, to dream, to take care of their children.

During the Soviet Union time, a lot of nuclear weapons were stationed on the territory of Ukraine. Our country held one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union! But Ukraine gave them all up as they wanted to be a peaceful, non-nuclear weapon state. If only we knew back then that Russia would attack us one day…

Impacts of war in Ukraine

The reality of the war is brutal. The relentless Russian missiles and drones started falling from the sky, destroying the beautiful Ukrainian cities, breaking our hearts and cutting many innocent lives short. Some Ukrainian towns, happy and vibrant just a year ago, now lay in complete ruins.

Ukraine wasn’t the only country in the world which felt the impact of this war. In fact, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine delivered a major shock to the whole global economy through various channels, including commodity and financial markets and trade linkages. With Ukraine and Russia being key exporters of various commodities, many countries, especially low-income ones, have been greatly affected due to high commodity prices.

Ukrainian refugees

Millions of people fled Ukraine, in hope of finding safety elsewhere. By now, about 8 million Ukrainian refugees are being hosted in Europe. More are expected to flee Ukraine this winter due to the rapidly deteriorating living conditions.

Many European countries have taken in Ukrainian refugees and are supporting them.

This summer I was in Poland and witnessed for myself the help which is provided to the Ukrainians.

Getting into Poland is not easy for Ukrainians, but it is doable. The majority of people take the train, the most reliable means of transportation. In the beginning of the war, the railways stations in Ukraine were flooded with people desperately trying to get away. Getting on the train was extremely hard. Today, it’s still complicated, but a little better. Once Ukrainians get into Poland, they’re safe.

When I walked around Warsaw, all over the city I saw signs in support of Ukraine and various services which are being provided. It’s wonderful that Poland welcomes Ukrainians during this difficult time.

Images of war in Ukraine–Warsaw, Poland. The text says: The war is the greatest horror. Children have to see peace, not killings and destruction. Written by Yana, 10 years old, from Dnipro.

The National Museum of Warsaw had a wonderful exhibition of paintings by Ukrainian children. The children want peace in Ukraine and the whole world.

Paintings of Ukrainian children at the exhibition in Warsaw

I also greatly appreciate the fact that Iga Swiatek, a Polish tennis player and world #1, always wears a yellow and blue ribbon on her tennis hat and participates in different events in support of Ukraine. Every time I watch Iga on TV, I feel very proud that the tennis world has a role model like that.

Iga Swiatek Support of Ukraine

Daily lives of Ukrainians during the war

While a lot of people fled the war, the vast majority of Ukrainians still remain in the country. Many are fighting in the front line, and doing an outstanding job defeating the enemy and liberating our territories.

Others continue to perform their regular jobs, which are also important for the country. Teachers, doctors, storekeepers, firefighters, bus drivers–everyone does their part and works together to help Ukraine get through this difficult time, even when their own life is in danger.

My aunt Lydia still goes to work at the Antonov aircraft plant

Despite the war raging, even now you can buy Ukrainian national shirts–“vyshyvankas”–at the markets in Kyiv. Plenty of them are on display. Vyshyvankas are beautifully embroidered shirts. The pattern differs depending on the region where the shirt was made. Each element bears a lot of symbolism.

Every Ukrainian has vyshyvankas in their possession. This is a source of national pride. Vyshyvankas are also world famous. Did you know that Queen Maxima of the Netherlands wore a Ukrainian vyshyvanka shirt designed by Vita Kin to the Rio Olympic Games?

Vyshyvankas in the Kyiv market

Winter as a weapon of war in Ukraine

Everyday life is extremely hard for an average Ukrainian now. Due to the inability to conquer Ukrainians on the battlefield, the evil Kremlin implemented a cowardly tactic–using winter as a weapon of war. It has resorted to targeting Ukrainian infrastructure with missile strikes in order to break the spirit of Ukrainian people and plunge the country in the stone age in the middle of the freezing winter.

Just like that, half of Ukraine’s power-generating capacity has been disabled.

As the result, millions of Ukrainian people are forced to go through complete hell every day. No water, heating, electricity, internet… People cannot take a simple shower or wash clothes! They have to use candles, as there is no light. Refrigerator doesn’t work without electricity, and food spoils. Keeping food outside in winter is also not an option, as it gets frozen and then people cannot unfreeze it. Shortages of bread and medicines are pronounced.

Blackouts in the Ukrainian homes

When bombing starts, piercing sounds of sirens can go on for hours. Ukrainians have to stay in bomb shelters. No public transportation works while the sirens are on. Commutes get disrupted for prolonged periods of time, people end up waiting for transportation in the miserable weather.

Work conditions are extremely challenging.

For example, my Dad works at the Antonov–the plant which manufactures aircrafts.

Aircraft plant “Antonov”

A while ago, their building was shelled by the Russian forces and the roof was badly damaged. For a while, my Dad had to work in terrible, freezing conditions. But he still kept going to work, and so did his colleagues.

Do Ukrainians ever give up? Of course, not!

Antonov airplane with a sign: Glory to Ukraine

Situation with healthcare during the war in Ukraine

The situation with healthcare in Ukraine is now very difficult for several reasons. First, many hospitals have been damaged, and continue being damaged, by Russian missile strikes during the war. Second, with the recent attacks on the energy grid, hospitals suffer blackouts and interruption of water supply and cannot serve the patients at the same level as in the past.

Some of the non-essential planned surgeries now need to be suspended until the situation with electricity improves. Ukrainian hospitals are equipped with generators but more are needed. Generators are vital, for example, to enable surgeons to finish the operation which started right before the blackout, or to make sure that incubators and intensive care wards continue functioning.

Interruptions in water supply caused by the Russian strikes also create significant issues for hospitals. Some important medical procedures require uninterrupted water supply, while water supply often gets interrupted during blackouts. All hospitals keep water reservoirs to make sure they can draw on them in case of emergency.

How can you help during the war in Ukraine?

Those of us who live overseas are so incredibly lucky. Just think about it. We have all the modern conveniences. It’s warm in our houses and offices, we can take a shower whenever we want, and leisurely browse through some sites on the Internet. We don’t have to fear for our lives everyday. We can sit down in the park and just watch the fluffy clouds crawling around the blue sky because deadly missiles are not falling on our heads.

So, what can an average person in the United States and other countries do to help Ukraine?

First, donate. There are many reputable charities which currently work in Ukraine. Your support, even small, can go a long way. There are people out there in Ukraine who are currently struggling to survive, who lost everything–their homes, their income, their loved ones.

Second, provide support to Ukrainian refugees if they come to your city. Imagine yourself in a similar situation–packing all your belongings in a suitcase and leaving your hometown.

Third, help to spread the word about the war in Ukraine. There is so much disinformation out there, thanks to Putin’s regime. We need to make everyone understand what is actually happening on the ground–how Putin and his supporters are terrorizing civilians every day and trying to break their spirit.

When will the war in Ukraine end?

I firmly believe that Ukraine will win the war. The war will end with Ukraine’s victory.

There are a lot of positive signs already.

The US is getting ready to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine. This system is highly effective in intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles which Russia has been firing at Ukraine. An advanced air defense system will help Ukraine to minimize the damage to its infrastructure. There are significant challenges with operating such a complex system, but the expectation is that Ukrainians will receive all the necessary capacity-building.

Some press outlets have also mentioned that Russia’s stock of missiles is getting depleted. According to the British Ministry of Defense, Russia has been digging deep into their stock and are now using ageing missiles which were manufactured back in the 1980s.

Due to its good capacity and strong will to win, in the recent months Ukraine has been successfully taking back territory which was conquered by Russia during the earlier days of the war. Russia has struggled to make advances in Ukraine.

A significant recent victory of the Ukrainian forces was in the city of Kherson, which was reclaimed by Ukraine in mid-November. To remind, Kherson is the only regional capital which Russians managed to capture since their invasion in February–and we already have it back.

The next steps for the Ukrainian army include liberating cities of Melitopol and Enerhodar (the city which houses the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant). Then, Ukrainian forces will be able to focus on taking back the Eastern territories and the Crimea, the jewel which was lost to Russia almost a decade ago.

With the momentum on the Ukrainian side and a strong will for victory and expelling the invaders, there is good hope that Ukrainian victory will happen in 2023.

What will Ukrainian victory look like?

For Ukraine, victory will mean returning all the territories previously seized by Russia (including Crimea and Donbas), Russia covering the costs for reconstruction of Ukrainian cities and paying the damages to the Ukrainian people, returning all captive Ukrainians, and bringing to justice all the criminals of this war.

Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!

Ukraine House in Washington DC

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