Vladimir Putin’s heinous attack on a sovereign nation has ended decades of peace among the nations of Europe and created immense suffering across Ukraine and Russia. His thinly veiled attempt to reconstitute the Soviet Union is destroying two countries by single-handedly devastating the Russian economy and inflicting needless brutality on the Ukrainian people. – Maine Sen. Angus King
If Putin in his invasion of Ukraine envisions himself the shepherd returning a stray sheep to the flock, he has since learned that the lamb is a lion. But while the Ukrainian people have proven their commitment to defending their country – at great and horrible cost – there is global outrage that they have been forced to make that sacrifice. With his “special military operation,” Putin has devastated Ukraine, destabilized Europe, risked his own people and brought about a painful blow to the Russian economy. Then there’s the specter of what may ultimately happen when a nuclear power goes on an unpredictable power trip. Every blast in Kharkiv, Mariupol and Kyiv reverberates around the world.
As of March 18, the United Nations was reporting over 3 million people had fled Ukraine. At least 1.9 million people have been displaced within the country’s borders. Between Feb. 24 and March 19, there were 2,361 civilian casualties recorded by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. That includes 902 people killed and 1,459 injured. The actual number is likely much higher. Residents in cities under siege lack adequate food and water, means to care for the wounded and bury the dead.
In Lviv’s Rynok Square, 109 empty strollers were lined up to represent the children Ukrainian officials say have so far died. Newborns enter the world in basement bomb shelters.
Globally, the crisis is affecting both the energy and wheat markets – driving up prices and imperiling individuals who barely scrape by as it is. Experts worry about an increase in world hunger.
So far in Maine, the impact has largely been headlines and higher prices at the pumps. Residents, however, have been spurred to action watching tragedy unfold thousands of miles away. Two fifth-graders in Blue Hill collected donations outside local businesses. A Tremont teacher gathered stuffed animals. The city of Ellsworth spearheaded a donation drive. The newly formed College of the Atlantic Ukraine Solidarity Group gathered March 2 in a show of support. Planet Pan played a fundraiser in the Blue Hill town park. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King co-sponsored a resolution condemning Russia’s unprovoked attacks.
Collins joined other Republicans in asking the president to work with Poland and NATO to transfer fighter jets and air defense systems to Ukraine. King has cautioned that the U.S. can increase its assistance to Ukraine without inserting itself more directly into the conflict. Creating a no-fly zone over the country could escalate the situation, risking Russian retribution for any planes shot down.
A recent Pew Research poll indicated 42 percent of respondents felt that the U.S. should be providing more support while 32 percent felt that the country is providing about the right amount of help. Half of those surveyed see the Russian invasion as a “major threat” to U.S. interests. Eighty-five percent of people supported maintaining strict economic sanctions.
It is true that this is not our fight, but Americans clearly have found it easy to pick a side.