Today, Thursday morning 24 February, Russia invaded its neighbour Ukraine. Civilians have seen and heard explosions on the country's eastern flank as well as in various cities. On Twitter Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, called it a full-scale invasion. Targets included Kyiv's airport and various major buildings. According to reporters on the ground, Kyiv itself is in chaos. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called on Russians to keep the peace following the invasion by Russian troops.
The attack comes after weeks of increasingly ominous portents of war. The mood among civilians is one of extreme anxiety. Svitlana, for instance, who has worked with PAX for years, says: "From now on, instead of saying on my resume that I can cope with stress, all I need to do is say that I'm Ukrainian ". Yet the reality of war is serious as it has in effect been going for eight years. PAX has been active in Ukraine since 2014, organising peace projects together with partner organisations. Read more about the Peace Engineers project.
New phase in the conflict
The conflict has now entered a new phase, manifesting itself in various ways. There is the political aspect, with Vladimir Putin having accorded recognition to the so-called People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in the speech he gave last Monday. But there is now also a military element, given the entry of Russian tanks into internationally recognised Ukrainian territory. For the past eight years, Russian troops have maintained a clandestine presence. Now, however, they are moving around openly and freely. The level of aggression has recently also been notched up by the dissemination of information.
In his speech President Putin made no bones about calling Ukraine an integral part of Russia. He manipulated history and geopolitics, twisting facts and continually using all kinds of pretexts to justify his own actions. He actually went so far as to call the invasion of Ukrainian territory a 'peace mission'.
The truth does not lie in the middle
It is often said that the truth lies in the middle. However, that is not the case in this instance. Ukraine is a country under attack. The main reason for it seems to be its very existence and the fact that it wants to evolve as a democratic state. Russia has been actively spreading misinformation for years, which is proving to be a powerful weapon in this war. As President Zelensky pointed out in his speech to the Russian people: "Ukraine in your news reports and Ukraine in reality are two very different countries. And the biggest difference is that ours actually exists."
What can you do?
PAX has previously said that the safety of Ukrainian citizens is paramount and that their voices must be heard. So what can you do? If you want to take action, we have some tips:
- do you happen to know people in Ukraine? Keep in touch, let them know you are thinking about them, that you support them. You can do this personally or through social media. Or if you don't have any personal acquaintances in Ukraine but you would nevertheless like to do something, then over the next weeks we'll be putting you in touch with Ukrainians who are partners and acquaintances of PAX. People who, in spite of all the odds, continue to work for peace.