War in Ukraine impacts students


Veronika Maynard

Local students show support for Ukraine at the protest on March 5th in Lake Eola, FL.


It’s been 13 days since Russia first invaded Ukraine. Almost two weeks. After this story is published, even more time will have passed. And in those two weeks, over one thousand civilians have been killed, and there have been over two million refugees. 

Countries across Europe struggle to quickly provide accommodation for the refugees, some countries doing much more than the others, like Poland, who has accepted almost one million refugees. 

But there is still more to come, with an estimated five million refugees to come out of the crisis, if not more. 

In Russia, the war in Ukraine has stirred much division. The “president” of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has been fabricating news and hiding numbers of everything regarding the invasion of Ukraine. He has not been disclosing the number of deaths, and in some cases, hasn’t even told the Russian soldiers that they were going to war, instead calling it military training – with some soldiers even being unaware they were being sent to Ukraine to kill civilians. But as the conflict drew out, instead of military training, Putin also likes to call it a special military operation, instead of what it is. A war. 

“It’s not military training at all. An air strike coming down on a city with no warning whatsoever, is not military training,” junior Roman Zhdanov said. “Killing people is not military training.”

With Putin blocking the word ‘war’ from the media, it is to no surprise that he has been practicing extreme censorship, and sadly, most of the population in Russia believes in what he says. In surveys conducted there, 60% of Russians approved of the war in Ukraine. Many Russians believe the words spewing out of Putin’s mouth, his allegations against Ukraine being a fascist country discriminating against Russians. 

In fact, Putin has gone as far as to begin to say that the war is the United State’s fault, instilling hatred in the Russian populace. And this spreading of hate against the U.S. and other countries is not a new development. Putin has been spreading these messages on the news for decades. 

It’s to the point that I know multiple grandparents in Crimea – who after being exposed to Russian media for a few years after Crimea was annexed – stopped coming to America to visit their family, all because of the hateful indoctrination on the media outlets. Russian news had made them hate America to the point that they refused to come to the U.S. even if it was to visit their own family. 

“Since they’ve been feeding a lot of people in Russia false news, the war is not going as great as I hoped it would,” Arianna Pollack said. 

On the plus side, while the war approval rating in Russia right now is 60%, it is a drop from the 71% it was earlier, meaning that some people have had access to better news sources. 

It helps that the new generation of Russians who’ve had access to social media since a young age have been able to somewhat escape this indoctrination through not being completely isolated from the world. But many of the older generations, especially those who grew up when communism was still prevalent, still believe everything Putin says without a question. And it will be this generation that continues the war.

And while the newer generation has tried to reverse some of the extreme nationalism, it is to no avail. Every time a news outlet tries to release anything that goes against what Putin says he takes it down and he imprisons the news producers and reporters, calling them foreign spies or foreign agents. Whenever people talk about the conflict in Ukraine, they have to censor the name “Putin” and the word “war”, because if they don’t, the government has the ability to take down their video. 

Despite all of the censorship, tens of thousands of people in Russia have come out to protest the invasion of Ukraine, and thousands of those people have been unjustly arrested. Putin is doing everything he can to quiet the unrest about the war. The war that is killing thousands. 

The people of the port city Mariupol have been trapped there since the first day of the Russian invasion. 400,000 people are stuck with nowhere to go. They are running out of supplies. People have begun to die of dehydration and starvation. There seems to be no escape. Leaving without being attacked is incredibly difficult. And each time that humanitarian corridors have been created to let refugees escape, Putin bombed and shelled those corridors even after agreeing not to. Then, he promised he would open a new corridor, but it would only allow the refugees to escape to Russia. Understandably, Ukraine declined his offer. 

Kiev has also been under fire since day one of the invasion. Kiev is still standing, but not for much longer without more support. Prolonged war in Ukraine will only lead to more deaths. Many people are beginning to have issues with imported medicine. Many psychiatric hospitals, and hospitals in general, import their medicine. They aren’t able to do that anymore due to the war. Importation of supplies will become even less feasible if Putin takes the ports, which seems highly feasible in the near future due to his domination of Crimea, and owning their military bases. 

At the end of the day, war has no winners. There is only loss. Any loss that can be prevented, should have all measures taken to make sure it does. Anything to make sure that people have a home to go to, and homes exist for people to return to.

“My cousin is a firefighter. He’s one of the first responders when it comes to fires. And now that there are constant explosions, especially in the capital right now, me and my mom are both stressed out,” Zhdanov said. “He has three children, and we do not want to get a letter or a phone call saying that he’s not with us anymore. It’s terrifying.”