The Bloodshed for Democracy: A Letter to Russia and Ukraine From an Outsider

Angelina Astic, Contents/Copy Editor

Just over a month ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin commanded members of his armed forces to invade Ukraine, wreaking havoc across the nation with ramifications felt across the globe. As tensions rise, innocent lives are lost all due to one man’s greed and egregious cruelty. Women and children are forced to flee, their futures unknown. Men, old and young — some as young as I — are taking up arms, bravely defending their country against all evil. When asked the question, ‘Why fight?’, the answer is clear. The people of Ukraine are not only fighting for their own democracy, they are defending the right to democracy across the world. 

While today’s world consists of various systems of governing, the principle of democracy and the freedoms it entails is at the forefront and is a system that many yearn for, but are never able to experience. In Ukraine, a sovereign nation separate from the country of Russia, citizens young and old, male and female, rich and poor have banded together, pitching in however they can to fight the common evil that is Russia. 

Women, some pregnant and some accompanied by their children, are fleeing out of Ukraine to neighboring nations in which they can receive refugee status and begin new lives. The only issue with this is the foundations, roots and family members they leave behind. 

Many who have left the nation, without the necessary funds, materials, resources and accommodations, have been forced to navigate a whole new world — starting from the bottom. This has made way for the most significant humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. 

Across the world, specifically within the NATO alliance, nations have agreed to accept a set number of Ukrainian refugees. As of late, the U.S. has agreed to accept 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, which is exponentially more than the 11,411 refugees the U.S. took in the previous year. Other nations have also opened their doors and as more and more individuals exit the country, this leaves an opening for commentators to question, judge and even harass the Ukrainian people. 

When pundits question why President Zelenskyy addresses Congress in a plain tee rather than formal dress wear, let this be known: defenders of a nation, in a race to save the privilege that is democracy, do not have time to worry about the frivolous things in life. In fact, Zelenskyy’s sporting of simple cloth represents his closeness to his people; in this moment at this time, Ukrainians are united, one and the same. 

Typing away on my laptop, I live in a world where unfettered access to various news sources, whether it be biased or unbiased, thrives. The Supreme Court Case New York Times Co. v. U.S. known informally as the ‘Pentagon Papers,’ established a precedent in the U.S. where the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, specifically the free press, remains protected and guaranteed. Speech is essential to life as it is the very essence of everything one does, is or contributes to. While every day I have the opportunity to live in a world that champions my voice, my words and my efforts, there are many who do not. 

In essence, war affects everyone. To rephrase, war affects everyone directly. Whether it be familial or fiscal, a war fought on the principle of democracy changes everything. Those who champion democracy stand alongside Ukraine in this battle. Those who do not stand with Ukraine have made their position clear – not only do they stand with Russia, they stand against humanity.