Opinion: History Teachers at EHS React to the War in Ukraine

“The civilians of Russia are not on the same page as Putin.”


Owen Custer

A student in social studies class looks up information on the war in Ukraine. Following international news is often hard for high school students.

Diamond Queensley Yebowaah Essel, Staff Writer

More and more Russians have been fleeing their country in an attempt to withhold being drafted into the army. Getting an accurate number of individuals and their families who have fled from their mother country has proved to be rather difficult, however, analysts estimate the number to be hundreds of thousands. What could Vladimir Putin have done to have his entire population against him? President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization in September 2021. This proposal pressed a possible drafting of eligible Russian men into the army to increase forces for the war against Ukraine.


Origins of the war

The war between Ukraine and Russia started in February 2022. Even before that, the Russian government had been positioning tanks on the border between the two countries. The relations between Russia and Ukraine date back to when Ukraine was considered part of Russia during Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible of 1500. Ukraine had always been under the rule of Russia and the Soviet Union as far back as Catherine The Great in 1793. During the Cold War years, Ukraine advocated for its statehood and finally gained it after the fall of communism in the early 1990s. Ukraine declared its independence after 70 years of totalitarian rule, having suffered a civil war in the Bolshevik revolution, famine in the 1930s, the brutal Nazi occupation, the holocaust of the Second World War, and political purges and stagnation in more recent decades. Before independence in 1991, Ukraine was the second most important member behind Russia and Kyiv the second most important city behind Moscow. As a result, the people of Russia do not recognize the independence of Ukraine; many believe Ukraine is still a part of Russia. Putin wants the land back from Ukraine in hopes of establishing the Soviet Union Territory it once had and also giving Russia access to the seaports using the black sea which connects to the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey. 


World history teacher Kyle Brink has been following the war, “Knowing Russia and knowing Putin’s attitude and leadership, he will not stop until he gets what he wants without really caring about the death toll that follows in the wake of this disastrous war against Ukraine.”


The resolve of the Ukrainians

Ukraine citizens have not backed out of the war. To think Ukraine has been able to hold up against a country that is 2,733-percent larger than itself and has more than twice her population is impressive to the rest of the world. The conviction of the Ukrainians is what is holding them together. Ukraine is a prime example of how war is not just about the equipment and the nooks, but rather the common beliefs shared by the people. Ukrainians do not want to give up on themselves, hence their rigorous determination to win the war. Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been going on for eight months now and Ukraine continues to defend itself as a Nation. This just reiterates the point of what a proud, resilient, and determined nation Ukraine is.


“The other thing I learned from my experience in Ukraine in 2016 was that the Ukrainian people are some of the most generous people I have ever met. Even though most people still remember and lived through the days of communist rule and socialism with very little in terms of property and wealth. They were willing to give so much in terms of gifts and memorabilia as they were so excited to have and host people from around the world so everyone can see the beauty of Ukraine,” said American History teacher Christopher Kavinsky.


Financial Aid

This is where the topic of support for Ukraine becomes difficult. Obviously, the United States wants to promote and support Ukraine as a democratic nation. The challenge is that Ukraine is not considered a NATO nation which limits the US and the rest of Europe’s capabilities to support Ukraine in terms of war since it is not a true allied nation. This is also a reason for the conflict. Ukraine continues to grow closer and closer to Western Europe in economic philosophy. Ukraine has expressed interest in joining the European Union as well as NATO. This desire to distance itself further and further from Russia and their ideals has increased the tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Since Ukraine is not a NATO Nation, the United States can not go to war against Russia regarding troops fighting the war. However, the United States can supply Ukraine’s war effort with weapons as well as financial resources. 18.2 billion has already been provided to the efforts in Ukraine from the US. Anytime the United States is giving billions of dollars to other nations it is going to receive criticism. Americans were willing to help Ukraine at the very beginning of the war. However, as the war prolongs there could be more and more people starting to question how much money the USA should be directing towards Ukraine. Especially if we continue to see economic challenges and issues here in the United States that could be focused on. 


“Ukraine is not part of NATO, so directly arming them might escalate the war with Russia. So the best we can do is to continue to help arm NATO countries surrounding Ukraine and then the aid can filter to those that need it. Ukraine needs so much help that it’s hard right now to designate where the money goes. Right now the number one goal is the defense of Ukraine’s land,” said Matthew Bednorz who teaches World History.


Elon Musk and the War

Many oligarchs in Russia control many of the big systems, like oil and gas from Siberia, the steel industry, and banking that are billionaires. These oligarchs hold a lot of power in Russia and to some extent, the wealth of Elon Musk has enabled him to act in some similar manners as those in Russia. Musk has stated that Ukraine should accept a peace treaty and give up all the land that the Russians have taken. This statement earned him praise from Russian and Chinese officials and criticism from the Ukrainians. This appeasement, similar to the appeasement that took place in Germany before WWII, will only embolden Putin who would eventually just come back for more and try to take all of Ukraine eventually. 


Kyle Brink, who also teachers AP World said he would support Musk, “If Musk believes that Russia and Ukraine should handle this on their own, I am in the boat with him. This war should not involve the US until something has harmed the United States. Our resources and weaponry should not constantly be sent overseas for the possibility of then falling into the wrong hands of our enemies abroad.”


Awareness About the War

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine is not being talked about enough. The fact Russia has not captured Ukraine with this “all-powerful” military seems to be missed a lot. The economics of the war is not talked about a lot either. The fact that Russia is still transitioning from a command economy to a mixed economy is slowing down innovation and privatization. With the lack of innovation, Russia’s military is stuck decades behind the innovation of the US Military. Even though they do possess the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, it’s the ground forces letting down the Russian Military.


“The media, especially in pro-democracy nations, are going to continue to talk about the fight for democracy. However, with that, I think there is a lot that is not mentioned here in the United States thousands of miles away from the region. One is the passion and desire of the Ukrainian citizens to be an independent nation. This is a country that has always been looked down on by the Soviet Union/Russia and had to continue to deal with political corruption from Russia. The thing I think that is most significant and what people should continue to pay attention to is the fact that Ukraine and its people are still holding Russia off,” Kavinsky said.