Protest against war in Ukraine

Not even three months into the year, 2022 has managed to be just as eventful as the years before it. If you carry a cellphone or watch cable news, you know about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

This conflict did not start in Feb. 2022 but goes back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. More recently, in Feb. 2014, Vladimir Putin planned for Ukraine's former leader, Victor Yanukovych, to sign the European Union. This attempt failed and led to Russia attacking Ukraine's southern region, Crimea, starting what has been an eight-year-long conflict. Putin has long called for attacks on Ukraine and views the nation as a security threat in no uncertain terms. But why does he see them as a threat?

On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. This occurred after the Ukrainian government showed interest in joining NATO, a government alliance protecting member states with military action. With Ukraine joining NATO, other countries may follow suit, challenging Russia's dominance in Eastern Europe. In addition, many speculate that Putin wishes to restore the Soviet Union, who's dissolution has been cited by Putin to be a great tragedy.

On state television, Putin immediately declared a "special military operation" in Ukraine to demilitarize and "denazify" the country. As a result of this invasion, PBS reports that nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced, and 3.2 million people have fled the country. According to Statista, Ukraine has faced 875 civilian casualties and 1,407 injuries as of March 17.

The State Department has advised U.S. citizens not to travel to Ukraine, which may be stressful for international students whose families live there. At this rate, many students abroad may not be able to go home, even after a potential ceasefire.

For the average student, this invasion may not feel personal. But that isn't the case for everyone. For first-year Ukrainian student Abby Falkner, this invasion is her new reality. "In a deep sense, this war has completely messed with both me and my family's life. I'm worried about not visiting Ukraine. It's destroyed land now. I don't think I'll ever be able to," Falkner said. "It's not an issue that I can forget. Although many people see this as major news now, it won't be in two weeks. For me, though, it's never-ending."

During the summer of 2021, awareness posts and GoFundMe links for Palestine were widely shared, but one random day, the attention disappeared. The voices that were once so loud suddenly fell eerily silent. It was as if the conflict in Palestine had ended, even though it has progressively gotten worse.

We must keep the energy we have at this moment for months and even years to come. We have the power to be vocal at all times; it is essential to be persistently aware.

This war impacts students like Falkner, but it also negatively impacts those not of Ukrainian descent.

Recently, countries around the globe have been seeing a devastating hit to their economy. According to BBC News, Europe is enduring an energy crisis, with prices in Germany as high as $9.12 as of March 14.

The Seattle Times reported that inflation in the U.S. has risen to 7.9%, which Biden has directly blamed on Putin and the Kremlin—the Russian government. This is because many sought-after imports such as oil and agricultural products have been disconnected from Russia.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. gas average has hit a new high: $4.17 per gallon. These prices have sent many into a panic. I'm sure many of you can relate, but I live on a very tight budget as a college student. I also live hours away from home, meaning that it will be more expensive to visit my family and travel elsewhere.

Along with rising gas prices, the price of food and other consumer goods has skyrocketed. Meat, produce, dairy and almost any other food available for consumption will be in shorter supply this year.

According to Reuters, "Russia's trade and industry ministry has recommended the country's fertilizer producers temporarily halt exports." Russia is a huge fertilizer producer, causing our farmers to depend on them to grow their crops. With the U.S. disinvesting in Russia, it is more difficult and more expensive for farmers to bring food to market.

I share a significant concern for those fighting the war in Ukraine and those protesting in Russia, as well as those whose loved ones have suffered all around the world. I cannot imagine having to fight for a conflict that isn't mine. Although Biden explicitly stated he wants nothing to do with this, this invasion is just as much of our concern as anyone else's.

Stay informed about the war and encourage others to do the same. Contact your local legislators with concerns to send aid to families in Ukraine and those impacted by this war in your area.

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