Ukraine, Civilian Resistance

Justyna Mielnikiewicz

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a shock to Ukrainians, but not a surprise. They had been at war since 2014, ever since Russian soldiers in green uniforms without insignia annexed Crimea and continued, hiding behind the backs of local separatists in Slovyansk, Krematorsk and then Donetsk. Russia took a territorial bite out of the Donbas and has been festering this regional war ever since, while blaming everything on Ukraine.

The gap between the two countries has been widening ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But for the Russian government, Ukrainian statehood is a false creation. In February 2022, it took action to seize what it thinks is its own.

I was in Dnipro when the war began. By the first morning, a group of local volunteers who in 2014 had played a central role in supporting the first months of the aggression, were back in action – setting up a center to help displaced people and volunteer fighters. Resistance continues nationwide, literally, as the war continues. Local citizens confront Russian tanks with their bare hands in places like Melitopol or Kherson.

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