Ukraine Update

Menaka Garapaty and Jackson Stephens

 The world looked on in shock when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February. Attacks came from land, sea, and air as Ukraine scrambled to assemble its armed forces to prepare a counterattack. 

Soon after, Russia was sanctioned by the United States and the European Union, among others, as well as suffered from having myriad businesses close their doors to Russian citizens. 

One of the main reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion was because Ukraine has become increasingly similar to Western nations in terms of political structure and ideology. Putin felt that because of this, Russia could not feel “safe [and could not] develop and exist.”

Ukraine recently expressed interest in joining NATO (Atlantic Treaty Organization), a defensive alliance formed after the Second World War by Allied countries in an attempt to counter the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact, a similar defensive alliance that consisted of Russia and its spheres of influence. 

The Russia-Ukraine War has seen its ups and downs but Ukraine has largely been successful in stopping the Russian offensive and in some cases been able to regain territory. 

Ukraine has also seen some economic victories, such as on July 22 when Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement that allowed Ukrainian ships carrying wheat to leave Ukrainian ports for the first time since the invasion began, meaning that farmers would be able to profit off this year’s harvest. 

Russia fired back four days later, however, announcing that it would reduce the amount of gas it sent to Europe from 40% to 20% of maximum capacity, halving Europe’s supply. European leaders were forced to reduce natural gas usage by 15% as a result. 

There has also been a nuclear scare involved in this conflict because of a nuclear power plant in a city called Zaporizhzhia. The plant has been hit by multiple missile strikes, which caused the reactors inside to become damaged while Russia, who occupied the plant at the time, would not allow United Nations nuclear inspectors inside to evaluate the extent of the damage. 

The plant was shut down on September 11 by engineers who found a way to reconnect the plant to Ukraine’s central power grid, allowing them to power off all of the plant’s reactors and put the plant into what is called a “cold shutdown,” a state that greatly reduces the chances of a nuclear accident. 

Now, entering the sixth month of the war, many domestic issues have demanded the attention of Americans from the European conflict. When the conflict first started, influencers with a large platform urged their followers to stay educated and provide support of any kind. But with a summer filled with political scandals and overturned Supreme Court cases, activism has waned amongst the common American, and only continues through the motivated few or large organizations. This change is prevalent even at Olathe North. 

In May of 2022, both the Eagle Service Club and National Honor Society hosted a fundraiser for Ukrainian aid. Through a bake sale, the two clubs collected over $250 in funds. However, there have not been any recent school-led initiatives, especially with summer break beginning shortly after the invasion. 

Ukraine’s recent efforts have brought them closer than ever to a country free from Russian influence but all that can change in the blink of an eye. Whether you’re an Olathe North student or a cashier in New York, staying up to date on events in the region is important as the whole world is watching this first-of-its-kind conflict.