Invasion of Ukraine | The End of the Long Peace


Aleksey Filippov/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

A Ukrainian serviceman says goodbye to his girlfriend before departing in the direction of Kyiv at the central train station in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 9, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ainsley Kling, Opinion Editor

The overwhelming event occurring in the world currently is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The most pressing emotion I have right now is being scared. I am scared. Not of a draft, but what this means. I am concerned about the fragile world. I am worried that the long peace experienced after World War II is over. I am scared because mutual assured destruction is something in our vocabulary, unlike in past global conflicts. 

What struck me today was how unconcerned some people seem to be about the potential impacts of this war. How can

A servicewoman reacts during funerals of Dmytro Kotenko, Vasyl Vyshyvany and Kyrylo Moroz, Ukrainian servicemen killed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 9, 2022. (Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

everyone be so calm when the largest conflict and invasion on European soil since World War II is occurring? We can list the numbers killed during World War II, but to witness the damage first-hand is totally different. I wonder if this is how  Americans felt when Europe once again erupted into conflict in 1914 and 1939. I wonder if they thought that something important was happening, that they were on the cusp of the world-changing. I wonder if they were struck by how normal everything felt in the United States, where life didn’t change except for discussing far-off places in Europe. 

I am saddened that people, especially Russian President Vladimir Putin, have forgotten the human cost of war. Recently, I was listening to the Live UN General Assembly, and I heard the Ukraine Ambassador read texts from a Russian soldier to his mother moments before his death. He said, “Mama, I am in Ukraine…. I’m afraid.” This message chilled me to bone as, at that moment, I realized just how young these soldiers were. They are only a few years older than me, the age of my cousins and classmates. I can’t imagine my cousins going to war at 22. They are just beginning life. One just got married this year, while the other just graduated college. I can’t imagine my classmates fighting. They are concerned about college applications, not whether or not their friends are fighting in a war.

Medics gather by a high-rise apartment block which was hit by recent shelling in Kyiv, on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Is it selfish to be happy right now? Is it selfish to be a teenager for once when people around my age are being conscripted by the Russian Army? I love history, but I never thought I would be experiencing some of its darkest moments. I thought I would learn about European war and conflict from the safety of history books and films. I thought life-changing events were not going to happen anymore. I am scared. I am scared for my future, but I have hope. I have hope as I have a family and love.