The Cruelties of War Affect People at Home

Karina+and+Marina+Solomakhina+and+family+members+attend+a+kids+camp+in+Ukraine.

Media by Karina Solomakhina

Karina and Marina Solomakhina and family members attend a kids camp in Ukraine.

While Dr. Sophia Willson was in Ukraine helping family and volunteering at centers for refugees, she saw a little girl standing by her mom in a park in Warsaw, Poland.

The little girl spoke in Ukrainian just like so many of the women and children refugees fleeing from home because of a brutal conflict plaguing their country.

The girl turned to her mother and asked “Where is daddy? Is he at work? When will we be able to go back home to Lotava?”

“Soon, soon,” her mother said. 

But just like so many Ukrainians, she is not entirely sure when they will return home so long as the cruelties of Russian warfare continue.

Dr. Wilson said that she had gone to Poland and Ukraine to help family and visit refugee centers to help out also.

The pair are only two of 2 million refugees, predominantly women and children, who have found safety in Poland and into the arms of volunteers and military personnel at the border. The Ukrainian language can be heard everywhere, said Dr. Sophia Wilson, associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

The people had a hard time leaving the Chernihiv area because the Russian forces purposefully shelled the bridge that was connecting Chernihev to Kiev.”

— Sophia Wilson

These refugees are among the few who were able to leave Ukraine; 42 million people remain in the country. 

“The people had a hard time leaving the Chernihiv area because the Russian forces purposefully shelled the bridge that was connecting Chernihev to Kiev,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson said buses and cars of people leaving Ukraine find themselves targeted by Russian forces as well. But these transportation units are targeted also to prevent humanitarian aid from entering Ukraine.

“Life is unsustainable in many parts of Ukraine right now. The Western sources often cite how many people were killed, how many civilians were killed, but it definitely doesn’t tell the whole story of how many people live in complete horror and terror, living for weeks without food and water,” Dr. Wilson said.

Many people took shelter in basements and are now buried alive in the ruined cities because of Russian bombardment. As of now, Ukrainian operations to save the trapped civilians are impossible because of the constant destruction raining down on these areas, Dr. Wilson said.

“They can hear the people screaming and they can’t help them because they are under the continuous bombardment of Russian forces,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson said the shelling, starving and general terrorizing of civilians is not just a side effect of war, but is the main battle stratedgy Russian forces use, and have been using since the begining of the war.

There are witnesses telling of women being raped in front of their children,and people hiding in the basement when Russian forces get there. They throw explosives in the basement forcing people to get out, and then they shoot them.”

— Sophia Wilson

It was made abundantly clear that civilians were the target, Dr. Wilson said, which is a consistent strategy that they have used in previous wars as well.

“There are witnesses telling of women being raped in front of their children,” Dr. Wilson said, “And people hiding in the basement when Russian forces get there. They throw explosives in the basement forcing people to get out, and then they shoot them.”

The Russians have made attempts to justify the killing of Ukrainian civilians with the idea of De-Ukranization, claiming Ukrainians cannot be trusted, therefore they must be targeted, Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson said the Russian government believed that Ukraine’s government was a threat to it even when it was not a threat at all.

“Ukrainian democracy meant lack of Russian control of Ukraine; Ukrainian democracy meant Ukrainian sovereignty,” Dr. Wilson said.

But in truth, this is just a desire from Russia to control Ukraine.

“Essentially, this is an imperialistic tantrum,” Dr. Wilson said. “Since people in Ukraine do not want to be controlled, the Russian government justifies killing civilians.”

Outside of Russia controlling Ukraine, Russia has not gained much from the territory it has secured.

“Mariuple is destroyed, infrastructure is destroyed, buildings are destroyed. It’s not an occupation because they are willing to starve people to death and destroy an entire city. They’re not saving anybody, nor are they gaining territorial control, it’s just not on the agenda,” Dr. Wilson said. “In many ways, the Nazis did less dammage to Ukraine in their four years.”

However, Ukrainian infrastructure and architecture are not the only things that are in peril as the war rages on.

“They are destroying Ukrainian culture,” Wilson said, “Specifically the churches mosques, and synagogues are targeted, holocaust Memorials are targeted. It’s the destruction of the idea of Ukraine.

Karina Solomakhina, sophomore, is one of many students with family in Ukraine at this time.

Solomakhina said her mom has lived in Odessa, Ukraine, for more than 20 years until they moved to the U.S. Her mom also happened to visit the city of Kiev while she was there before its recent destruction.

“It’s really sad, they just don’t feel anything because they have blown up so many people and hurt them. Even the soldiers go into places and just destroy everything,” Solomakhina said.

Marina Solomakhina, mother of Karina said their family has lots of family in Ukraine, especially cousins in Ukraine at the moment. Too many to name individually.

“They are just trying to find a safer place to wait until the war ends,” Marina said as translated by Karina.

Marina said she has several friends and associates who have gone to Ukraine conflict zones and she has heard what they have said about their travels.

“It’s much worse than what they show on TV,” Marina said. “One person from our church heard a lot of gunshots, there were a lot of people dying, and they just heard everything.”