Opinion: What’s going on between Ukraine and Russia


Photo by Sergii Atamanchuk

The largest Pysanka (Easter Egg) museum in the world located in Kolomyia, Ukraine.

Sofiya Melnychuk, Culture Editor

A certainty that tomorrow will exist is something that every Ukrainian can only dream of now.

Recently, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been escalating greatly, leaving the Ukrainian people in panic and uncertainty.  As a person who was born and raised in western Ukraine, this is more than just a conflict. It’s not simply a piece of news that I hear and forget about right after.

This conflict touches my country, my city, and my family. Watching this conflict grow has been devastating. For the past couple of weeks, the Ukrainian people have been living in emotional terror from all of the events. Starting from a massive cyber-attack to negotiations with NATO, Russia is making it clear that it’s ready to take any measures to get “its own territories back.”

For the past eight years, the center of the conflict was in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border. Many people from the east moved to central and western Ukraine for safety reasons. Yet, the current situation puts the whole country in danger, including western Ukraine. This rapid rise of conflict looks and feels immensely frightening. For many years, with the war going on in the east, I would never think that the danger would move to the west as well.

National Museum of Hutsulshchyna and Pokuttya Folk Arts in Kolomyia, Ukraine. (Photo by Sergii Atamanchuk)

Now, the danger feels closer than it ever has before. Although my home town Kolomyia is about 600 miles away from the east, and the Russian border, it is only 300 miles away from the capital, Kyiv. Thus, in case of an invasion, getting to the capital and to Kolomyia is just a matter of hours, especially considering the number of Russian troops.

The Russian government has sent more than 100,000 troops along its border, sent heavy weapons, and began to position forces along the Belarus-Ukraine border. The situation has caused Ukrainian Julia Tymoshenko to write about her home country on Instagram.

“Since Jan. 12, Ukraine has experienced a wave (more than 600 places around the country) of false reports claiming that explosives or mines had been planted in schools, malls, and airports,” Tymoshenko said.

This very false report happened in the school that I went to back home around a month ago. I remember my mom calling me from school (she’s a teacher there) and saying that the whole school, which is around 1500 people, has been evacuated because a threatening message about a bomb was sent to the school. The email was full of hateful speech towards Ukrainians, saying that we will pay for everything we did, possibly meaning Ukraine’s sovereign existence.

The tension between Ukraine and Russia right now is the worst it’s ever been. After discussing the recent events with my family back home, one of my family members told me that “everything seems so uncertain now that we can’t be sure if tomorrow Ukraine is going to exist.” Hearing this about your home country is heartbreaking and terrifying.

After doing my research, talking to family and friends back home, I can say that there is a high possibility that Ukraine will be invaded by Russian troops. Many sources, including Russian leaders themselves, claim otherwise but the real picture looks different. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s latest assessment says the Russian government has now deployed more than 127,000 troops near Ukraine, according to CNN World.

The worst part about it is that we really don’t know when the invasion might happen. Could be tomorrow, could be next week, could be next month. As one of my family members said, everything is uncertain. All of these events might lead to nothing, but they also could lead to an all-out war. We don’t know. And that’s what makes it so complicated. My heart skips a beat every time I check the news because the possibility of hearing that the invasion started is high.

The other day my parents told me that the news channels recommend packing “emergency bags” in case of an invasion and to be ready at any time. Now the local news channels share the maps with the locations of bomb shelters, instructions on what to pack in the emergency bags, and suggestions from psychologists on how not to lose your mind during this time.

Ukrainians try to live their lives as they are normal, but at the same time pack emergency bags and plan evacuation strategies. This kind of news and these recommendations only show how dangerous the situation is. I want to believe that my home country has a chance of surviving and somehow resolving this conflict. But like I mentioned before, the real picture looks different, and it’s not very promising.