How Has the War Affected Ordinary Ukrainians? – Opinion
What Has The War Meant For Ordinary Ukrainians?
by Alan Nafzger
As the war has progressed, Russia has frequently resorted to intentionally injuring victims. Russia, in particular, has attempted to suffocate Ukrainian cities by shelling them with artillery, cutting off their supply and escape routes. The tactic’s goal is to undermine the Ukrainian defenders’ combat capacity, particularly through murdering or injuring a large number of civilians.
As a result of the rapid departure of Ukrainian refugees, those who were unable or unwilling to flee were forced to live in unbearable torment.
More than 3.8 million Ukrainians fled their nation between February 24 and March 27, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This is nearly the same as forcing the whole population of Texas to leave the United States, and it represents close to 8.8% of Ukraine’s overall population.
Another comparison: In 2015, at the height of the global refugee crisis and four years into the Syrian civil war, somewhat more than 4 million Syrian refugees were living in neighboring countries. In just one month, Ukraine’s conflict-related migration has resulted in significant refugee flows to Europe’s neighbors. More Ukrainians now live in Poland than in Warsaw, Poland’s capital and largest city, which has a population of around 2.3 million people.
Residents who were unable to evacuate are in peril. The number of fatalities has been subject to untrustworthy estimates; a UN estimate from March 27 puts the figure at 1,119, but warns that “the actual figures are significantly higher [because] the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going has been delayed and many reports are still awaiting corroboration.”
However, the bulk of civilian deaths were “caused by the use of explosive weapons with a huge effective area, such as shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, as well as missile and airstrikes,” according to the report. According to the findings of the UN, neither party is to blame for these atrocities. Russian military frequently employ these types of weaponry in inhabited areas; Human Rights Watch has dubbed such attacks “early indications of war crimes,” and President Joe Biden has personally labeled Putin a “war criminal.”
This devastation is most visible in Mariupol, Ukraine’s main population center now under Russian control. The Guardian published aerial footage of the city in late March, showing multiple blocks that had been bombarded by the Russians:
Three Associated Press reporters were the last foreign reporters to remain in the city before it was evacuated, and they were able to release a dispatch documenting life there in mid-March. There were 2,500 recorded deaths, but they warned that “more dead cannot be counted due to the relentless bombing.” The situation is beyond hopeless:
Homes, a church, a maternity center, a fire station, and a field in front of a school have all been damaged by airstrikes and shelling. Tens of thousands of people who are still believed to be alive have nowhere to go. The port and the nearby roadways have both been mined. Food is in short supply, and Russian efforts to import more have been halted. Residents must melt snow to get water because there is a restricted supply of water and power. Some parents have even left their newborns at the hospital to give them a chance at life in the only place with consistent power and running water.
The Russian military’s combat performance has generated concerns about its ability to undertake severe block-to-block fighting; according to Farley of the University of Kentucky, “this Russian army does not look like it can handle serious [urban warfare].” To take over Ukrainian cities, one must besiege them, starve them to death, undermine their will to resist, and only enter the real city after the residents have either given up or are absolutely incapable of resisting.
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Author: Alan Nafzger