The War in Ukraine Rages On, But the Battle Extends Far Beyond the Front Lines

Since the war began in Ukraine, media coverage has stayed focused on the fighting and the politics. However, one aspect that stays in the dark is the civilian side of the conflict. They are fighting just as hard, and their stories are just as relevant. Both aspects are equally important and should work synonymously with each other to paint a bigger picture.


Maksym Tymchyk/ Unsplash

Throughout all of Ukraine, housing has been decimated by Russian strikes. Even near the capital and far from the fight, many problems still exist for the Ukrainian people.

Cold. Dark. Tired. These are all feelings that the Ukrainian people have become accustomed to since the winter of 2022 rolled around, and the war still burns bright all throughout the country. 

For the Ukrainians, it is life or death; for some of us, it is a grim topic we read or hear about on our daily commute, or sometimes not at all. The Ukrainian war has drifted from the spotlight, becoming an afterthought. “The war is definitely relevant, but I really don’t hear that much about it,” said Thomas Steytler ’25.

Since January 2022, a full-scale invasion of Ukraine has left tens of thousands dead on both sides and millions displaced. Bordering nations such as Poland and Romania are facing a refugee crisis of vast proportions. War has a tendency to completely alter the lives of everyone it touches, and for Ukraine, it has been no different. When the war started, the media put the spotlight on the politics and effects of the conflict, but significantly less information was available about the day-to-day struggles of the Ukrainian people, which is arguably just as important. Even now, Ukraine-related news really only goes viral when it has something to do with international politics.

At the beginning of the war, Putin hoped to quickly steamroll the Ukrainians and take a hefty chunk of land. The plan evidently did not work, and the Russian offensive soon ground to a halt with the Ukrainian government refusing to back down. The incessant violence has since stemmed left the Ukrainian population crushed by the issues that come with having a war on your front doorstep. Food prices are higher, and infrastructure has been severely damaged by the Russian onslaught.

With this humanitarian crisis in Eastern Europe, some Western countries are coming to the rescue. While some of the humanitarian aid goes to the Ukrainian population, most focus is put on maintaining Ukraine’s arsenal at all times, and lots of arms have been sent to the fighters on the front line. Recently, Biden announced a multibillion-dollar package that includes a vast new arsenal for Ukraine. However, these weapons will arrive much too late to hinder a major Russian offensive building in Eastern Ukraine.

Other NATO countries are coming to Ukraine’s aid. Germany has pledged a small collection of state-of-the-art tanks and is planning on sending a large number of older tanks to the front lines. France is also coming to their aid with weaponized and reconnaissance vehicles set to arrive sometime this year. Also, as stated prior, more and more arms are being sent by the U.S., with the exception of fighter jets. 

One consequence of providing this much military aid to Ukraine, regardless of intention, is that it guarantees more fighting and pushes any hopes for peace to the side. This is the reason that no real promises of fighter jets have been made. While this is subject to change in the future as the fight escalates, no fighter jets will be provided by NATO for the time being to avoid perpetuating conflict. 

Even though Ukraine is receiving upgrade-after-upgrade for its military, there has been little change in the arrangement of the frontlines since November of 2022. Both sides have won several inconsequential altercations, but not nearly enough to change the flow of the fight. 

To some, the conflict may seem like it is dying down. However, it may just be that the Russian focus has shifted. The fight still rages on, with a dangerous emphasis on civilians. Seemingly endless barrages on civilian areas and vital infrastructure have left many without power or heat, and the winter is only amplifying the effects of these outages. 

Sadly, some attacks do more damage than just knocking out power or heat. A recent attack on an apartment building in the contested city of Dnipro has left at least 40 dead, some of whom were children. Sadly, attacks like these are not isolated events. 

The prevailing theory is that Vladimir Putin hopes to force the Ukrainians into capitulating by making the conflict too strenuous for the general population. Conditions are hard all throughout the country, which is exactly what the Russians want. The harsh living conditions are becoming a burden on the population.

However, it seems that this burden has the opposite effect. Many civilians want to fight back against the Russians and make them pay for their heinous actions. The Ukrainians have proven resilient thus far, and they show no signs of giving up. The war is still ongoing, and the news is still breaking, so we are yet to see how this new factor contributes to the conflict. 

Each and every day, the Ukrainians demonstrate courage and resilience, with a story surfacing about students doing schoolwork in a bunker during a Russian strike.

While this is a new individual story about a single group of students, it has become commonplace to evacuate schools and continue learning elsewhere, with bunkers and basements being used as alternatives.

Throughout the political and ethical discourse about the war, there remains a missing voice: the Russian population. They live in an authoritarian state, meaning their opinions are heavily controlled. Any dissent has been and will be squashed, and they face severe consequences for disagreeing with the state. From the start, the Russian people were not huge fans of the war, and recent developments have pushed them even more toward an anti-war stance.

Recently, support for a political prisoner infamous for strongly opposing Putin and his regime has ballooned. Aleksei A. Navalny was a Russian opposition leader who fought against the corrupt and oppressive regime. He has been jailed in Russia since early 2021 on a variety of charges, including fraud and violating parole. Since his imprisonment, his health has rapidly deteriorated, leaving him severely ill in a Russian jail. The aforementioned support entails the Russian masses pushing for him to receive medical care or, at the bare minimum, humane treatment.

Even Russian officials have started showing sympathy for Navalny’s cause. Many lawmakers and municipal deputies put together an open letter with a list of requests on Navalny’s behalf. Alongside this, many upper-class Russian citizens have also shown their support for Navalny. A recent petition pleading to the Russian government, requesting Navalny receive proper treatment, received hundreds of signatures from respected Russian doctors. 

To add to the issues, soldiers are also going against direct orders from Russian command. Since the start of the conflict, Russian soldiers have not been the most obedient, but this dissent has only increased as time went on. In the last few months, troops stationed on the front lines have started using cellular devices, a direct violation of rules put in place. A strike on New Year’s Day left eighty-nine Russians dead, and the Russian media blamed that phone usage, citing it as the cause.

However, many Russians have said otherwise. The families related to those killed in the strike have said that the Russian government is putting the blame on the soldiers rather than poor leadership decisions. As this is a matter of Russian internal affairs, all theories are pure speculation and cannot be confirmed.

This conflict is damaging to everyone involved, with many casualties on both sides. A resolution is nowhere in sight, and many attacks on the Ukrainian population are to be expected. Battles are still being fought on both sides, but neither side is making nearly enough progress to start negotiating the terms of an armistice. For now, we will just have to wait and see. 

“The war is definitely relevant, but I really don’t hear that much about it,” said Thomas Steytler ‘25.