WASHINGTON, DC – The Russian invasion into Ukraine a year ago today changed the lives of many people, including citizens of Ukraine, foreign supporters and everyone else who supports freedom and democracy.
Since the beginning of war in 2014, which was followed by Russian occupation of eastern regions of Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine has been fighting for its sovereignty.
Back then, being a 10 year old, I did not realize that I wouldn’t be able to visit my favorite seaside city of Yevpatoria in Western Crimea (Western Crime), where I used to spend every summer with my family.
I didn’t know that many of the new kids in my school would be refugees from occupied Donetsk and Luhansk.
I grew up knowing that the war was happening in my country but not realizing how much of an impact it had on the lives of people who were directly affected.
The full scale invasion that the Russian government declared as a special operation on the morning of February 24, 2022 made me and many others realize what the war actually is. Growing up, I heard stories from my dad about his service in Afghanistan, but I could never imagine that this would be possible in my country.
I will never forget how he packed his bag in a rush and went to join Ukraine’s Armed Forces, saying, “I won’t be waiting for them to call me.”
I won’t forget my mom`s words, “The war has started, pack the emergency bag and do not go outside.”
I won’t forget what thousands of Ukrainians went through these past years, but I also can’t forget the bravery of Ukrainian soldiers who choose to protect the country, paying the ultimate price with their lives.
The international community has been supporting Ukraine, providing shelters for refugees, medical equipment and military weapons from all over the world.
Ukrainians greatly appreciate it, and will never forget the generosity of people who helped us.
From what I heard speaking to soldiers, they are always especially grateful to the United States for taking Ukraine`s side and supporting our government.
But it is very noticeable that by the end of the year, people – as well as the media – talk less about the war as it became a part of normality.
It is necessary to remember that hundreds of people die in Ukraine every day. There are no accurate numbers, as we do not have access to the occupied territories where our soldiers are currently fighting the hardest battles.
The world must speak and help Ukraine, because our victory is a victory of everyone who supports freedom. Our soldiers need more ammunition and equipment to stop the bloodshed.
For me the past year was full of fear, rush, pride, and development.
As I experienced living through the worst fears of probably every person I’ve met, it gave me an opportunity to focus on my future.
When I received a full scholarship to attend Georgetown University, I had mixed feelings about leaving my country in the middle of war and pursuing my dream education.
But I know that it is better for me and my family to focus on what I can do with this education in the future. That is my motivation to study international politics with a concentration in security studies.
This year I am also taking a few military strategy and war studies classes and plan to intern with the Ukrainian government in the summer.
I want to help my country regain its territory back and begin rebuilding a new, stronger Ukraine.
Tanya Tkachenko is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.