Shortly after the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited volunteers from around the world to come and help defend Ukraine. Some 3,000 US citizens have reportedly volunteered. And in early March, Ukrainian authorities announced they are setting up an international brigade. Zelensky has said that 16,000 foreign volunteers are coming to fight for the Ukrainian cause.
Heading into battle in Ukraine, Russian forces mark their equipment with a single letter signifying their objective. There have been different interpretations of the letter “Z” being used on Russian vehicles – one is that it represents the first letter of “Za pobedy”, which means “For victory” in Russian. But for others, who saw Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky describe himself as Russia’s “target number one”, the giant “Z” would seem to confirm that toppling Zelensky is first and foremost on Vladimir Putin’s otherwise unreadable mind.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February has already caused two million refugees to flee the country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees predicts that another four million will be displaced if the conflict continues.
Ukraine and Russia are two countries that border each other in Eastern Europe. On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia sent its army into Ukraine and began trying to take over the country by force.
“Polina came to our bedroom awakened by the sound of explosions. I didn’t know and still don’t know what to tell her. Her eyes today are full of fear and terror; eyes of all of us.”
Alina, a family friend who is a marketer and mother of two children from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv – which is under seige by Russian forces – shared this reflection on her Instagram story. Her daughter Polina is 7 years old.
The West has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by imposing harsh economic sanctions.
Most consequentially, key Russian banks have been cut out of the SWIFT payments messaging system, making financial transactions much more difficult. The United States, European Union and others also moved to freeze Russian Central Bank reserves. And U.S. President Joe Biden is placing a total ban on Russian oil imports.
In the pre-war discussions between the US and Russia, Joe Biden warned Russia about the consequences of aggression, but explicitly excluded the possibility of the use of armed force by the United States. Now as Ukrainian civilians come under severe attack and refugees are pouring into other central European countries, the clamour for a military response from Nato is getting louder.
According to the UN human rights office, 136 civilians have died in the war on Ukraine so far. But it acknowledges that the figure is probably much higher.