LIFE ON THE GROUND IN UKRAINE: WHAT DO WE KNOW?

LIFE ON THE GROUND IN UKRAINE: WHAT DO WE KNOW?

by Christopher Kelly
7 min

Following the first full day of fighting in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, locals woke to the news of a mass mobilization of Russian troops and tanks entering the capital city of Kyiv. Footage of heavy artillery and tanks in battle formations have emerged on social media that show Russian forces entering the suburban area of Obolon, just north of Kyiv’s once burgeoning downtown district. As world leaders and representatives flock to an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, an endless stream of questions remains as to the harshness of unilateral sanctions imposed by major powers and the eventual end goal of Putin’s campaign for control of Ukraine. 

WHAT’S HAPPENED SO FAR?
Though the political, economic and militaristic ramifications of yesterday’s invasion have dominated the discourse, it is only the disastrous humanitarian effects of this crisis that have begun to yield any answers. So far reports indicate that 130 Ukrainian troops and civilians were killed on the first day of fighting as regular people from every sector of Ukrainian society swarm to enlist in the nationwide effort to halt Russian advances. Elsewhere in the country, stories of valour and heroism are igniting a plumb of patriotic resistance after an inspiring story emerged of 13 Ukrainian soldiers facing off against a Russian Warship on Snake Island. 

At the direct order of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, civilians are collecting weaponry and preparing ‘Molotov Cocktails’, after a tweet from the Ministry of Defence calling for immediate civilian action demonstrated how to prepare the makeshift methods of slowing tanks. Similarly, appeals to anyone with hacking and coding experience have been urged to join “Ukraine’s hacking underground” to ward off a complex and dogmatic digital invasion of key Ukrainian economic levers, corporations and public resources. For those unable to fight or flee, ramshackle shelters in underground stations have been constructed to offer minimal refuge from the wailing air sirens and the ever-encroaching aerial bombardment above. 

However, many are already fleeing as fears of a refugee crisis begin to materialize. Over 100,000 Ukrainians have already been displaced with early estimates indicating that number could rapidly climb to between 1 and 5 Million. Last night, 4000 Ukrainians arrived in Moldova whilst tens of thousands more rushed for refuge in neighbouring Poland, Romania & Slovakia.

MEANWHILE IN RUSSIA
Conversely, in Moscow, a rare rallying cry of public descent and disbelief erupts as thousands of Russian citizens take to the streets to protest against ‘Putin’s War’ throughout 51 cities across the country, with some 1400 protesters being arrested by Russian forces. Despite a deafening disinformation campaign across Russian and allied media outlets all proclaiming Putin’s manufactured reasoning of ‘peace-keeping’, whispers of dissension amongst his closest confidants and across vast sectors of the population are beginning to surface.

Perhaps no greater factor in possible dissent within the Kremlin is Putin’s failure in reaching his objectives for the first full day of conflict. Despite significant successful battles surrounding key sights, such as the abandoned nuclear plant of Chernobyl and the crucial Hostomel airfield near Kyiv, reports of over 1000 Russian fatalities signal a severe miscalculation of Ukrainian capabilities by the Kremlin.   

WESTERN RESPONSE
With a surprising lack of military assistance being offered, as western leaders refuse to commit soldiers or direct military assistance in fear of spill over into a NATO member state, anxiety continues to grow as the severity of economic sanctions thus far seem to be feeble to Putin. So far, the US, UK and its allies have frozen all foreign assets of four of Russia’s largest banks, sanctioned thousands of high-profile individuals with links to the Kremlin, cut off all high tech imports of machinery and raw materials, as well as banned flights from Russian airline Aeroflot from entering the UK. Other major sanctions include German chancellor Olaf Scholz suspending the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a major hit to the energy export-dependent nature of the Russian economy. 

HOW TO HELP?
Unquestionably, the current limitations and sanctions placed on Russia are nowhere near the realm of required punishment needed to cause an air of doubt to descend on Moscow. Whilst we wait to see if western and global democracies will step up to the plate and prevent the escalation of the war, we as individuals must do everything we can to aid the accumulation of resources, rehouse the displaced, disrupt the disinformation stream and uphold the doctrine of democracy. Use the resources linked below to support the people of Ukraine in whatever way you can.  

DONATE

Nova Ukraine: A Ukraine-based non-profit that distributes everything from Baby food to hygiene products. Donate here

United Help Ukraine: specifically tasked with aiding internally displaced Ukrainians and providing donations, food and medical supplies. Donate here

UNICEF Ukraine: repairing schools damaged by the bombing and providing emergency response to injured children. Donate here.

SUPPORT UKRAINIAN JOURNALISTS

The Kyiv Independent: “created by journalists who were fired from the Kyiv Post for defending editorial independence. Donate here.

Ukraine World: is an independent English-language multimedia project that emerged from a volunteer initiative helping international journalists. Donate here. 

Join A Peace Protest 

If like so many you want to speak out and stand up for Ukraine but aren’t able to donate then turn out to one of the thousands of international protests against the Russian invasion. Find your nearest protest here.


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