On February 24, 2022 our nation woke to the news that the Russian military crossed the Ukrainian boarder with the goal overthrowing the government and to make Ukraine a part of Russia in the hopes of re-establishing the Soviet Union. For many, this came as terrifying news, and created a ripple of concern throughout our community. First, let us look at the significance of this event, and the fear that comes with it.
In 1991 Ukraine gained its independence when the Soviet Union dissolved creating 15 sovereign states: Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Ukraine also ranks high in the world for several reasons – 1st in Europe in recoverable reserves of uranium ores, 7th in the world for coal reserves, 1st in the world for sunflower and sunflower oil, 2nd in the world for barley, 3rd largest producer of corn, and with other agricultural devices can essentially meet the food needs of 600 million people.
In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula which provides a strategic access to the black sea. Currently Ukraine is not a member of NATO, or the European Union which is why no international troops have crossed the boarder to defend Ukraine. Many countries including the US, have placed sanctions on Russia, and provided other weaponry and monetary support to Ukraine. Both the SecDef and POTUS have stated that the US will not get involved with Russia and Ukraine, and if the time comes we will help defend our NATO allies.
As with any breaking news story, but especially where military conflict is provided, there is a wave of concern, fear and unknown that sweeps through our military community. Do deployments get extended? Will we see rapid deployments happen? Is WWIII going to start? Its times like these where there are usually more questions than answers while much of our community holds their breath.
A quick glimpse across social media and you will find the strong support for Ukraine. Regardless of where someone falls on the political spectrum, there has been a unanimous cry for Russia to stop and withdraw their troops. Everyone can agree that invading a sovereign country without cause is just something that should not happen.
Amid these cries of support are also cries of fear and concern. Over the past few weeks we have seen up to 11,000 troops get called up on a rapid deployment to stage in Germany and Poland, while other units remain on call for their notice. For the older generation of spouses, many are remembering the same feelings from when we went after terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Iraq. After the end of the Afghanistan War, as many spouses and families were finding a sense of calm this current conflict can almost feel like a shock of “here we go again.”
While many things remain uncertain at this time, one thing we do know is that there are many Ukrainian refugees that will need to settle somewhere, and there is a strong desire for everyone to do something to help. While some churches and other organizations have been gathering supplies to either send to Poland to hold for when evacuations to the US begin, there are a few immediate ways that you can do to support. A big trend last week was to book an AirBNB in Ukraine. One spouse booked a weekend for $19, and then messaged the host letting them know they were in fact not coming but wanted to support them. Another immediate way to support was to find digital downloads on Etsy from Ukrainian creators/owners. They have direct access to the funds, but as a digital download it does not require them to send anything.
As the US and the world tightens its sanctions around Russia, and Ukraine as the underdog continues to amaze the world with their fighting spirit, there will continue to be many more unknowns. But one thing that we can count on is the unity of our community to support each other in what lies ahead and increase our efforts to care for refugees.