Written by Ryan Miller, 26 November, 2019
There’s been a lot of buzz around Ukraine in the news lately. Unfortunately, the buzz isn’t centered around actually helping Ukraine’s military fight their fight. It’s more centered around impeaching President Donald J. Trump. Somehow, the people making these arguments against each other either in favor of or opposed to impeachment have forgotten one important thing: there are a lot of people who need our help. They are afflicted by Russian aggression in the eastern part of their country, and depend on foreign aid to keep their military in good shape to fight off that aggression. That being said, there are three big reasons why we should care about Ukraine and their war:
1. The war has been ongoing for 5 years. There are more than 13,000 dead, 1.4 million displaced, and 3.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
You read that right. 13,000 dead, 3,000 of them civilians. 1.4 million internally displaced. 30,000 wounded. 3.5 million currently in dire need of humanitarian aid. The Donbas Region in the east of Ukraine has been a pretty rough place to live for people just trying to make normal lives. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it, and it’s ugly. Ukraine itself is a wonderful country, but the situation in Donbas is just terrible for anyone who lives there. Poverty. Food and water shortages. Lack of supplies. Constant danger. Trench warfare alarmingly close to towns and cities. They need help, and they need it quick.
2. Russia’s aggression doesn’t just stop in Ukraine.
In the years building up to the start of the war in 2014, there was a lot of work done by Russian intelligence agencies. Long story short, they successfully collected the intel they needed from their neighbors, implanted citizens, and spread disinformation and propaganda. When the Russian military annexed Crimea in 2014, there were already swaths of people eager to greet them. There were even some who were willing to take up arms and fight their government to create independent republics. These separatists, Russian military, and Russian mercenaries are the ones at war with Ukraine today.
Of course, western countries aren’t ex-soviet states, but the principles they used there remain the same and very effective against westerners, Americans in particular: they gather information, pose as citizens (mostly online), and spread fake information and propaganda to cause the population to fight. Russia has either completely started, contributed to, or bankrolled many controversial movements in America just to stir the pot. Some examples of this that we know of are The Texas and California secession movements, Black Lives Matter, and White Lives Matter. Of course, there were counter-movements and offshoots as well to fuel the fire.
3. The EU, NATO, and the US could gain an important ally by helping Ukraine and letting them join.
Ukraine is situated in a very strategic position. Partially because it is Russia’s neighbor, but this goes beyond just a physical border. The Russian government considers Ukraine to be within its sphere of influence, meaning that they believe that they can exert both economic, diplomatic, and military influence over Ukraine. Most Ukrainians, especially the younger generations, are sick of their aggressive neighbor. They’ve seen the Russian military invade and annex an important chunk of their country. They’ve almost all known someone who was killed or has served in the war that is fueled and fought by the Russians. They want to be with the west and join the rest. Gaining Ukraine as a member of NATO and the EU could mean that Russia’s sphere of influence shrinks. In short, it would undermine their efforts to keep Ukraine as a satellite state and give the west more influence and control over the region.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the quid-pro-quo situation, just know this: the actual aid of Ukraine isn’t what’s being argued for in Washington, despite a real need for it. There are many reasons why you should care about Ukraine, and these are only three short ones but in my opinion the most important. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help: spread awareness, donate, and volunteer.
Here are some resources to help you do that:
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is basically like our Department of Defense. By donating directly to them, you can help their army fight off the bad circumstances that have left many Ukrainians in horrible situations. Here’s a website to help you out:
Building Ukraine Together is an organization dedicated to assisting those in need of proper housing in the country. They take volunteers from all over Ukraine and abroad as well as donations and any social support and awareness that can be gained. Here’s a link to their site:
People in Need Ukraine is a non governmental organization dedicated to providing water, food, and education to those affected by the war and left in terrible situations. Their site is:
The UN Refugee Agency is dedicated to helping those displaced by the war. They run camps and settlements, provide education and training, and try to give people affected so negatively a chance at good lives despite the conflict. Here’s a link to their site:
- Ukraine Refugee Crisis, https://www.unrefugees.org/emergencies/ukraine/, USA FOR UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency
- Lucy Fulford, ‘For Ukrainians displaced by war, five years in a grey container block,’ September 10 2019, The NewHumanitarian
- ALYA SHANDRA AND ROBERT SEELY, ‘THE SURKOV LEAKS’
- OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, ‘BACKGROUND TO “ASSESSING RUSSIAN ACTIVITIES AND INTENTIONS IN RECENT US ELECTIONS”: THE ANALYTIC PROCESS AND CYBER INCIDENT ATTRIBUTION
- VICE NEWS WITH SIMON OSTROVSKY, ‘RUSSIAN ROULETTE IN UKRAINE’
- Casey Mitchel, ‘Why Russia cultivates fringe groups, such as the California secession movement,’ May 11 2017, The Dallas Morning News
- Conor Friedsdorf, ‘Is Russia Behind a Secession Effort in California?’ March 1 2017, The Atlantic
- Sarah Manney, ‘From Calexit to Catalonia, Russia’s Obsession with Global Separatism,’ October 6 2017, Stanford Politics
- Mansur Mirovalev, ‘What’s Behind Russia’s Support for World’s Separatist Movements?’ July 23 2016, NBC News
- Caroline Alexander, ‘Redrawing the World’s Borders: Here are Five More Separatist Movements to Watch,’ October 6 2017, Bloomberg
- ‘Russia and the Separatists Eastern Ukraine,’ February 5 2016
- April Glaser, ‘Russian Trolls Were Obsessed with Black Lives Matter,’ May 11 2018, Slate
- Kevin Poulsen, ‘American are Easy Marks for Russian Trolls, According to New Data,’ October 31 2018, the Daily Beast
- Donie O’Sullivan, ‘American media keeps falling for Russian Trolls,’ June 21 2018, CNN
- Julia Ioffe, ‘The History of Russia’s Involvement in America’s Race Wars,’ October 21 2017, The Atlantic
- James Lamond, ‘The Origins of Russia’s Broad Political Assault on the United States,’ October 3 2018, Center for American Progress
- Sarah A. Topol, ‘What Does Putin Really Want?’ June 25 2019, The New York Times