Updated: Feb 27
“[Wake up], please don’t be scared, but the war has begun.”
These are the words that Olga, who was just outside Kharkiv, woke up to at 5 a.m. as she heard explosions nearby.
On the morning of Thursday, February 24, Ukraine was awoken by the sound of sirens and artillery. Coming from all north, east and south, Russia has been targeting and engaging dozens of civilian cities and towns. As reported by President Zelensky, 137 were killed on the first day, with hundreds more injured. While many – if they can – are fleeing, all males 18-60 are required to stay and mobilize in defense. Additionally, Ukraine is handing out weaponry to anyone who wishes to take up arms.
“A man will fight for his own home much harder than an invading person that’s not fighting for his own home. “ – Justin Hedges
These are men and women that are fighting for their homeland, their country. The only place many of them know. Following the attacks, these are some of the statements that Russian leader, President Putin, made on the 24th:
“Dear comrades! Your fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers did not fight the Nazis and defend our common Motherland, so that today’s Neo-Nazis can seize power in Ukraine. You took an oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian people, and not to the anti-national junta that plunders Ukraine and abuses its people.
“[A]ll responsibility for possible bloodshed will lay on the conscience of the ruling regime in Ukraine.
“Now a few important, very important words for those who may be tempted to intervene in the ongoing events. Whoever tries to hinder us, or threaten our country or our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to consequences that you have never faced in your history. We are ready for any turn of events. All necessary decisions in this regard have been made. I hope that I will be heard.”
Nearly every national leader has since acknowledged Putin as the aggressor. He has made clear, that his intention is to bring back imperial Russia. It comes as a daring attempt from the President, as this sentiment is bringing in large opposition within his own borders. Anti-war protests have begun in over 40 Russian cities. More than 2,000 of these protesters have now been arrested.
Has Putin underestimated the people of Ukraine?
According to recent polls, 45 percent of Ukrainians were ready to fight with arms to defend their country, and as this violence persists, troops are seeing the effect of these numbers. The Ukrainian defense is doing a great job instilling hope and courage as they press forward in surrendering Russian troops and capturing weaponry. Planes are shot down, Tanks destroyed and brigades stopped.
Daria, in Kyiv, continues to reside in her home,
“I hear explosions and the unknown scares me. But I’m alive and that’s the main thing. I pray for my life and the people on the front line. Hoping for the best.”
“I feel like everything will be fine. I feel it in my heart. I’m just praying for those that are fighting for my safety.”
Outside Kharkiv, an area where some of the more extreme fights broke out on the first day, Olga
takes shelter in a nearby subway.
“I know that bombs have gotten to houses in my neighborhood, so I’m just happy to have gotten to the underground, the anxiety is less.”
This Russian blitzkrieg is reportedly hitting everything they can. This includes a zoo nearby Olga’s place, where they dropped bombs and killed animals.
“So inhumane, so violent. I just can’t express my feelings.”
Though scared, she stays in positive spirits. “It’s okay, we have friends here, we’ve played board games, it’s not that bad.”
While the Western government is pushing whatever sanctions are available to disrupt Russia at an economic level, there are many organizations setting out to support and aid Ukraine in a humanitarian effort. Here is a shortlist if you wish to follow or get involved.
Razom for Ukraine
Razom, which means "together" in Ukrainian, works to source and provide medical supplies.
"The problem right now is a break in the supply chain and the unavailability of some crucial medical supplies," a spokesperson for the organization said. "You can no longer buy medical stuff that is necessary for tactical medicine in Ukraine, and there isn't enough in Ukrainian army supplies.
"Volunteers are ready to deliver these supplies, but they can't procure them," they continued, adding that the organization was trying to source supplies from the US and Europe, including tourniquets and trauma bandages.”
Revived Soldiers Ukraine
Revived Soldiers of Ukraine, a nonprofit organization, provides medical aid and support to ATO Ukrainian soldiers and their families.
United Help Ukraine
United Help Ukraine is a nonprofit group that launched a fundraising campaign in the wake of the Russian invasion. They provide first-aid kits and other emergency medical supplies to the front lines.
"Ukraine is under attack now, we need to prepare to help in any way we can," the organization said. "Please donate, create a fundraiser or simply share the information!"
The Kyiv Independent
An English-language newspaper in Ukraine that has been reporting from the ground throughout the country. Their reporters "[have] been working around the clock to bring you the latest updates," said the publication.
Voices of Children
Voices of Children works to provide "psychological and psychosocial support to children who suffered as a result of war operations," according to the organization.
Army SOS aids the Ukrainian army by helping to fund the purchase of "necessary ammunition, shields, intercommunication and reconnaissance facilities, uniforms and food supply.”
"We deliver all goods directly to the unit's emplacement and pass them right to the hands of our warriors,” the organization says.