The Very Human Part of War
Most media outlets, from the mainstream to the obscure, tend to only report on the decisions of politicians as they go about their war games. The conflict in Ukraine serves as a perfect example of this. There has been no shortage of coverage surrounding the comments coming from Putin, Zelensky, Biden, and numerous other global leaders. While the choices these individuals make certainly carry consequences for the economy, international relations, and other areas of governance, the people living with the conflict on a day-to-day basis carry the full weight of this war.
The conflict in the Donbas Region of Ukraine began in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea. Until recently, the casual news-follower likely forgot that there was still an active war in Europe. But for Ukrainians living in and around the conflict zone, the deplorable and treacherous conditions of war have been their normal for eight years. The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine has displaced over 1.5 million people. That is 1.5 million people that need to find new jobs, new homes, and new schools after enduring violence and surviving near-death experiences. To put it into context: during the European migrant crisis from 2015-2017 the very wealthy country of Germany only managed to resettle 1.4 million refugees. For a country dealing with a host of other issues such as corruption and a poor population, creating a system to assist these displaced peoples adds more strain to an already fragile infrastructure.
The strain of war transcends the systemic bureaucratic issues within the country; the Ukrainians are understandably worn out from the physical and emotional tolls of war. A recent documentary called “No Obvious Signs” chronicled a Ukrainian soldier’s struggles with PTSD, panic attacks, and reintegrating into society upon returning home from the front. Ukrainians have seen their countrymen and women physically maimed by modern weapons and are struggling to deal with this severe emotional and physical trauma.
Ukrainians are not the only ones impacted by this war either. Since the Kremlin continues to deny direct involvement with the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, they have had to deny the deaths of any Russian troops in the region. For the families that have lost loved ones fighting for the Russian military in these breakaway regions, this veil of silence has prevented them from claiming death benefits and the dignity of having their loved one’s passing acknowledged by the Russian government.
As observers of this war, we must not forget that an unfathomable amount of people suffer dire consequences as a result of this ongoing conflict. The decisions of world leaders bear considerable consequences for those living through this crisis and its ongoing fallout. But that should not obscure the raw and real stories of citizens who suffer because of those decisions.