The Resistance Rises
March 3, 2022
Throughout the week, Russia has been targeting the capital city of Kyiv, which they hoped to take control of with military force. However, Ukraine’s military has held up surprisingly well considering their circumstances. They are severely outnumbered and underfunded when compared to Russia but have successfully used guerilla warfare against Russian troops. It seems that Russia thought that they would be welcomed as liberators and were genuinely shocked when the Ukrainians fought back. President Zelenskyy asked all men in the country between 18 and 60 to take up arms against the Russians, and most of them have. Even those who can’t fight are helping the cause: teams of mothers and grandmothers are making Molotov cocktails to throw at soldiers, and teenagers too young to fight are removing and replacing road signs so invading Russians will get lost.
Perhaps the biggest asset to the Ukrainian cause is President Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy and the members of his cabinet have been fighting in the streets of Kyiv and posting social media videos to encourage the people of Ukraine. Zelenskyy has recently gone underground for his own safety, as he is Russia’s number one target (with his family as number two), but he refuses to leave his country. When the American State Department offered to get Zelenskyy out of the country, he replied, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” A former actor and comedian, Zelenskyy is the most popular Ukrainian leader in recent history, and his courage and charm have won him fans from all over the world.
Another reason that Ukraine currently has an advantage is due to the fact that the Russian troops seem to be very ill-prepared. When captured by Ukrainian citizens, several troops have told the Ukrainians that they were told this was all part of training exercises. When told by the Ukrainians what was truly going on, many have refused to fight or have even helped Ukraine. Still other soldiers are sabotaging and abandoning their tanks, as they don’t want to fight Ukraine, as it is common in Russia to have friends and extended family living in Ukraine. While there are plenty of Russian soldiers looting homes and killing opponents, the low morale of a large number of troops is hindering Russia’s battle plans.
This is not to say that the fighting hasn’t been bad. Today, Ukraine has reported over 2,000 deaths, while Russia has reported its first death. These numbers are obviously suspect: the UN has difficulty confirming casualties in an active war zone, is Russia is definitely not reporting all casualties. More than that, the constant bombing of Kyiv (a city about the same size as Chicago) and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city (around the size of San Diego), has displaced more than 800,000 Ukrainian citizens. A majority of these refugees are trying to flee the country through neighboring Poland.
While trains are running night and day to get Ukrainian citizens to safety, these refugees still face major problems after leaving Ukraine. BIPOC individuals fleeing Ukraine are finding they aren’t being allowed through certain checkpoints on account of their race, and not all countries have been welcoming these refugees. Governor Jared Polis has pledged that any Ukrainian refugees may find sanctuary in Colorado… if they can get here. Some refugees lost everything, including identification and valuables, so traveling is extremely difficult for a majority of refugees. Several countries (including the United States) are also facing criticism for welcoming white European refugees from Ukraine when they have refused Syrian and Haitian refugees in the past couple of years.