Months of bloody conflict in Ukraine has reshaped the world order.
An 9-year-long conflict in Eastern Ukraine that started in 2014 escalated into a full-scale war when Vladimir Putin started his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
More than one year have passed since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Since then, many lives have been lost, thousands of houses have been burnt down, and peace talks have taken a back seat. There are no signs of Russia backing out or Ukraine surrendering.
Many expected the war to be over in several weeks, for Russia to prevail and Ukraine to fall apart quickly amidst the indecisiveness of the West. But Ukrainian resistance, unexpected weakness of the perceived second strongest army in the world, and a strong Western response have created a completely different situation. This can only mean that the war is going to continue.
Despite Ukraine’s outward show of strength and resilience, front-line troops suffer not only physical wounds but also psychological ones.
“This war is scarier than World War II” – a citizen in Ukraine said. The armymen said that when they go for war they feel that they’re playing lottery with their life. There are booby traps all over the places with grenades, or mines. Every building around there is destroyed – bullet holes in the cars, residential buildings etc.
“I looked at my son before going to bed and understood that if the Russian soldiers were not stopped where I was, they could reach Kyiv again. I thought of my little son and asked myself – will someone else raise my son!” – Rifleman Alexey Shevchenko said. The rifleman worked in construction before the Russian invasion. Within weeks, he was on the frontlines in the East under constant massive artillery fire. He said he would fall to the ground for cover, take out his phone and amid the deafening blasts swiped to a photo of Danya, his 7-year-old boy back in the capital. Heart-breaking!
Some suffer from post-traumatic stress, a psychological problem and others from traumatic brain injuries, damage which can be caused by blast waves of explosions – symptoms for both includes suicidal thoughts or depression, insomnia and anger. Door slam or firecrackers trigger the terrifying feeling that they are under fire again. Bodies buried or lying on the ground are either booby trapped or shot. Thousands of children are being injured and killed in the war, also suffering the trauma of being attacked.
This war is in contrast with the ones before, because it’s being fought by people who have no previous military experience i.e., by the civilians. They witness bodies blown apart. They try to rescue their brothers, bandaging wounds without any certainty of survival. People have been resorting to commit suicides – for being able to bear the loss of someone, to get rid of their sufferings. People’s lives have been turned on their heads.
A Brief Summary of the War
After months of uncertainty amidst warnings from the United States and the United Kingdom about an impending Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia attacked Ukraine from 4 main axes with an estimated 150k-strong force. On the capital Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy from Belarus in the North, on Kharkiv from the Northeast, on the Ukraine-controlled Donetsk oblast and Luhansk oblast from Southeast, on Kherson and Melitopol from Crimea in the South.
Russia’s official pretext from this invasion, which they called the Special Military Operation, was to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine. Russia also claimed that Ukraine has Biolabs creating bioweapons, but failed to prove it. Another justification was the possible Ukrainian acceptance into NATO, but the alliance doesn’t allow countries with territorial disputes to join it. On top of that, we have recently learned that in the first days of the invasion, Ukraine offered Russia to give guarantees of its neutral status, but Putin rejected that, showing that NATO accession was just a pretext.
The Kremlin’s strategy was based upon an assumption that the Ukrainian government and the military would crumble very quickly. According to the Washington Post investigation, Putin was misled by his intelligence, which argued that the Ukrainian government was unpopular and that the Ukrainians were going to meet the Russians as liberators. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Despite the decent initial advance of the Russian army, the pain prize, Kyiv stood tall. Buoyed by defiant Ukrainian presence of Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian society refused to give up on its country’s independence.
The Ukrainian army was also much stronger in comparison with 2014. Strengthened with anti-tank Javelins and NLAWs, it managed to inflict painful losses to the Russian armoured force, while withdrawing towards cities in an orderly manner and harassing Russian supply lines.
Russian airborne attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv failed. A 65-kilometer-long mass armoured column of the Russian army advancing on Kyiv did not change the tide in the battle of Kyiv either.
But, why did Kyiv not fall within 3-4 days, as the US government expected? Investigations and analyses of the Russian invasion of Ukraine seem to conclude that Russia did not expect much resistance in Ukraine. The Russian command believed that Kyiv would fall quickly, which would cause a chain reaction all over Ukraine.
The fall of the Ukrainian government would break the spirit of the Ukrainian army to fight and Russia would freely advance as it did at the start of the conflict in 2014. So, when Ukraine offered a spirited resistance, Russia was simply not ready for this.
Poor coordination between different military units and branches, inability to conduct major offensive operations, low morale of Russian soldiers, inability to ensure stable supply of the forces in the frontline, and a failure to establish air superiority doomed Russia into a long, protracted and bloody campaign in Ukraine.
According to the UN report, as of August 21st, 5587 Ukrainian civilians had been killed and 7890 had been injured since the start of the war. The UN also stated that as of August, 7 million Ukrainians have fled the war. Thousands of Ukrainian children were kidnapped to Russia for adoption.
The human suffering caused by the Russian invasion is difficult to measure and account for, but it is clear that tens of thousands have died, millions have fled and hundreds of villages, towns and cities have been destroyed or heavily damaged since the start of the war.
After months of destruction of the Russian ammunition and oil depots in the Southern front, and key supply points like the Antonivskyi Bridge in Kherson, Ukraine finally launched its long awaited counter-offensive. Ukraine has made decent progress in the counter-offensive, which is ongoing as we write, advancing towards Kherson from three different directions.
Ukraine has conducted its most successful operation of the war yet. Ukraine has liberated Balakliya, most of Kupiansk and Izium, while advancing on Liman. Ukrainian counter-offensives show that after months of defending and reacting to the Russian movement, Ukraine has managed to capture initiative and momentum on the battlefield for the first time in this war.
Its people continue dying in defense of their country, while their cities, infrastructure and economy continue being destroyed. Kyiv has felt and seen a barrage of fresh attacks. But life in the capital goes on with a semblance of surreal normality.
Writer’s Note – I, on behalf of Mahabahu, offer our support for the Ukrainian brothers and sisters. Assam is worried, and is walking hand in hand with you, from thousand miles away, in this hour of stress and terror. We believe in victory in the power, strength and experience of the soldiers. Every loss will be in the heart of us. Mahabahu has tried to cover the situation in Ukraine, the havoc wreaked in the lives of the civilians from day 1 of the war. We are here, standing behind you. We empathise with you immensely, and are proud of you.
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