The simple truth of why the conflict in Ukraine should matter to all of us: They’re just people

They may be 6,000 miles away, but that doesn’t make their suffering any less real


Courtesy of Public Domain

The conflict in Ukraine, which has been in effect since February 24, has taken a massive toll on the people and society.

Since February 24, 2022, the people of Ukraine have been at war for their freedom. There have been almost 3,000 civilian casualties, 5 million refugees have left the country, and more than 12 million people have been displaced. All of those numbers are climbing as we speak. And yet, for one reason or another, some people believe that we could care less. 

Some argue that Ukraine is too far away and therefore is not our problem to deal with. Others argue that Russia is just invading as a ‘special military operation,’ as the Russian government reports. Some even go so far as to say that Russia has a previous claim and therefore a right to the land. These reasons are many, and while most just seem like excuses to turn a blind eye, the scariest rationalizations are those that spawn from people who don’t even seem to know the full truth of the horrors of the conflict. 

The truth is, the conflict does and should matter to every single one of us. Whether or not we get directly involved is a different conversion. But the bottom line is that everyone needs to pay attention to and care for this issue. The main reason for this, believe it or not, is much more simple than the arguments refuting it. 

Sophomore Vlad Deineko, who identifies as Ukrainian, provides this reason:

“In Ukraine, the people that are fighting the Russian forces, a lot of them are just normal people. Honestly, the Russians are killing just innocent people. They’re killing free innocent people” 

It’s blunt and it’s honest. And it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter how far away they are. It is still happening. They may be strangers to us, but they’re family and friends to someone. Deineko himself shared that he has grandparents in Ukraine right now. 

Similarly, sophomore Jonathan Pham, who identifies as Vietnamese, says that he can sympathize with the people of Ukraine because of his family’s similar experience during the war in Vietnam.

“It’s very important to protect people’s certain freedoms that we’re born with … I can relate to people over in Ukraine. I think it’s important to give help as much as we can and try to protect what’s important to us.”

This obligation is something that every one of us shares, no matter your opinion on the issue of the conflict. We all must recognize how easily a situation similar to that of the one in Ukraine could happen to any of us. And even if we can’t physically do anything to help the actual war be resolved, one thing we can do something about is the refugee crisis. 

“The refugees are just running from the war, it makes sense, so they’re often just people that need help and it’s within any person’s right to help them,” said Deineko. “Anything from food, shelter, to just safety and resources, that would help, really.”

Refugees are often a significant side-effect of wars like this, and it is critical that we give this crisis the recognition it deserves. While some people may brush off the notion, saying that it’s “not their problem,” an innocent human life is always worth our attention. It’s a moral obligation for us as people.  

While the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is bad enough, the conflict could also be the precursor to something much bigger, that could directly affect all of us, even here in the USA, several thousand miles away.

“I do feel that you can draw a lot of lines compared to right now compared to World War II. A big factor of WWII starting was because Britain and the US gave into appeasement for Hitler, and that gave rise to his greed, starting WWII when he invaded Poland. So I do feel that other countries giving into appeasement for [Russian President Vladimir Putin] will build his confidence a little bit, which can be pretty dangerous at times,” warns Pham. 

While some may think that the prospect of another World War is a little far-fetched, it is a possibility that we should definitely be aware of.

As Jeff McCausland, a retired Army Colonel, writes for NBC News, “Simply put, the Russian invasion will have a real impact on American national security. And Washington’s support for Ukrainian democracy is our best guarantee against war — and for the continuation of peace. This is an attack on democracy, the rule of law and the values the United States has stood for throughout its history.

Meredith Deliso writes similarly in her story for ABC News, “The potential impact of the Ukraine conflict on U.S. interests is considered ‘significant,’ by the Council on Foreign Relations, which said in part that the conflict ‘risks further deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations and greater escalation if Russia expands its presence in Ukraine or into NATO countries.’”

To think that Russia will stop at Ukraine is naïve. Putin himself has already publicly said that he considers the financial sanctions put on Russia by the US and other countries as an act of war (as reported by Frances Kerry for Reuters). It is clear to see that the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine will have monumental effects on the entire world, one way or another. Already the destruction of the conflict has begun leaking closer and closer to the borders of different countries, as seen this March. On March 13 The Washington Post reported that Russia hit a Ukrainian military facility with missiles just 15 miles from the Polish border.

So the question remains: How can we, as normal citizens, help the Ukrainians? Deineko provides an answer: “I think to help Ukraine, aside from helping refugees, you could really spread awareness of the conflict, and especially if awareness of this conflict were to go into Russia, the people who still support Putin, if we were to be able to educate them on the horrors of the conflict right now, that would really help.”

You, Woodbridge students, can play an important role in helping spread the word about the conflict.

Please, try and help educate the people you know on the reality of the situation as best you can, so we can move towards a solution. It’s the least we can do.