As the war continues, Ukraine holds its ground

By Casey Carpenter

Russian forces moved into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, looking to capture key cities and force the country into submission, and the repercussions are even being felt at MTHS. 

Russian president Vladimir Putin declared the invasion a “denazification” of Ukraine, predicting it would take mere weeks, even days to capture most of the country. 

Currently, Ukraine still remains independent, having withstood the Russian forces for the past eight months. The country’s determination and ability to unite as one, along with President Volodymir Zelenskyy’s leadership has been able to push back the invaders and reclaim lost territories. 

On Sept. 6, Ukrainian forces launched an unexpected counteroffensive against Russian forces in Kharkiv Oblast. By Sept. 9, they managed to penetrate Russian lines, reclaiming major cities in the region and liberating many captured towns. 

Later that day, Russian troops were ordered to retreat and hit the ground running, with Ukrainian forces trailing behind. The most devastating loss for Russia would come in the fall of Izuim on the following day, as the city’s location was strategically important for Russian forces.

On the afternoon of Sept. 11, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the formal pullout of Russian forces from nearly all of Kharkiv Oblast, pushing Russian forces out of Northern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, 5,600 miles away, Terrace students and families feel the reverberations of the conflict. 

“I was happy when I heard that the Ukrainians stayed,” sophomore Liia Sharabova said. “I have family back in Russia, and what they [Russia] tell them is they [Russian troops] have to go back for the reasons of Russia, like Ukraine didn’t even do anything to them.”

Putin is as ruthless in propaganda as he is in invasion. Under his dictatorship, all news outlets and papers are controlled and written by the government to sway the support of the people living within Russian borders. However, it seems not all of Russia is convinced.

“I actually know a lot of people where when the war started on Feb. 22, in the middle of the night, a lot of people from there [Russia] who speak Russian, at that moment when the invasion began they just stopped speaking Russian. Only spoke English,” Sharabova said. “My father’s friends, who can speak Russian, are now speaking just English.”

Both here and in Russia, people are refusing to speak Russian as a defiance against Putin and to separate themselves from the Russian government.  Most Ukrainian and and many Russian civilians alike believe the war is only causing destruction.

“[I’m] hoping that my friends and family will be okay,” Sharabova said.

With recent declarations from Putin, it seems the campaign will not be slowing down. On Sept. 22, he made threats of nuclear destruction against Ukraine, sending 300,000 reserves to prove he’s serious about making sure Ukraine falls. On top of that, Putin has also called for a civilian draft. In the heat of this, thousands of Russian civilians fled to avoid the draft. 

Additionally, thousands are taking to the streets to protest against the invasion. Some Russian citizens have even resorted to attacking recruitment offices across the country, with thousands of citizens being arrested for doing so. 

President Biden made a speech when the threats came out, stating that any nuclear action would be met with a “catastrophic response,” and not elaborating further.

“He wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail. I don’t think he’s bluffing. I think the world is deterring it and containing this threat. We need to keep putting pressure on him and not allow him to continue,” President Zelenskyy said in an interview with CBS on Sept. 25.

A few days after the speech, Putin took action on four captured territories in Ukraine, with each of them holding votes to join Russia and be annexed. This wouldn’t be the first time Russia has done something like this, as in 2014, Ukrainian-owned Crimea was handed over to Russia. The United Nations made a response on the annexations, stating that it would mark a “dangerous escalation” that would jeopardize the prospects for peace in the region. President Zelenskyy said he is undeterred by the new annexations, pledging to retake and liberate all of his country’s territory currently under Russian control.