Should we be worried about Ukraine?


Owen Foster

The low rumbling cascades over the hills. Russian vehicles roll down the dirt road: large trucks carrying anti-aircraft weapons, transports filled with infantrymen, all heading towards their military installation. Villagers stand by in shock. There hadn’t been a military presence like this in years. What’s going on? 

   Not five miles from the border with Ukraine, the villagers know all too well that something is building. The Russian army is preparing for war. An invasion is imminent. 

   You’ve seen it before. News headlines bombarding the public with fears of rising tensions, war preparations escalating. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.  

   Nobody wants another Vietnam. Nobody wants war, except maybe weapon manufacturers and those who receive donations from the manufacturers, especially considering the fact the US recently ended their involvement in a 17-year war in Afghanistan. However, the escalation in Ukraine is approaching a boiling point fast, and war is becoming more possible by the day. 

   You, as a high schooler, are at the center of any conflict, in particular with your opinions. Yet, many of you don’t even know what is happening with Ukraine.

   It’s hard to miss the overseas trouble if you turn on your local news station or listen to NPR on the way to school. You tune out the noise of the problem because it’s another media hype up, or you just don’t care enough. This is interesting, considering you would be the one sent to fight in a war against Russia. 

   “Yellow Journalism has encouraged Americans to go to war in history, for example in Spain,” instructor Joette Gulbis said, who has noticed the media hype of the events unfolding. The media has been very adamant about the conflict with headlines emblazoning cries of war. However, the conflict is a lot more complicated than a simple war. 

   “On the surface, it appears that much of the conflict stems from Ukraine’s potential path to NATO,” Gulbis said. NATO adding Ukraine within the alliance would create a buffer to Russia on their future expansion. If they were to attack Ukraine, Russia would face war against the rest of the members of NATO. 

   Relating back to West Ottawa students, Gulbis emphasizes critical reading when you read the headlines on the conflict, “We need to question the value and the intent of our news sources when they cater to our emotions (like sensationalizing the Cold War) instead of evidence,” Gulbis said. 

   This is ever more apparent with headlines recently going back and forth by the hour on if Russia is pulling out their troops from the Ukrainian border, or on the brink of invading. Information is changing quickly, and you must keep up.
  Currently, the US is threatening sanctions on Russia if it decides to invade Ukraine. They have sanctions prepared on the technology needed for weapons and military gear, as well as financial sanctions making it more difficult for Russia to partake in global transactions. 

   On the notion of US sanctions, Gulbis points out how they might be less impactful in the long run, “While sanctions may have an impact, the tit-for-tat strategies may escalate to a point of meeting more of Putin’s demands. NATO may be in a position to consider some level of appeasement,” Gulbis said. 

   The US is planning on imposing sanctions first before any troops are sent. In addition, Biden plans to aid Ukrainian insurgents who would fight invading Russian forces. 

   Sound familiar? It should be since this is the same approach the US took in Korea and Vietnam. After providing weapons and training, the US became personally involved in the fighting. 

   Several students voiced their opinions on the growing concern in Ukraine, “All I know is that Russia could invade Ukraine,” Jr. Josh Pohl said. 

   “I feel it needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand,” Pohl said. “Going to war is a serious thing. There is obviously a sense of fear. I think I speak for everyone that there is a concern no matter what countries are involved.”

    If the US got involved, Pohl noted his support for US actions, “I would support the US getting involved without conflict. If conflict is needed, then they should do what needs to be done to stop the conflict,” Pohl said. 

   Sr. Emilio Casteneda adds to the sentiment of support for US action if conflict were to occur, “I would support the country because we have to be there for our allies,” Casteneda said. Alliances should be respected according to Casteneda, “Alongside the Allies of NATO, as much as they are there for us when we are in need of troops or backup, we should do the same,” Castaneda said. 

   Casteneda is still concerned about the events unfolding, “I have a little concern about what will happen with the situation. Whether this will lead to a war or will Russia come to an agreement.,” Casteneda said. 

   As said before, many at WO, and you know who you are, do not know much about Ukraine, but there is one common element of our knowledge: concern.

   Paying attention to events between Russia and the US is necessary for you at this point. Any actions by either country will shape foreign affairs, and the future of more international conflicts, for years to come. 

   Your future is being decided right in front of your eyes, but we choose to be ignorant or not educate ourselves on the issue at hand. 

   Russian troops and weapons continue to mass at the Ukrainian border, and recently, 3000 US troops were approved to deploy into Eastern Europe to defend NATO allies. The US has stated that the troops will not fight in Ukraine, but their movements push the thermostat over the limit. The heat is rising. 

   War will lead to horrible outcomes that will affect everyone you know. Prospects of nuclear war, which is unlikely due to mutual-assured destruction, are not out of question. More recruiting for the armed forces. A potential draft. Fears of losing your loved ones already enlisted in the military. 

   You need to be worried about Ukraine. The situation will only get worse before it gets better. However, you can educate yourself on what’s happening to better understand the state of affairs. Now is not the time to be ignorant of the circumstances at hand.