Ukraine: Christmas Complications


Ah, December. What a wonderful time of year. Holiday cheer is in the air and Christmas songs can be heard around the nation. However, while we in comfy America prepare for another corporate Christmas, Ukraine prepares for invasion. There has been an unusual buildup of Russian troops and military equipment on the Russia-Ukraine border. The Kremlin claims that it is simply for routine military exercises held in that area. Ukraine is an ally of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and because of this, Russia deems Ukraine as a serious military threat. This is highly suspect, as Ukraine does not nearly have the military capacity Russia has.

However, as expected, Ukraine suspects otherwise. There is a real possibility of Russian intervention with the current problem Ukraine has with Separatists. The Separatists want to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, but Ukraine refuses to recognize them as an autonomous people and grant them independence or permission to join Russia. Back in 2014, Russia helped the Separatists seize the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. This was a source of great controversy, but nothing was done by NATO to support Ukraine, besides the typical denouncement of the act and placing of economic sanctions against Russia. It makes one wonder if the same will happen to the rest of Ukraine in the coming years. 

Even civilians can no longer enjoy a peaceful Christmas. To bolster the home front, the Ukrainian government has implemented a pseudo-militia of any able-bodied civilians able to bear arms but unable to fully commit to the military. Any weapons local governments can scrounge up are distributed to militia men and women and they are given basic training on how to use and maintain them. As such, there is severe shortages of ammunition, parts, and most of all, hope. The Ukrainian people proudly declare that they would die for their country, and if it does come to invasion, it will very likely come to that. 

Recently, I have been listening to Soviet and Russian songs composed in the 1970s in Afghanistan and Chechnya to the 1990s, during the fall of the Soviet Union. They speak of young soldiers expecting adventure and glory, but only finding death and shell shock. It is ironic that Ukraine might become another Afghanistan or Chechnya. Not even the mighty Russia could fully subdue her opponents in their respective countries. Even if a nuclear attack was on the table, it would not be possible to nuke every piece of resistance in Ukraine. The Ukrainians will fight tooth and nail to keep their homeland. 

As Catholics, we must pray that both the politicians of Ukraine and Russia love their children more than political and territorial gain. Unfortunately, it is the politicians in power who send the young men to die. There was a saying in the Vietnam War, “Too young to vote but not to die; too young to love, but not to cry.” I pray that the people of Ukraine and Russia do not have to learn this lesson the hard way. If we do not end hostilities now, we may be facing the same gun barrel a few decades later.