“This will be a reminder to Russia, Ukraine, and the world for many years to come”: The bloodiest year in the Russo-Ukrainian war

On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, escalating the Russo-Ukrainian War which began in 2014 with the invasion and annexation of Crimea. 

In one year of the conflict, western nations estimated that Russia and Ukraine have suffered over 150,000 military casualties each, on top of Ukraine’s 30,000 civilian casualties. Ukraine claims to have sustained over 13,000 military casualties along with at least 40,000 civilian casualties compared to over 130,000 Russian military casualties. Russia claims to have suffered 6,000 casualties while inflicting over 100,000 Ukrainian casualties from Feb. 2022 to Sep. 2022. As verified by photographic evidence, Russia has lost at least 9,255 vehicles, and Ukraine has lost at least 2,975 vehicles, though the figures for both countries are likely much higher.

“I believe the war is pointless and that all the parties involved are at fault. It doesn’t matter who started the war or who hit who, both Russia and Ukraine made the decisions to force conscription and have innocent citizens put up their lives, even if they did not support [the] war or want to give up their lives in the name of their country,” stated a student who would like to remain anonymous.

From Feb. 2022 to July 2022, there were over 10,000 documented civilian casualties as a result of Russia’s use of weapons, like cluster munitions, in the bombardment of civilian populations, though the real figure is likely much higher. Both Ukraine and Russia have been documented in their mistreatment of POWs, including execution and torture.

Since the war began, Ukraine has prohibited male Ukrainian citizens of military age from leaving the country and has called up conscripts and reservists. Russia has been mobilizing reservists and conscripts too.

At least 500,000 Russians and eight million Ukrainians have fled their respective country in the year since the invasion.

“I believe that both governments are in the wrong. Both are forcing conscription. If the people don’t want to fight for their country they should not have to. The people should not be forced to value their country over themselves,” said the anonymous student.

Since Feb. 2022, Ukraine has been under martial law. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that they want peace, but will not surrender. Ukraine has held conferences and meetings to garner support for the war effort around the world and has been transparent about Russia’s actions in Ukraine. 

Russia has been framing the war as them against the west and NATO and has suppressed anti-war sentiment in civilians and media outlets. Russian schools began teaching a new version of Ukraine’s history, like how the Ukrainian government has been an American puppet since 2014, and that the people in the Donetsk and Luhansk region have been subject to genocide for over eight years since they rose up against the Ukrainian government. They have also threatened western nations with nuclear escalation.

“The leadership in Ukraine is just doing what they have to do, to protect the country at all costs. On the other hand, corrupt Russian leaders and politicians are fueling this war with Ukraine with the spread of propaganda. These people have been so brainwashed since the Soviet-era that they simply do not see what is in front of them, they have learned to just be quiet and let the big guys do their work,” said sophomore Maxim Boychuk, who has family in Ukraine.

“Russia has shown evidence that they don’t care for the well-being of their citizens and it’s saddening. Russia sends many people to die with no regard for what happens next and continues to display dictator-like action… Ukraine’s leadership has been doing what they can. Zelensky has been very supportive of the Ukrainian citizens, providing immediate care, shelter, and more…Communities have been built to raise money for arms, take care and educate children and collect food to give out at mass shelters,” said freshman Olga Volynets, whose relatives are directly affected by the conflict.

The U.S. has given Ukraine around $24.5 billion in military aid, $16 billion in financial aid, and around $10.6 billion in humanitarian aid, for a total of $51 billion. EU institutions and countries have given Ukraine a total of around $56 billion in aid.

Russia has also been heavily sanctioned since the war. By July 2022, nearly one-third of energy and utility companies and one-fifth of technology and industrial corporations have left Russia, but a majority have suspended or scaled back operations or continue to operate as usual. By the end of 2022, Russia’s economy shrank by around 2.5 percent compared to Ukraine’s economy shrinking by over 30 percent.

“I believe that the rest of the world should not be involved in supporting Ukraine or Russia if they are not willing to fight themselves. By supporting either country they are picking a side, meaning if one country starts winning they should expect themselves to be the next target. Supporting the countries throughout the war only causes more death and is a waste of tax dollars that could be used to solve domestic issues,” said the anonymous student.

“There is always more that could be done. I feel like after one month of the war, the citizens of the world sort of brushed it off and continued to move along. I believe that the world should continue to provide support and that information about the events taking place should be more publicized. The more people know about it, the more support there is,” said Volynets.

 The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared that the aim of the war in Ukraine is the “liberation of the Donbas, the defense of its people, and the creation of conditions which would guarantee the security of Russia itself.” Ukraine’s goal is to reclaim all of its territories lost to Russia, including Crimea.

In the fall of 2022, Russia drafted 300,000 reservists, who have now received adequate training to join the frontlines. Ukraine also claims that Russia is mobilizing another 500,000 conscripts in addition to the 300,000 draftees in preparation for a new major offensive.

At the height of the invasion, Russia controlled 27 percent of Ukraine’s land, but that has now dropped to 15 percent.

“I believe that the fighting will not stop until either side gives up, and unfortunately both sides seem stubborn. In the best case we should hope for some form of peace negotiation, where it will be inevitable that Russia would get something,” said the anonymous student.

“I think that this war will end with nobody winning. It’s all pointless fighting and both sides will suffer a lot. The destruction of the economy, infrastructure, and immense loss of life will be a reminder to Russia, Ukraine, and the world for many years to come,” said Boychuk.

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