Russian Invasion: My American Heart Bleeds for My Ukrainian Family Edited by C. Andrews


Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been simmering for years, but today they erupted into a raging fire, impacting not just those two nations but also the rest of the globe.

 Do we have to sit back and watch, unsure of what is left to come and unable to do anything to help?


Tensions have been rising for so long that when I woke up this morning, a part of me felt as if it was already over. However, the reality is that this shattering sequence of events may be the end to certain tensions, but it’s the beginning to a world of thunder. 

I don’t know what will happen, but the possible outcomes aren’t looking promising. Are the Russians going to reach my family, my friends? Is NATO going to help Ukraine despite the country’s status as a “highly valued partner” and not a direct ally? My grandparents have to watch as their country, their home, is being invaded. They have to listen as the sound of explosions carries closer. They have to worry about their son, my uncle, who has to go to work despite this chaos because he’s considered “essential” in the government energy sector. Meanwhile, how am I expected to go to school as if today is a typical American school day as if my relatives aren’t fleeing their homes for safety while I’m in class? 

Since the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19, I haven’t been able to visit my relatives in Ukraine. My parents constantly planned trips to Ukraine over the past few years, but they were continuously postponed because of recent events. All the same, we kept trying to find a way to get to Ukraine, fearful that my Great Grandmother may not have much time left since she’s 88 and not in good health. Our family is still hoping that Grandma Valentina’s last memories won’t be the distant sounds of bombing and sirens as Russians attempt to take more and more of her home country’s land. 

Lately, I’ve seen my mother on the phone more and more, texting and calling our relatives in Ukraine. My parents’ concerns grew as the conflict between Ukraine and Russia intensified by the day. I began to fear for my family, reaching out to my great-grandmother, grandparents, and uncle more frequently than before. Still, the worst of it was the sense of not knowing, haunting us as online media would constantly bounce back and forth with their predictions on what was to come. This morning, that feeling was replaced with terror when Putin had officially ordered a full-scale invasion into Ukraine. 

Anti-government protesters jump up and down and sing outside Ukrainian parliament. (Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

On February 22, two days prior to the overnight invasion, Jens Stoltenberg (NATO Chief) reassured the public that NATO was prepared to defend Ukraine. 

 “I think also that we need to realize that Ukraine is a highly valued partner. We support them with military support, with political support, with the cyber defenses, with equipment. Different Allies provide different types of support. But when it comes to NATO Allies, we provide absolute security guarantees. Meaning that we make it absolutely clear that an attack on one Ally will trigger a response from the whole Alliance. One-for-all. All-for-one. And that’s also the reason why NATO has increased its presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, in a defensive manner, to make sure that there is no room for miscalculation about our ability to defend all Allies. And as long as we do that, we will prevent an attack on the NATO-allied countries.”

When asked about holding talks with the Kremlin, Stoltenberg called on Russia “to immediately cease” their military actions, but he said that is not currently an option. The NATO chief also mentioned that the invasion would have “long-term effects” on the Western Alliance’s relationship with Russia. “We don’t have all the answers today. But it will be a new reality… a new Europe,” he said.

Russia, he says, “has shut the door to a political solution. We regret that. But that’s, sadly, the reality, which has severe and very serious consequences for the people of Ukraine, but also actually impacts the security for all of us… that’s the reason why we step up our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.”

You may think that this invasion doesn’t impact or relate to you whatsoever, but as this conflict hurts the world economy that COVID-19 has already weakened, you will be directly affected as well. Is the United States going to take strong action based on this assurance? For the sake of those in Ukraine and the lasting stability around the globe, I sure hope so. After 30 years of post-Cold War silence, peace in Europe was completely shattered this morning, and how we react to this saddening course of events from this moment on will determine not just Ukraine’s future but the future of the entire world.