The Ukraine war has been going on for many months. As a nine year-old, I have many questions about it. This write up has information which I found useful to answer some of my questions, with the help of my parents.
I have understood that like with any other news, an important first step is to refer to the right sources about the war. So you will see many links and references throughout. One of them is the NY Times teaching resources for parents and teachers to explain the war to children by NY times. Click on the picture to access the resources.
Who is fighting the war?
The war is between Russia and Ukraine and it is Europe’s largest war since World War 2.
There is a long sequence of events which led to this and Putin deciding that Ukraine belongs to Russia.
Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union or USSR. The Soviet Union installed communist governments while the west developed into democracies with capitalist economies. In 1949, the Western European countries along with US and Canada formed NATO- North Atlantic Treatise Organization and promised to defend each other from invasion, while the soviet countries formed the Warsaw pact.
The resource above, talks of some some key timelines-
Late 1991- Soviet Union dissolved into 15 independent countries and many countries overthrew their communist governments.
In 1994- Ukraine became a NATO partner
In 1999– Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic joined NATO
In 2004– 7 more countries joined NATO. Belarus, Ukraine and Georgia became the last post-Soviet countries left between Russia and NATO. NATO countries now formed the longest border with Russia than they ever did before.
In 2013- Ukraine reached an agreement with European Union but at the time of signing the deal, Ukraine’s pro-Russian government chose to strengthen ties with Russia and did not sign the deal. Many people in Ukraine protested for months and finally their president was ousted.
In 2021 Nov– Russian troops and military equipment piles up on the Ukraine border
On 24 Feb 2022– Russia launches full scale military attack on Ukraine.
The main demand from Russia is that NATO stop expanding and move its military borders back to where they were in 1997, away from them.
Impact on the world-
I recently read the book ‘Unstoppable Us’ by well known historian Yuval Noah Harari. It is a great book for children to understand how humans evolved over millions of years and now are the ones ruling this planet. Over a period of time, we stopped fighting like animals and became the only species capable of large scale co-operation.
Since 1945, we have not seen a single case of war between powerful countries with nuclear weapons. But looking at the Ukraine war, I feel we are going back to the same ways of in-fighting and wars.
I listened to the historian Yuval talk about how the war affects all of us, not just Ukraine. He mentions in this video that before war started , EU expenditure on defence was 3%, average around the world was 6%. In a few days since the war, Germany doubled its military budget. The money that should be invested in giving better health facilities, education and climate change, is now going towards preparation for war.
If we are afraid of our neighbours attacking us, we will spend money on weapons and army. If we are sure that such attacks won’t happen, countries will spend time, effort and money in providing a better future for us, the children- I am sure the kids in Ukraine or even Russia do not care about wars. They care about going to a school with good teachers and studying well, playing safely in the open with their friends and family and breathing air that is not harmful for their bodies.
How long will it last?
War can always be avoided. Unlike floods, cyclone or drought, war is a human choice.
I don’t know when it will stop but what I know is that it can be stopped now. I don’t know about the past, who is right and who is wrong but I know that our past doesn’t need to affect our present or our future.
How does it affect India ?
In discussing about the impact, we came across this statement by The Economist magazine- “The conflict worsened the growth-inflation mix for India. It pushed up crude prices and caused supply side bottlenecks, increasing prices for regular households in India.”
I understand this to mean that prices of things we regularly consume have gone up because it is costing more to supply them from one place to another, as the fuel prices have gone up. Even if we are not directly impacted by the war, it affects us in many ways, especially those who will find it harder to buy groceries and goods for their families.
Why does it affect me?
I am a child and I know that there are children like me in Ukraine. Children who seek shelter. Children who didn’t want war. Children who make the future. They all are getting affected. Imagine if you are one of them. Your country is being attached to Russia by force. They are attacking you because you refused to join their country.
Right now, we in India are worrying that prices are and can keep rising all around, even in our favourite McDonalds. But children in Ukraine don’t have time to even go to these shops without the fear of getting bombed.
When I watched this young girl singing the popular Frozen 2 song ‘Let It Go’ (it is my younger sister’s favourite!) in a Ukrainian bombshelter, I realized that while this girl may speak a different language, look and dress up differently, but as a child, she has a lot in common with kids across the world.
Living safely in our own house with our parents to protect us and look after us- this is an everyday living condition for so many of us across the world. But for this girl, right now, this itself may be her dream.
I hope all children across the world have a chance to dream of bigger and better things and a basic secure and happy life is a given.