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Ukraine invasion prompts newfound unity

SUN. | 04-03-22 | OPINION

     As just about everyone (aside from those who live a self-sufficient lifestyle in central Wyoming) knows by now, the situation in Eastern Europe has rapidly deteriorated over the last month. Starting Feb. 24, Russia shocked the world by launching a massive invasion of the ex-Soviet country of Ukraine, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Europe since World War II. At the time of this article’s writing, thousands of soldiers and civilians alike have been killed and over four million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries and beyond, creating the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the 1940s.

     Though I consider myself to be a fairly optimistic person, the complicated and often trying nature of the past few years have made it difficult for me to maintain this starry outlook at times. Indeed, I was exasperated to learn that Russia had invaded Ukraine, as it seemed like the world was simply digging itself further into a pit of tragedy that we’ve made little progress in

International Unity.png

Graphic by William Becker

climbing out of. However, out of such a grim situation, something truly remarkable happened.

     Despite the fears that I (and many others) held, the world did not fall into chaos as soon as Russia began making its demands. In defiance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expectations that Ukraine would fall within days, they have held their own. Even more remarkably, the Western world has almost universally rallied behind the besieged country. In the face of such a horrible event, this was news that I (and many, many others across the world) badly needed to hear.

     In addition to heavily sanctioning Russia, many Western countries have provided an overwhelming amount of humanitarian aid for Ukraine, providing everything from helmets to field hospitals. Aside from providing material aid, many countries in Europe have also opened their borders to Ukrainian refugees by removing COVID-19 restrictions and, in some cases, removing documentation requirements altogether. The European Union additionally agreed on Feb. 27 to host Ukrainian refugees for up to three years without requiring applications for asylum.

     Though it goes without saying that my heart has been heavy for those suffering in, perishing in, and fleeing from such a pointless war, it has also been greatly warmed by the unprecedented amount of support and assistance being poured out for Ukraine and its people. Amid the grim headlines dominating the news feeds of the past few weeks, I’ve also seen articles on Polish mothers leaving strollers at the Ukrainian border for mothers fleeing with young children, a man driving across Europe from his home in the Netherlands to offer refugees a place to stay, and people from across the world renting Airbnbs in Ukraine to provide financial support for those who remain in the country. As someone whose starry outlook has struggled lately, my sky has truly been lit up once more by the astonishing amount of love and care being heaped upon the people of Ukraine by the rest of the world.

     In a time of so many difficulties, from the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the last two years to the increasingly polarized political situation in the U.S., this global unity in the face of such a major threat has been a strong reminder that an abundance of hope and goodwill still exists in the world. I feel that especially nowadays, optimism is badly needed and unfortunately in short supply for many. What better way to find it than seeing humanity show its very best at potentially one of its darkest hours?

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