Berkley Student Opinions On The Ukraine/Russia Conflict

Berkley Student Opinions On The  Ukraine/Russia Conflict

Over the past few weeks, centuries-long tensions between the states of Russia and Ukraine have come to a boiling point. Talk of a possible Russian military invasion of Ukrainian territory has been on the rise in the global news. This possibility causes serious concerns for national security between multiple countries in Eastern Europe who fear a war may be in the near future.
To be clear, as of now, a formal war has not yet been declared by the Russian government against Ukraine. In many instances, world leaders have been concerned with Russian aggression against Ukraine. The “Russian military has moved an estimated 100,000 troops close to the Ukrainian border”, reports the BBC. Before the movement of troops, Russia had launched a string of what is being called “military exercises” on land and at sea near Ukraine. So, what caused this sudden military aggression from the Kremlin (Russia’s parliament)? Some assume that it is a response to all of the diplomatic tensions that currently reside between Russia and NATO. NATO is the North Atlantic Trade Organization; it consists of 30 nations in both North America and Europe. NATO’s intended purpose is to “safeguard the Allies freedom and security by political and military means”, as stated in NATO’s official mission statement. Russia, the U.S., and Ukraine are all part of this alliance as of 1949 following the destructive aftermath of World War II. Currently, the Kremlin is issuing demands that it wants NATO to agree upon such as a ban on Ukraine’s membership in the organization and an end to recent NATO military activity in Eastern Europe. All of these demands from the Kremlin are terms Russia’s government knows the United States (and other NATO members) would not agree upon.
A recent statement from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin also causes concern in political spheres. In a recent statement the Russian president claims Russians and Ukrainians are “one people, a single whole”. Many take this to believe Putin is planning on unifying the Russian and Ukrainian states into one country under military invasion. This could potentially have disastrous effects on global politics and scales of power.
The United States being a democratic country, and an important member of NATO, makes some believe that if Russia did in fact invade Ukraine, the U.S. is likely to provide them with military aid and to push Russian forces out of the nation. What could this mean for diplomatic ties with Russia? No one knows for sure, but many political strategists around the globe are betting that other NATO nations will get pulled into the tensions, making this conflict an ocean away, very close to home.
You may think why should I care? All of this possible action is an ocean away, but possible war between Russia and Ukraine can easily drag the United States into the action.
Being a high school student in suburban Michigan, I wondered if what was going on across the globe was something that I should be spending time thinking about, so I asked a few fellow seniors what their thoughts were on the conflict. Are they concerned about how this could affect their own lives?
I reached out to seniors Maya Maurice and Eden Beckerman’s to get their thoughts about the ongoing conflict in Europe. I asked Maurice and Beckerman if they knew about what is happening between Russia and Ukraine. Beckerman said, “I feel like I know a little about what is going on, but I don’t feel like I know enough”. Maurice stated, “All I know is that Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine, probably because of a conflict that goes back to the Cold War, and Russia has a pretty strong army while Ukraine is a smaller country with a much weaker defense.” I wondered how our geographical location affects how much they are concerned about the war. Beckerman explained, “What’s going on with Ukraine does concern me because something like that can possibly lead to a world war”. Maurice said, “Personally, it doesn’t cause that much concern for me just because I’m so removed from the conflict”. Lastly I asked the students if Russia did declare war on Ukraine, did they think the U.S should provide Ukraine with defense? Beckerman thinks, “That the U.S should provide help to Ukraine”. Maurice believes, “The U.S should probably provide some sort of assistance, even if it’s just supplies or money, because I think we kind of have a responsibility to protect other independent countries because we’re so powerful. I don’t think I know enough about the conflict to have an opinion on whether or not we should send actual men to help out.”
A conflict an ocean away is obviously very hard to gain a grasp of and come to the realization of the ramifications it could cause, especially being as sheltered from global news stories as most high school students are. This lack of exposure to what’s going on in the outside world that is not directly correlated to our everyday lives is, again, difficult to grasp although being aware about conflicts a continent away is still an important piece of knowledge we should all have.