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War in Ukraine: Crimes Against Peace

Patrick Patterson | Poland and Ukraine

Anastasia sits on her mothers lap after arriving at the Poland border the first week of March, just a week after the Russian invasion.

The power of a story, or lack there of, can influence how people, government, and the world responds to crises. The coverage of the war crimes committed in Butcha helped expose Russian aggression and crimes against peace, which in turn created a massive global outcry. Now, as Butcha fades in the minds of those who have not been directly impacted by this war, so has the response.

In early March I arrived at the border of Ukraine and Poland to witness the refugee crisis caused by the Russian invasion. I wanted a better understanding as to why the world was having such a response to Ukraine, and not other countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.

Currently there are more than 8 million Ukrainian refugees registered across Europe and more than 5 million displaced within Ukraine. Additionally, an estimated 900,000 Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly removed to Russia. As of December 2022, OHCHR officially reported more than 7,000 civilian deaths, 433 of them children. These numbers are likely much higher since Ukrainian officials report more than 25,000 civilian deaths alone in Mariupol.

As the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion nears, conversations have shifted to missiles and Iranian drones, Leopard tanks, who has control over what territory, and less about torture, murder of innocent civilians, rape, and kidnappings that are happening at the hands of Russian soldiers everyday. When the narrative changes, so does the response.

The power of a story, or lack there of, can influence how people, government, and the world responds to crises. The coverage of the war crimes committed in Butcha helped expose Russian aggression and crimes against peace, which in turn created a massive global outcry. Now, as Butcha fades in the minds of those who have not been directly impacted by this war, so has the response.

I circle back to why I arrived at the Ukrainian border the first week in March. I was seeking something I could not find. How do I compare this crisis to Syria? How do I compare the death of a small child in Ukraine to a child in Syria? As global citizens, how do we build and create an equitable response for all people? For all countries?

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