War Crimes in Ukraine


Isabella Gonzalez

Student holds a sign in support of Ukraine during the conflict.

Many world leaders strive for power in hopes of leaving their mark on the world. Putin, the president of Russia will stop at nothing to get his way, even if that means putting his own citizens in danger.

In 1991, the forces of Russia’s president Boris Yeltsin and the United States overthrew Mikhail Gorbachev, the communist leader of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s army was finished off quickly, and Russia became a self-proclaimed democratic country. As a result, there have been many people who wanted to make Russia into the powerful Russian empire again, including Vladimir Putin.
According to Putin, “the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest disasters of modern history.”
Putin’s ruthless actions in 2022 show how badly he wants Russians to have pride in their country’s prestige. For example, after being turned away from Kyiv, Ukraine in March, Russia turned its focus to the Donbas region. The Donbas region has a large percentage of people who identify as ethnically Russian, but there was an increase of separatists in 2014. Due to the region having a cmoplex ethnic makeup, this might have contributed to Putin’s forces taking over.
“[Putin’s] ultimate aim is the readmission of old Soviet Republics into Russia’s orbit and to redefine Europe’s politics. That’s the challenge to the United States and the West,” history teacher Spencer Schwerdtfeger said.
One of the reasons for the invasion was that Putin wants to completely destroy the Ukrainian government to make sure they do not join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Another reason is that Putin wants to ultimately put the Russian stamp on Ukrainians’ identities.
According to Stanford News, “Putin wants Ukraine to be integrated into a larger Russian polity, not be an independent sovereign state with a functioning parliamentary system it has today.”
Putin’s ultimate goal is to make Russia and Ukraine one, but Ukraine has never seen themselves as a country under Russia and they want to be independent.
In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Putin’s country also backed separatist fighters that fought and killed Ukrainians in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Putin’s goal of occupying Ukraine may be tougher than he believes, due to the growing support for Ukraine by western countries.
“As of today, the Baltic states, Romania and many other ex-Soviet states are part of NATO. Even most ex-satellite states that were under Soviet influence like Poland and Albania are closer to the West than ever before. According to NATO, Article 5 could be invoked if a NATO member is attacked, which claims that an attack on one is an attack on all,” junior Rami Al-Harastani said.
Other countries have an obligation to help resolve conflict because Ukraine would like to be part of NATO. However, Putin does not want Russia to be part of NATO or the European Union because he views it as a threat to Russia. Both Canada’s President Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden, have said that Russia is committing a mass genocide in Ukraine on top of the invasion. Between Feb. 27 and March 14, Russian soldiers have raped many Ukrainian women, executed dozens and stole prized possessions from civilians such as houses and jewelry. On March 4, 2022, Russian soldiers lined up six Ukrainian men and executed them. Russia has also attacked maternity hospitals and theaters, leaving no stone unturned in their violent crimes.
While Putin’s goal and desires will only unfold with time, it is clear that we must not sit idly by. Woodbridge High staff and students should actively try to make a change by spreading the word about the torture women, men and children are facing. Thousands of civilians have been killed and even more have been injured at the hands of Russian forces. Researchers say that there is a sense of underreporting by the Russians. Overall, if we advocate for change, donate our money and simply read the news about this crisis, then we can move in the right direction regarding humanity.
Putin’s war crimes are not justified and if he does not place his focus on ensuring people’s safety and human rights above all, citizens of the world must do so. Even if Putin achieves his goal of creating a new Russian empire by incorporating Ukraine, the process is not justified if citizens are killed and war crimes are committed.


Ukraine Humanitarian Fund: https://crisisrelief.un.org/ukraine

Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

Help the Children of Ukraine: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/where-we-work/ukraine

United for Ukraine: https://www.unitedway.org/our-impact/work/no-nav/unitedforukraine

Ukraine Response Fund: https://charity.org/emergency/Ukraine-Response-Fund