The Russian invasion of Ukraine began exactly 100 days ago on Feb. 24, 2022. For millions of Ukrainians displaced by brutal bombardment, both running for their lives and fighting for the survival of their country and their culture, these past 100 days must feel like years; their every day filled with both terror and the longing to go home.
But the reality is — they can’t go home. At least not to the peaceful, everyday lives they had 101 days ago. Their reality is war; thrust upon them, and their heroism has been matched only by their resiliency.
As of today, Russia appears to be in control of 20 percent of the nation of Ukraine. If this were us — if the 20 percent of our country was seized — say 10 of our Western states from Montana and Minnesota to Idaho, North Dakota and Oregon, Colorado to California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico were seized and we were force-marched to that invading country and put in an indoctrination camp — would we do this willingly?
I asked this question of a friend here who said “Hell, no”.
This hellish nightmare is brought to us by aggressive dictator Valdimir Putin, who holds fanciful ambitions of empire over his neighbor that has upended the lives of not just Ukraine, but the world.
While the nations of the West, marshaled by U.S. President Joe Biden have hung together, this past week Russia began cutting off oil supplies to more European Union nations; an energy spigot that is attempting to hold the world hostage.
But the inconveniences the rest of this world must handle because of Russia pales in comparison to what the Ukrainian people are enduring.
The World Health Organization now estimates that one in every three Ukrainians, of a population of more than 40 million people, is now a refugee. Every single Ukrainian child has now been traumatized. The toll of this destruction is reminiscent of Europe during and after World War II.
How many mothers and fathers, sons and daughters have been killed in 100 days? thousands.
How many limbs lost? How many children brutalized and traumatized? Thousands and thousands.
How many buildings have been obliterated in Ukraine? Estimates are 38,00o buildings, including at least 1,900 schools, clinics, maternity and children’s hospitals, eldercare facilities, libraries, and cultural centers, even though clearly marked as shelters for children, and places treating sick and wounded..
How many towns have been reduced to rubble? Hundreds.
In fact, The Times of India estimates that in the first 100 days of this war of aggression that 35 percent of Ukraine’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been wiped out by the war.
How many thousands dragged by Russia back behind a new iron curtain? Unknown.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of Ukraine’s grain exports — the world’s bread basket — are blocked from shipping out of its Black Sea Port of Odessa — the world may now be facing famine.
The grim videos and photos tell a brutal tale of bodies, so many bodies, so much destruction. The human toll is staggering and it is not over. The infrastructure lost, the culture being obliterated — in a war such as we have not seen since World War II. A war with no set ending; but against a determined nation and its leader determined to hold on to its democracy, and its culture.
If there was ever such a thing as a just defense of a nation and of democracy — it is this, and it is now.
For a retrospective of Associated Press and Radio Free Europe photos of the war — follow this link:
For a full range of videos of the slaughter that continues in Ukraine, follow this link:
Featured image:Photo Associated Press.