By Olga Dubanyevich
Early morning of February 24, 2022. Millions of people across many regions of Ukraine woke up to the sounds of the bombardment by Russian aircraft and missiles. That was no nightmare, but a reality. Hard to believe that all this was happening in the 21st century, in the heart and centre of contemporary Europe.
The global community should consider that worldwide safety and security are in jeopardy, not just for Ukraine and the Ukrainians. Europe and the entire world cannot ignore such a brutal violation of human rights, rule of law, and the basic principles of peaceful international cohabitation from a country possessing nuclear weapons. History has showcased repeatedly that the dictatorship ambitions of a single leader or nation might attempt to subdue one country, but also challenge the safety of the entire global ecosystem. Nuclear weapons, bombs and bullets do not differentiate between nationalities, races, counties, genders and other demographics. Children across the globe have a birthright to grow up under a peaceful sky. People should fulfill their life’s potential, work for the prosperity of their families and countries, instead of fight over political ambitions that destroy lives and wreak fear and devastation.
Ukrainians are courageously defending not only the future of their children, the safety of their loved ones, the land where they grew up and live in, but also the future of humanity. A great example of courage and heroism is seen in the defenders of Snake Island, who, despite a withdrawal order from the superior enemy force, preferred not to give up and sacrificed their lives to protect this Island, which is only 17 hectares in size. The same can be said about the sailor who blew up the bridge with himself to stop the advance of the enemy’s army.
Ukrainians did not panic but stayed united together in this crisis. Volunteers are organizing blood donations, supply of food, water and warm clothes to the bomb shelters. People are trying to take care of their pets and are bringing them to the underground subway stations and other places of shelter. People launched a website where you can place an offer to provide shelter or make an inquiry for a safe place or sanctuary.
One of the tools or tactics Russia used in order to crate panic and destabilize the country was its spread of fake information and constant propaganda on official TV channels and funneling into the internet and technology / social media platforms. This underlines the importance and necessity to always fact-check information and subscribe to only trusted sources. Besides, a common database was created in order to exchange information about the movement of military equipment and suspicious people with questionable motives to further destabilize the country. The population can now access the data Ukraine is collecting and adding to its database, which represents a glow in the dark and is used as a guidepost for aviation strategy. Another important aspect is the security of personal information, correspondence, and databases related to the activity of the Ukrainian Army. Volunteers were trying to detect and avoid the leak of any sensitive information.
What can be done to help Ukraine and stop an escalation? The answer is sanctions, sanctions, sanctions! One of the steps that should be taken immediately is turning off Russia from the banking system SWIFT. The sky over Ukraine should also be temporarily closed for all flights in order to stop any further attacks by air. Military aggression could be stopped by providing such drastic financial consequences. And in the long run, Russia and other dictatorships should be expelled from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which should become an association of democratic and market economy countries that trade peacefully and within the rule of law. The open phone lines for Russians whose relatives are in Russian army sent by their army officers to Ukraine are : +380894201860,+380894201861, and +380894201862. People can call these numbers and help their Russian relatives in Russian army to come back to Russia.
Despite the grim hardships in the war environment, people don’t lose their kindness and optimism. In the subway a little baby girl was born, and a soldier proposed to his girlfriend, and that means that life’s everyday joys continue to offer hope to citizens for a better, kinder future.
If you want to donate to a trusted organization, consider donating to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, to the NGO Come Back Alive (a Kyiv based NGO that fundraises for Ukraine’s military to ensure soldiers and volunteers have enough supplies to fight back against Russia), Ukrainian Armed Forces and also read about the Government of Canada’s initiatives to support Ukraine here.
Olga Dubanyavich, CAIP, hails from Denepropetrovsk, in Ukraine, holds a Master’s Degree in Law, and currently works for Sweatman Law Firm in Toronto, Canada.