OPINION: The War in Europe Intensifies

SmugMug Manhattan residents hosted a silent candle march in solidarity with Ukraine at Triangle Park on Tuesday, March 1st at 6 p.m. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group

Since the beginning of their counteroffensive against the Russian Federation earlier this month, the Ukrainian military proclaimed success in recovering their land. According to The Washington Post, Ukraine reclaimed more than 20 settlements within 24 hours, allowing them control over the east bank in the Kharkiv region bordering Russia. As Ukrainian forces prevailed Moscow retreated, before deciding how to proceed with their self-destructive invasion.

According to CNN, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian president, announced Ukraine’s triumph in recapturing over 3,000 square miles of land. Zelensky insisted Ukraine would not back down from its objective to salvage the remaining territory from Russian aggressors.

“Ukraine must be free – all of it,” Zelensky said in his video address.

There is no doubting the seriousness of Ukraine’s unexpected resistance and the vigor of Ukrainian combatants. A country 28 times smaller than its invader is putting up a more significant fight than anyone could have expected. Ukrainian nationalism is on the rise now more than ever — and with good reason. As far as the world is concerned, Ukraine will die on its feet before surrendering itself to Russian tyrants.

As a method of control over their people, Russian officials detain anyone who speaks out against their government, especially regarding the war in Ukraine. According to the New York Times, over 1,400 innocent residents from 38 Russian cities were detained for anti-war protests. These courses of action enacted by the Kremlin embody feeble attempts to strike fear in every Russian inhabitant and make examples out of those who don’t abide. These aggressive procedures merely depict the insecurity and instability of the mercurial president — Vladimir Putin.

Putin initially invaded Ukraine in February with 160,000 troops, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. In retaliation to Ukraine’s expert countermeasures, President Putin is now drafting 300,000 of their 25 million Russian military reserves to Ukraine in what Putin called a “partial mobilization,” according to the Kremlin.

“Few [Russian reservists] are actively trained or prepared for war,” according to the Institute for the Study of War, a research group based out of the United States.

Combat will no doubt worsen on the bloodstained soil of Ukraine, with both sides likely to suffer severely and neither poised to give up — not now and maybe not ever. Egotistical Putin is risking his legacy on the turnout of this war, pushing for any reason to immortalize him with the likes of other hysterical predecessors like Stalin. Meanwhile, Zelensky continues risking his life to lead his country into prosperous independence from Russian oppressors.

President Biden spoke at the U.N. General Assembly concerning Russia’s potentially dangerous actions against Europe. 

“Again, just today, President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe,” Biden said. 

Biden was not alone in his remarks as several other global figureheads spoke at the U.N. General Assembly to demonstrate their solidarity with Ukraine.

“We will not be intimidated,”  Josep Borrell, E.U. foreign policy chief, said.

The winning counteroffensive signals a turn of events for Ukraine, but for how long? It is unclear, though Putin’s threats of nuclear assail confirm the poorly prepared nature of Russia’s military operation, resembling a wounded animal on its last leg. 

With families being forced to fight or flee, Russian aggressors continue to proceed with their vicious crusade, leaving Ukraine to tend to the mess they’ve been dealt by the dangers of a militant, dictatorial Vladimir Putin. According to MSN, the British defense ministry warns that Moscow will likely respond through increased attacks on Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure following the counteroffensive.

Peace in Europe is a far-fetched dream dwindling further and further out of reach. No amount of support from any country — or any ghost native to Kyiv — could possibly avenge the savageness of this war in our lifetime. Ukraine’s counteroffensive is likely calm before the storm. They may be victorious today, but tomorrow is uncertain, and the words “partial mobilization” should not be underestimated. Putin is fixated on this war and willing to sink with his ship at the expense of humanity over some foolish post-soviet desire to steal land no longer theirs.

This is not a war fought from a television screen as many perceive it to be. It is as real as the nukes Russia imminently threatens the world with, not the imaginary ones from Iraq in 2003. If American boots were to touch the ground of Ukraine or Russia — and we should pray that they don’t — the world would be in shambles. As if the bodies weren’t being stacked high enough, we will feel the tremors of this war from halfway across the globe. Fighting a war for peace is as asinine a principle as fighting fire with gasoline. It just doesn’t work. 

The distress of war will reside and boil back up to the surface, waiting to thrash from the rubble again. Until then, we are left fixating on the atrocities oceans away, hoping the end of this war is not in vain, but by some chance, the result of this glimmering insanity moving swiftly in Ukraine’s favor — not just for their sake or ours even, but the preservation of us all.