Ukrainians call for international aid as Russian invasions escalate


Leah Allen '22

Global leaders and civilians condemn the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

After weeks of mounting tension, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of Ukraine Thursday, February 24.  Under the guise of “demilitarizing” the former Soviet republic, Mr. Putin initiated a multi-pronged attack on major Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, garnering global condemnation and resulting in mass civilian casualties, according to The New York Times.  Experts assert that the recent attacks may have global reverberations and threaten power balances beyond Eastern Europe, according to CNN.  As a result, attention has shifted towards the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and particularly the United States (US), as historic promoters of global democracy that have yet to send direct military aid to Ukraine, according to

Ukrainian citizens in Kyiv evacuate the city.  Courtesy of Mr. Brendan Hoffman

Ukraine declared itself an independent democratic country after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  In recent speeches, Mr. Putin argued that Ukraine poses a security threat to Russia and cited issues of genocide, extreme militarization, and “Nazification” in the area as reasons for Russia’s invasion.  These claims remain unfounded, according to

Experts in international affairs hypothesize that Mr. Putin’s motives stem from an effort to prevent the spread of Western influence to Central and Eastern Europe.  Since its establishment, Ukraine has remained a democracy and demonstrates a willingness to join NATO in its constitution.  NATO has already added several former Soviet territories in recent years including Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.  Mr. Putin’s attempts to seize control of Ukraine represent a final attempt to prevent the democratization of the region, according to The New York Times

Russian forces launched an air missile strike against territories surrounding Kyiv and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, which is located at the Russian border, at 5:00 a.m. Thursday, February 25.  The attacks spread across central and eastern Ukraine as the day progressed and military troops targeted the country from three sides.  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky instructed citizens in high-risk areas to attempt evacuation or shelter-in-place and called on Ukrainian civilians and veterans to assist with military efforts, according to CNNIn a press briefing after the first night of the Russian attacks, Mr. Zelensky criticized Western countries for their lack of direct military aid. 

“Who is ready to fight alongside us?  I do not see anyone,” Mr. Zelensky said, according to  “Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership?  Everyone is afraid.”

NATO is an intergovernmental military organization comprised of 30 countries that promotes democratic values and aims to ensure the freedom of its member countries through political and military efforts, according to  The Ukrainian government has expressed a desire to join the military alliance but remains excluded as a result of fierce Russian opposition, according to  

Despite mounting casualties and ongoing warfare in the area, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, announced February 24 that the alliance will not send troops to Ukraine.  International military interference in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict will likely have severe political and economic consequences.  Mr. Stoltenberg explained that NATO does not plan on becoming directly involved in the conflict unless Russia attacks NATO-affiliated territories.  Instead, member countries have publically expressed support and sent military weapons to the Ukrainian government, imposed economic sanctions on Russia, and deployed troops to protect neighboring countries within the military alliance, according to

Mr. Zelensky believes that NATO’s efforts have not aided the dire situation in Ukraine.  In an emotional speech February 25, he called on world leaders to take action. 

“We are defending our country alone,” Mr. Zelensky said, according to  “The most powerful forces in the world are watching this from a distance.  Did yesterday’s sanctions impress Russia? We hear in the sky above us and on our land that it is not enough.”

The US government, a member of NATO and a proponent of global democracy, has also decided not to deploy troops to Ukraine and instead levied sweeping economic sanctions on Russia, according to  This decision garnered criticism, particularly from the Ukrainian government.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges Ukrainian citizens to assist in military efforts and calls for international military aid.  Courtesy of

The US established diplomatic relations with Ukraine in 1991 with the objective of “realizing and strengthening a democratic, prosperous, and secure Ukraine more closely integrated into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures,” according to  Mr. Zelensky declared US President Joseph Biden’s refusal to use military power to “punish” Russia inconsistent with the US’s commitment to protecting and promoting democracy in the area, according to CNN

Fifty-two percent of Americans believe that the US should play a minor role in the military conflict, while 20 percent believe that the country should not become involved at all, according to CNN.  American involvement in the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine could have long-lasting consequences.  Some Americans argue that after internal threats to the country’s own democracy and given the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the US is not in a position to engage in conflict with Russia.  Domestic and international critics assert that the country has a responsibility to ward off dire global threats to democracy and human rights.

Continued military conflict in Ukraine will likely result in large-scale consequences for international human rights.  The Russian government has historically disregarded humanitarian law in their military campaigns in eastern Ukraine, Syria, and Chechnya, according to  Experts claim that prolonged conflict will threaten civilian livelihood, damage infrastructure, trigger mass food shortages, and potentially result in a refugee crisis.  In an interview with CNBC, Mr. Maksym, a civilian living in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, spoke of his desire for a peaceful future in Ukraine. 

“We do not want any aggressive moves to Ukraine,” Mr. Maksym said, according to  “We do not want to fight — we just want peace.  But I do not know how to create it.  Western countries have a lot of smart people who know how to stop [a conflict], so I hope we will get a decision [that lets us] live a happy and healthy life.”

Featured Image by Leah Allen ’22