War in Ukraine: The big and small picture

Eoin Ryan

What we are currently seeing is not only traumatic for those involved, but is also changing the modern world for better or worse.

Ukraine is not only facing an invasion against a much more powerful country, but faces a humanitarian crisis due to the inhumane tactics Russia is using.

There is more than enough evidence to prove Russian soldiers are shooting civilians on site in certain areas and this does not include other war crimes committed against Ukraine and its people.

“I saw it all, the piles of corpses in the streets, all dead. I saw it all, they are still lying there, not everyone was collected,” a survivor said to an AL Jazeera reporter.

Another story comes from a Mother who explained how they could not even go to the river to get water as they would be shot so they melted snow to drink so they could survive. They had to bury their friends and neighbours in bomb craters.  Eventually she and her family escaped without any belongings and after three weeks of travelling arrived in the refugee safe house in Warsaw.

This does not even mention the problems that, if this war continues, the international community will face because of this. The greatest international crisis which this war is expected to cause will be from worldwide wheat shortages. Ukraine is the fifth largest wheat exporter and Russia the largest and this war means many farmers will be on the frontlines instead of harvesting crops.

Speaking in the Oireachtas last Wednesday, Zelenskyy explained how  “Without our [Ukraine’s] exports, this is not just about the deficit and the threat of hunger, hunger for more than dozens of countries, Asia, and Africa but even more, because there will be a shortage of food and prices will go up and this is a reality for millions of people who are hungry…and what will happen as a result of this crisis at the very least there will be political turbulence and at maximum there will be binges of violence and new refugees who will be looking to save their own lives.”

Lebanon is one such country that will be greatly affected as 60% of their wheat supply is provided by Ukraine. Their reserves will only last another month or two due to the Beirut explosion which occurred in 2020, causing political upheaval and a heavier reliance on food exports.

Despite being an underdog in this war, however, Ukraine has held back Russia for over a month and continues to do so. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown himself to be a formidable leader when faced with adversity, and a great propagandist in order to build international support for his country.

The line “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” said by Zelenskyy in response to a US evacuation request, was just the beginning of this war of words. 

Zelenskyy is not the only Ukrainian leader using this to his advantage as Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv former heavyweight boxing champ uses his worldwide fame to spread awareness. His brother Wladimir Klitschko, also well known as a former heavyweight champ, has also joined the fight.

Current heavyweight boxing champ Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko, a champion in three separate weight classes and arguably one of the best pound-for-pound best in the sport are two other boxers joining the lines.

Other athletes are also fighting such as Sergiy Stakhovsky, the four-time ATP Tour title winner who has stopped his tennis career until the war is over.

Social media is a large driving force in Ukraine’s propaganda as these celebrity figures express their support for Ukraine and their homeland online.

One such post from Sergiy Stakhovsky on Instagram reads:

“Never in my life I would expect that I will have to wear bulletproof vest in #Kyiv .

It’s a disaster the way RUSSIA invaded Ukraine 🇺🇦…. Bombing cities…killing innocent people….

World we must unite to make it stop.. to put putin where he belongs.. PRISON CELLAR”

Regular Ukrainian citizens and their heroism have also been on full display as their nationalist pride is something many states can only dream of. The one show of heroism above the rest was expressed by Roman Gribov, the man known for telling a Russian warship “go f*** yourself” before dying by its bombardment. 

We can not forget to mention the farmers of Ukraine able to steal the enemy’s tanks with nothing but a tractor and a dream. Also, for anyone curious on how to drive a Russian tank, a Tik Tok influencer Nastya Tuman uploaded a video explaining the whole process.

Ireland and the European Union have shown their support for Ukrainians despite a long history of neutrality. 

Ireland has committed €31 million in aid, but the military equipment it is contributing is limited to items like body armour and meals ready to eat.

10 million people are thought to have fled their homes since the crisis began According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Approximately 4 million to other countries, and 6.5 million are displaced within Ukraine. 

Of this number 13,500 refugees have arrived in Ireland, and 100,000 are expected to arrive in Ireland by the end of the war.

Charities that are still seeking physical donations for those wanting to contribute. They  are requesting items including; batteries, torches, new or in very good condition thermal clothing, hats and gloves, antiseptic, nappies, wound dressings, sanitary products, sleeping bags and bedding.

Ratoath college started their own ‘Collection for Ukraine’ campaign where for two weeks staff, students and their families have been making donations to the people of Ukraine.

Team A1 Transport was met by a Ukrainian vehicle and Henryk Podsiadly with his volunteers from The Christian Joy Foundation and donations were shipped across to the Ukrainian vehicle. The goods are being delivered to a town called Rivne in Ukraine to be further distributed into the East of Ukraine.  

The Irish people have shown their support through other methods of ‘expression’, such as ramming a truck into the Russian embassy’s gates. The Russian embassy criticised this act, but I think Reverend John Walsh speaks for many when he “got a bit of a thrill” watching the video.

“But much more important than money is commitment, is emotional commitment to Ukraine, in rejoining Europe and being at the heart of Europe, the heart of our priorities, and the Ukrainian national anthem translates into English as ‘Ukraine has not perished yet.,”Prof. Of Politics at DCU Donnacha Ó Beacháin said. “Ukraine is not dead yet.’ It’s not dead. It’s thriving, it’s surviving and it will survive.”

Personally, there are very few better forms of emotional commitment Ireland can give than a priest getting a thrill at Russia’s expense. 

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