As I sat at home last night, Feb. 23, I turned on the TV and watched as the world’s peace was shattered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I was only a kid when the World Trade Centres fell. I don’t remember that day clearly, except for the feeling of some seismic shift in the atmosphere around me.
The feeling of the world dropping out as I watched the news yesterday is how I imagine people felt watching those planes crash and the towers burn.
Helpless. Sickened. Most of all, afraid for the future.
Even now I find myself constantly checking for more and more news on how the invasion is unfolding; the colossal tug of war between imperial ambitions; and a nation and people fighting for their very existence.
This is not the will of any reasonable person in Ukraine, Russia, or the rest of the world. No one sane wants a war.
My mother and her brother with my grandparents all fled then-Czechoslovakia in 1968. They left because the Soviet Union sent in tanks to seize full control of the independent socialist nation, alongside 500,000 troops from the Warsaw Pact.
More than 100,000 Russian troops are, according to estimates, allayed against Ukraine from the north, east, and south.
My great-grandfather on my father’s side, according to what my grandmother has told, was captured by the Russians during the Second World War. As soon as he could, he left Europe and never returned – afraid that he would get recaptured.
I can only imagine how many families are now feeling that same fear; how many are leaving all they have and fleeing with their lives from their homes.
Photos and videos from Kyiv show the highways and roads west choked with families trying to escape.
What is happening is a profound tragedy.
Could it have been prevented? It’s impossible to know. Stronger actions after Crimea, stricter sanctions from more nations, better curtailing of Russian spending on foreign politics – all could have added to the political calculus at play.
All of that is cold comfort to those who are right now suffering, fighting, and dying to satisfy the raw imperial ambitions of Vladimir Putin.
The world needs to act. Our elected officials need to be called on to do more, to apply more pressure, however possible on the Russian regime.
I don’t have answers on what will solve this crisis.
All I know is that the people of the world have to stand together if we ever want peace.