Two Years Since Russia's Invasion: Resilience Amidst Tragedy in Ukraine

Two Years Since Russia's Invasion: Resilience Amidst Tragedy in Ukraine

As the world marks the grim milestone of two years since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the devastating human toll of this ongoing conflict looms large. For Ukrainians, it has been 10 years since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Despite the passage of time, the resilience and fortitude of the Ukrainian people continue to shine amidst the darkness of war.

A year ago, we interviewed our employee Viktoriia Klymenko about the realities of life during the war, when there were constant blackouts and interruptions in the country's electricity and water supply. We decided to repeat the interview a year later and find out what has changed.

What does a typical day look like for you amidst the ongoing conflict?

It still starts with air raid sirens and explosions. This is instead of an alarm clock. But the air raids became a little less; we have an excellent anti-aircraft defense. There were almost no power outages this year, and they were only sporadic in the cities closest to the front. They are shelled every day. Civilian houses are attacked every day, with casualties. We all go to bed knowing that we may not wake up. It has become so commonplace that it is not even scary. And it's scary.

How do you handle the daily reports of/scenes of destruction in your country?

The devastation is palpable, a constant reminder of the horrors of war. The destruction wrought by the conflict is impossible to ignore. Communities lie in ruins, their once-thriving streets now silent and desolate. The indiscriminate targeting of civilians has left a trail of heartbreak and despair in its wake. For many, the trauma of witnessing the destruction of their homes and neighborhoods is a burden too heavy to bear.

The targeting of civilians, including those attempting to flee, is a stark reminder of the brutality of Russians. They enjoy it; they crave it, and they will not rest until they destroy us all.

The last event that struck me was the shelling of Kharkiv by Shaheds. As a result of the Russian attack by Shaheds on the night of February 10, seven people died, including children aged 7 and 4 and an infant. . All the dead children were from the same family. The mother hid with the children in the bathroom but all burned in their homes. Sadly, there was not even a coffin for the youngest, only a handful of ashes.

Memorial of Putyatin family in Kharkiv, on February 12, 2024. Photo: Larisa Govyna/Suspilne Kharkiv

When the Russians blew up the Kakhovka dam - I lay in bed for several days sobbing and unable to even move. What struck me was not the amount of terrorism by the Russians but the lack of reaction from the world. No one came to help. No one has held Russia accountable. The destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine is not just a blow to our infrastructure but a catastrophic loss for our environment and future. The environmental devastation extends far beyond physical damage, with irreplaceable ecosystems lost forever.

However, amidst the rubble and despair, hope endures. Ukrainians refuse to be silenced by the horrors of war, instead finding strength in their shared determination to defend their homeland. The spirit of solidarity that has emerged in the face of adversity serves as a beacon of hope for a brighter future.

Streets are flooded in Kherson, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 7, 2023 after the walls of the Kakhovka dam collapsed. Libkos/Copyright 2023 The AP

What keeps you and your fellow citizens fighting as this war drags on?

Our motivation runs deeper than mere duty; it flows from the very essence of who we are as Ukrainians. We are driven by an unwavering commitment to defend our homeland, not just for ourselves but for future generations who deserve to inherit a land free from the shadows of Russian oppression and aggression.

Surrender has never been an option for us, for to yield would mean forsaking the sacrifices of those who came before us and betraying the dreams of those yet to come. Our fight is not just for soil and territory; it is a battle for the soul of our nation, a struggle to preserve the very fabric of our identity and way of life.

Despite the unimaginable sacrifices and hardships endured, we stand firm in our resolve to see this through to the end. For every life lost and home destroyed, we find renewed strength to carry on, fueled by the unwavering belief that justice will prevail and peace will one day reign.

Our fight is not just against an external aggressor but a battle against injustice and tyranny wherever they may be found. We refuse to be cowed by fear or intimidation, for we know that the power of our collective will is far greater than any weapon of war.

As a young citizen of Ukraine, what do you want to say to the rest of the world?

Our message to the world is one of urgent plea and unwavering resolve. This conflict transcends borders; it is not merely Putin's war but a stark reminder of humanity's collective failure to confront aggression and injustice wherever it rears its head.

The scale of destruction of Mariupol is shown by these photos from before and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The complicity of the Russian people cannot be brushed aside either. Widespread support for their government's actions underscores the gravity of our situation. It is not enough to condemn from afar; action is required, decisive, and unwavering.

The international community must stand in solidarity with Ukraine, not just in words but deeds. We call upon nations around the globe to unite in holding Russia accountable for its egregious actions and to impose meaningful consequences for the atrocities committed against innocent civilians.

Silence is not an option; indifference is not acceptable.

We implore world leaders to set aside political differences and prioritize defending fundamental human rights and democratic principles. Our struggle is not just ours alone; it is a fight for the values that bind us as a global community.

To turn a blind eye is to condone the suffering of millions; to remain silent is to betray the very ideals we claim to uphold. Now is the time for action, for solidarity, for justice. Together, we can and must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are held accountable and that the people of Ukraine receive the support and solidarity they so desperately need.

Do you expect the fighting to go on as long as it takes?

We are fighting against the largest army in the world. Try to imagine the scale: 33.7 million people against 146 million people.

Russia's war against Ukraine on the map

We are indeed the shield of Europe and the world, but we cannot do without help. If Ukraine falls, the entire democratic world will fall.

Therefore, it is painful to watch the news when the US Congress goes on vacation without approving a military aid package for Ukraine, when presidents use the issue of Ukraine in their political games and manipulations, when Russians shoot war prisoners, when the pro-Russian Polish farmers block the border, spill our grain, which was given with blood and then block transit military equipment... Sometimes, it seems to us that the world is losing its mind and enjoying the genocide in the center of Europe.

The world must heed the lessons of our prolonged struggle—a stark reminder of the consequences of inaction and indifference. We cannot afford to stand idly by as conflict rages on, as innocent lives are lost and communities torn apart. The time for decisive action is now, for solidarity and unity in the face of adversity.

As President Zelensky said, "Please do not ask Ukraine when the war will end. Ask yourself why Putin is still able to continue it."

What future do you see for your country when Ukraine wins?

Ukraine liberated from the shackles of Russian aggression is not merely a distant dream; it is an inevitable reality that beckons us with the promise of a brighter future. As we look ahead to the dawn of victory, we envision a nation reborn—a land of boundless opportunity and limitless potential.

Though deep and enduring, the scars of war will serve as a testament to our resilience and unwavering determination. They will remind us of the sacrifices, lives lost, and hardships endured in pursuing freedom and justice. But they will also serve as a source of strength—a reminder of our collective resolve to overcome adversity and rebuild our nation from the ashes of conflict. But our vision extends beyond mere restoration; it encompasses a profound transformation—a renaissance of our nation and its people. 

Our journey toward this future will not be easy, nor will it be without its challenges. But guided by the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people, we will overcome every obstacle that stands in our way. Together, we will build a stronger, more united, and more prosperous nation than ever before. This nation stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when courage, resilience, and determination unite in pursuit of a common goal.

Viktoriia is standing next to the monument of Princess Olga, who is carrying a bulletproof vest to draw attention to the problem of lack of female military wear in the army

So, to the world, we say this: stand with us as we embark on this journey toward a brighter tomorrow. Stand with us in solidarity and support as we strive to realize the full potential of our beloved Ukraine. And together, let us build a future that is worthy of the sacrifices made and the dreams that inspire us.