Opinions

One Year Later and the War Continues

Sean Rego ’26

Staff Writer

I will not forget the late night of February 23rd, 2022. I can remember the anxiety building up across the globe as more and more troops were raised upon Europe’s borders. Up until the moment of gunfire, we didn’t really understand what was to come upon Ukraine. It was during those dark, uncertain hours that the West went to sleep to nightmares of war and death. 

Approaching the anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian War, we must ask ourselves: Are we in a better position than a year ago? What is the future of the conflict? Are the lives of thousands of men, women and children worth all the devastation? Is the West doing its job, or is it throttling us all to a future of more bloodshed? While I’m a child of European immigrants, a Russian speaker, and a cousin to my Ukrainian relatives who may never see their homeland again, I write as an American when I ask these questions.

We cannot ignore the staggering death this war is causing. Rockets, guns and bombs have affected all lives across Eastern Ukraine. In December, senior US officials stated that there are 200,000 military casualties combined. As for the civilian estimates, over seven thousand noncombatants have been killed. 433 of the dead are children. In total, the death count becomes difficult to comprehend, especially in what we consider our modern times.

Furthermore more seven million Ukrainian women and children flee across Europe (including Russia) and the world. While nations like Poland are invested in the resettlement of the Ukrainian refugees, support can only go so far before states are overwhelmed by continual surges. I do not see how this prolongation benefits America’s current stance in Europe. Even with Ukraine’s advancements, combat continues to take place in its battered lands, which only means further slaughter. It’s a grim reality, but Ukraine is bleeding out. 

And what are the West’s solutions? How are we stopping the annihilation of Ukrainian lives? Well in the past weeks, we’ve only seen an upscaling in combat, with America sending 31 Abrams tanks– easily one of the most powerful tanks in the world– along with additional staggering weapons. Olaf Scholz’s hand was practically forced to send Leopard tanks to the East. And just last week, Zelensky made an unexpected visit to the United Kingdom, begging Rishi Sunak to send fighter jets. The Prime Minister, along with Presidents Macron and Scholz politely ignored the request. Despite the denial of the aircraft, the West has more or less continuously filled Ukraine to the brim with weapons, more powerful by the day. On the surface and in the short term, this is good for Ukraine, as it means that they can better push back against the invaders. Inevitably though, Russia will up its own game. On both sides, more deadly weapons means greater destruction. Stuffing Ukraine with deadly materiеl will only turn the reeling nation into ruble. 

From a solely proxy-war vision, I get what is being done. America is simply taking the opportunity to weaken a potential threat on the edge of her sphere. Everyday the war continues, Russia loses more men and materiel. But do we understand the incredible risk we are taking and the staggering numbers of death we permit? We cannot ignore that every battle taking place is over the remains of Ukrainian land, cities and homes. More so, this is no simple proxy-war where we can just pour money and guns and expect no repercussions. Russia, although considerably behind the might of the West, is no laughing matter. The country of 140 million is not only a nuclear power, but clearly an illiberal state that is not afraid of shedding blood. History, both ancient and modern, has told us that the Russian nation is not one to give in immediately, whether they lose or win. 

All we are doing is pushing the Russian state to more radical means to secure their slipping claims. We are not giving them a way for Ukraine or Russia to come to negotiations, rather we are essentially giving our blessing for further escalated war. We are telling the world that we pledge support not to Ukraine, but to the endurance of a bloody conflict. Let it be said that Ukraine has the right to secure its territory, but our duty is to ensure that there is a Ukraine at the end of all this, not just an empty shell of a war torn nation. I cannot bear the thought of any more bloodshed while America foots the bill. Our duty as the leaders of the free world must instead be to push for peace. 

It is not a position of weakness to force peace upon warring states. Russia has been economically stunted and militaristically crippled, and the world knows it. We have shown that Ukraine is no weak nation, and with good time, may join the likes of our Western allies. We must now show the world that peace will prevail over war. After all, some of America’s greatest shows of strength are from our peace negotiations. In 1905, America brokered the peace of the Russo-Japanese War, and in 1918 President Wilson’s 14 Points guided the German Empire to an armistice. Both of these American-lead peace agreements foreshadowed the rise of Pax Americana, or the longlasting age of relative world peace. I don’t see why the United States cannot negotiate from our current position of strength and, in the process, remind the world of our commitment to resolution. 

Every minute that passes, we feed the beast of chaos. We chance the lives of millions. We jeopardize the fragility of Europe. If we are involving ourselves, it shouldn’t be through a back door, but at the forefront of reasonable negotiations. A formidable demand from us would be enough to bring both sides to the table. It’s for all of the globe we need to see an end to the carnage. We cannot make a desert and call it peace.

Featured image courtesy of Dalibor Brlek / Alamy Stock Photo

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