The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Extends its Influence Into Charter’s Own Borders


Graphic by Megan Ingram

Daniel Morrison, Staff Writer

   On February 24th, Jags witnessed events thought to be solely confined to their decorated international history notebooks or their thick, 1000-page world history textbooks. An aggressive Russia launched an attack on Ukraine that already has and will continue to devastate the Ukrainian people. However, the conflict’s influence spreads further, concerning those across Europe, us in the United States, and the people galvanized online, speaking out and assisting Ukraine in any way possible. 

   Since the 24th, Russian troops have advanced into Ukraine and pointed their rifles at Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Sophomore Dennis Podiapolski, a Russian student here at charter, worries about the future of his family and friends in Ukraine and Russia. “Basically all my family and relatives apart from my parents are currently in Russia,” he says indignantly. “They are pretty much trapped there since they can’t obtain visas.” As of March 11th, more than 100,000 Russians have fled abroad, with more expected to make a move in the coming weeks. (BBC)

   This seemingly swift Russian invasion of Ukraine comes after a long history between the two. Ukraine—flanked by Russia to the east and northeast—acts as a buffer between the U.S. and Russia; the U.S (and Europe) see it as a place to hold their influence in Eastern Europe, while Russia views it as a strategic location to first capture and then use to fulfill its intentions in the rest of Europe. (NYT)

   But the immediate cause of attack is Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent shift away from Russian influence to a more Western one. Ukraine, like most former Soviet nations, seeks to join the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliances, but Russia will not allow it. Instead, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, demands Ukraine to amend its constitution so that it promises not to join NATO or the EU; in other words,  Putin wants to end any further Western influence in Eastern Europe and enhance his own, believing Ukraine is a viable option to do so. (BBC)

   Under the roaring skies of bombs and missiles, another 2.6 million Ukrainians have left their country for refuge. “I also have close family friends in Ukraine and friends here in the U.S. who have family there,” a disheartened Dennis elaborates. “I pray for their safety.” 

   Along with cities, Russian forces have targeted childrens’ and maternity hospitals, something President Zelensky deems as a “war crime”. Atrocities like these only heighten the number of refugees desperate to escape. Fortunately, neighboring European countries have been trying their hardest to offer refuge to these people. 

   Though many miles away from the site of battle, Jags are feeling some far-reaching effects. Through economic sanctions (financial penalties applied to a country to weaken their economy) imposed to deter further aggression by Russia, Americans have seen a rise in gas prices. With a global decline in gas supply, the prices have inevitably increased. As of March 13th, 2022, Florida gas prices have hit an average of $4.39 a gallon, a significant jump from last year’s $2.86 a gallon price tag (AAA Gas Prices). “I have had to cut down on spending money on school events or anything else I might like because of the rising gas prices,” Milagros Ortega stresses, a licensed Jag. However the sophomore believes it is a necessary sacrifice: “But, helping innocent Ukrainians fighting for their homeland by limiting Russia’s economy is much more important than spending $10-30 more on gas.” Amidst these effects of war, students question what is being done to help Ukraine. 

   Unfortunately, direct intervention—in this case the deployment of combat troops—by NATO (which the U.S. is a part of) or the EU is restricted since Ukraine isn’t part of any of the alliances. However, both alliances have provided weapons and other equipment to Ukraine, and both plan to tighten their sanctions imposed on Russia. (BBC)

   On the other hand, indirect intervention by the means of the internet and social media have emphasized that Ukraine is not alone in this fight. Humanitarian aid groups are accepting donations that assist the people of Ukraine, principally its refugees. 

   The Political Youth Club “has been focusing on posting informative posts on our Instagram story,” sophomore Janessa Montilla, a participant of the club, says. “We really want to make sure that students are up to date with everything going on.” Janessa encourages students to reach out to the club through Instagram if they have any questions regarding the dire situation in Ukraine.  

   Mrs. Kolby Rudd, charter’s very own AICE International History teacher, explains why history is so essential. “When we study wars of the past in history classes, there’s a focus on the human suffering and the sacrifices made by all citizens, and these are very evident already in Ukraine…and really, that’s a big part of why history curriculum exists—to prevent the tragedies and mistakes of the past.” 

   Mrs. Rudd remains hopeful for the people of Ukraine. “My heart is broken for the Ukrainian people who have done nothing to provoke the terrifying attack by Russia. I have been surprised and inspired by the Ukrainian resistance, and I’m cheering them on loudly from far away,” she advocates.

   Jags, too, are doing the same.