Ukraine: Closer Than We Think

By Fiona O'Reilly

Most teenagers are not the best at staying updated regarding world news. Understandably, we have hours of studying, sports and our own personal interests. It is very easy to not feel the extremities from the other side of the world. However, it has been just over a month since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and it seems like the whole world is facing the effects, even students at New Hyde Park. As a typical New Hyde Park Model UN kid, I not only find world news intriguing, but I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to stay educated and informed about the world we inhabit. Though Kyiv is just over 4,500 miles and 7 time zones ahead of New York, the stories of the horrors happening in Ukraine should not slip the minds of people in New Hyde Park. We should not dissociate ourselves from the lives of others, simply because it is not our current reality.

Throughout the past month, it has become more and more evident how history seems to repeat itself, despite new diplomatic policies and treaties being put in place. The Ukraine and Russia crisis seems to be an inevitable attempt for Russia to rebuild the Soviet Union. As commonly discussed in Mr. Laugen’s 6th period AP World History class, the tensions between the East and the West go back for decades, specifically since the Cold War. As we learn about conflicts such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Korean War, it is highlighted how, regardless of differing economic and political systems, the strife between the East and the West that led to a 45-year period of Cold War is still prevalent today. Post-fall of the Soviet Union, many of Russia’s old territories, Ukraine being one of them, became their own independent nations, and with the help of US influence, democracy was on the rise. As the West grew more closely aligned in their democratic states, NATO grew in their influence and power, creeping up on Russia’s borders and causing Russia to fear exclusion from the political world stage. Over the past 30 years, it has been difficult to ignore the United State’s super-power political affiliation, and that the tensions that once existed during the Cold War have only been reignited, this time with less world attention. This repeating pattern of “West vs. East” leaves people today with many questions: To what extremes will Putin go if he does take full control of Ukraine? Is the world at threat for WWIII, and will this war be nuclear?

Artwork by Debarati Chowdhury

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has severly hurt the sanctity of the nation and its people.

Though trying to see this issue from a neutral perspective and base my stance on this topic as unbiased as possible, I am extremely opinionated in my complete sympathy and support for the people and state of Ukraine. It is undeniable that as Americans, we do not face the threats or fears of being invaded by foreign superpowers due to the United State’s political and military prevalence on the global scale. However, for the people of Ukraine, this is a common fear that has become all too real in recent months. Ukraine’s tug-of-war between joining NATO and staying on Russia’s “good-side” has been a topic of contention in recent years, which has ultimately led to the current crisis at hand. Again, reiterating my goals of seeing this issue as unbiased as possible, I can try to understand the threat Russia might feel from Western dominance, but I do not think it is the reason for invasion of a small, much weaker neighboring nation that currently poses little threat.

As far as the questions and uncertainty regarding a possible nuclear WWIII, I highly doubt that this crisis will spiral into a nuclear war. The world experienced the effects of nuclear war in the 1940s during and after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and as a result, mutually assured destruction had been established, stating that the use of a nuclear weapon by any party will result in the destruction of all parties. This reason alone is what derailed nuclear violence during the Cold War, which I believe will do the same during this current crisis.

Overall, the current issue in Ukraine is something that everyone should be aware of, as education is the only way to break the pattern of repeating history. Though we often get caught up in our every: day lives, bigger problems exist on the other side of the world that aren’t as far away as we assume.