30 days of war: Ukrainian resistance against full-scale Russian aggression
On 24 February, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. After 8+ years of occupation of parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions and attempted annexation of Crimea (aggression that had already killed thousands of Ukrainians), Putin’s regime crossed an unthinkable line, moving the Russian army into brutal large-scale warfare, an invasion the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Europe since World War Two.
While credible reports state that the Kremlin expected to defeat Ukraine and occupy key cities in 2-3 days, the Ukrainian Armed Forces, backed by millions of volunteers and the support of the entire 40+ million Ukrainian population, have stopped the aggressors in their tracks. A nation united in its fierce love of freedom, Ukrainians have mounted a resistance that shocked the world.
The war has developed in several key aspects:
- The Russian army was woefully unprepared and poorly equipped to invade a country that would resist. After 30 days of what was supposed to be a “3 day blitzkrieg”, Russia has failed to capture any key cities except one – Kherson. Even there, civil resistance is fierce, efforts to install a puppet government have failed.
- Due to their failure on the ground, Russian occupiers have chosen the most criminal and monstrous form of war: massive artillery and aviation shelling/bombing of peaceful cities. This is an effort to break Ukrainian resistance, destroy infrastructure, demoralize the country and force Ukraine into unfavorable negotiations. But Ukraine stands strong.
- Guerilla and civil resistance from Ukrainian citizens has been incredible: constant fearless rallies (under Russian bullets) protesting against the occupiers and for Ukraine’s freedom. Residents of cities coming out en masse to stop tanks barehand and wave Ukrainian flags in Enerhodar, Kherson, Berdyansk and many others. Territorial Defence units formed from regular citizens.
The numbers show that Russian aggression is fast approaching the scale and character of genocide:
- Russia has made almost 1500 air/artillery strikes against Ukraine. A large number of these have been against residential and civil structures. The State Emergency Service estimates that 3780 buildings were hit by artillery, rocket and mortar fire, as well as bombs. 566 of these are universities, schools and kindergartens.
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates civilian casualties at 2685, but the real numbers are likely much higher by OHCHR’s own admission. Local reports in Mariupol, a city well past the point of horrific humanitarian disaster, estimate 3000 deaths (100-200 per day now), with 80-90% of Mariupol destroyed by Russian shelling. A city of 400,000 residents left with no water, heat, electricity or food supplies – a living hell created by the Russian army.
- 128 children have died in the 30 days of war. 172 have been injured. Russia continues to shell schools, kindergartens and childrens’ hospitals. 4.3 million children were forced to flee their homes – more than half of the country’s 7.5 million children.
- More than 3 million Ukrainians have been forced to leave for European countries due to Russia’s full-scale invasion. 11-12 million have been internally displaced within Ukraine (data from the President’s Office). Reports of forcible deportation of 15,000+ Mariupol residents to Russia also remind us of the inhumane mass deportations of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
Yet Ukraine’s resistance and will to fight for their country remains strong:
- The Russian army has lost more troops in Ukraine in 30 days than in 10 years in Afghanistan. As of March 24, the Armed Forces of Ukraine estimate Russian losses at: 15800 troops, 530 tanks, 1597 armored vehicles, 280 artillery systems, 82 rocket systems, 47 anti-air systems, 101 aircraft, 124 helicopters, 1033 military cars, 4 military boats, 72 fuel tanks, 42 tactical UAVs.
- Mariupol, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Hostomel (Kyiv region), Volnovakha (Donetsk region) are cities holding on to life under Russian missile strikes, in a state of humanitarian disaster, but Russians have failed to conquer them. Battles continue around Kyiv, yet Russian ground troops have been pushed back by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
- Ukrainians are donating staggering amounts to their army and to refugees. Thousands of volunteers have repurposed their lives and work to make sure Ukraine can defend itself. As of 8 March, 10.6 billion UAH were gathered in support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (both from Ukrainian and foreign donations). Donations continue every day. The number of humanitarian relief organizations, volunteer initiatives and local grassroots movements is too numerous to list here.
The world has stood with Ukraine by imposing sanctions against Russia, supplying arms to Ukraine, delivering humanitarian aid, helping Ukrainian refugees and more. However, Russia continues its war crimes and its unspeakable aggression against a sovereign and free European country. The war in Ukraine is not over. It continues to be the front line of defence of civilized values, peace and democracy. The world needs to stand together until Russia stops its inhumane and unlawful aggression.