War in Ukraine: a very sad anniversary
One year after the Russian aggression against Kyiv, uncertainty persists about the outcome of a conflict where nothing suggests the possibility of an early outcome.
The war, or the special military operation as Vladimir Putin calls it, begins on the night of February 24, 2022, at a time when Western countries are still crossing their fingers in the hope that it will not break out. Canada, which considers the threat to be “real and imminent” in view of the thousands of Russian soldiers who have been amassing for weeks on the borders of Ukraine, has already put in place an exit plan for its nationals, before finally encourage them to leave the country, on February 11, 2022.
In the days following the start of the invasion, hundreds of Canadians gathered in Quebec and Ottawa to show their support for the attacked country. At the same time, tens of thousands of Ukrainians are seeking to flee their country. The West is faced with waves of refugees. This marked the start of the largest population exodus since the Second World War. Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, England… Welcoming lands are multiplying here and there.
Some Ukrainians even find refuge here, in Montreal. For the most part, we are talking about women and children, because the men must remain at the front to defend the fatherland. For the majority, we are talking about broken lives that need to be reinvented. The world order is changing. Massacres, lootings, rapes… A look back at the very sad first anniversary of a war that drags on endlessly.
Bye- bye blitzkrieg
While the majority of pundits predicted a clear victory for Russia in just a few days, the capture of the capital of Kyiv has still not materialized. With the conflict dragging on over the months, the consequences of the conflict are quickly felt, particularly in terms of food and energy in Europe.
At the end of March 2022, Canada reacted and decided to meet part of Europe's oil needs by producing an additional 300,000 barrels per day to meet the demand generated by the sanctions imposed on Russia. Although few governments wish to continue to do business officially with Putin, several countries remain dependent on Russian natural gas. The threat of major cuts then hanging over Europe caused a spike in oil prices all over the world and even as far away as Quebec, where, between April and June 2022, the price of a liter of gasoline reached $2.23. in places.
Pressure is also being felt on the price of food. The cost of wheat is rising sharply due to the war and the inability of Ukraine, the world's third-largest exporter, to meet demand. This increase is reflected in the price of basic foodstuffs, such as bread and cereals. So much so that price increases are noticeable every time you checkout at the supermarket.
The return of the massacres in Europe
During the first months of the war, Russia appeared victorious on most fronts. But the idea of quickly seizing the capital Kyiv having very quickly proved illusory, the Russian army redirected its forces to the east, where it made significant territorial gains in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, two “republics” unofficially annexed by Russia later.
However, the Russian conquests very often degenerate into massacres, where the bodies of many inhabitants of several Ukrainian towns and villages end up in mass graves. This is the case for the village of Boutcha, near Kyiv, where the “crime scene” was described as “genocide” by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
It is better to live without electricity and water than with Russian soldiers.
Vitali Klitschki, Mayor of Kyiv since 2014
Resistance and mobilization
After months spent defending their territory against Russian attacks, the Ukrainians rebounded in the summer of 2022. The counter-offensive, which began in August, enabled Ukraine to retake several territories in the east of the country. In response, Vladimir Putin decreed a partial mobilization in September 2022 and recruited 300,000 Russian civilians to send them to fight in Ukraine. Several media, including Euronews, claim that hundreds of Russians have fled to neighboring countries to avoid having to fight.
Meanwhile, Quebec Premier François Legault finds himself on a list of 87 Canadian personalities who can no longer travel to Russia, joining Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in title of persona non grata of President Putin.
Risk of getting bogged down
On November 11, 2022, Remembrance Day in Canada, several politicians from Montreal and Quebec come together to recall the importance of not forgetting the sacrifices made by previous generations. This celebration seems all the more serious and solemn because the conflict in Ukraine continues to get bogged down and the threat of a war that goes beyond its borders weighs more and more. Even Prime Minister François Legault can't help but say out loud what many are quietly thinking: “Unfortunately, when you look at what is happening today in Ukraine, it is difficult not to think about what could happen to us in case of war.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army is struggling with all its might to gradually regain possession of cities, like Kherson, that it had lost to the Russians. Meanwhile, the front lines are stabilizing as winter sets in, making it more difficult for troops and equipment to move.
Tanks and Hope
January 2023, Canada announces the sending of four Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in an attempt to support the Ukrainian David in its deadly battle against the Russian Goliath. A drop in the ocean, perhaps, but it's still four armored vehicles that will add to the powerful modern tanks provided by Ukraine's allies in hopes of turning the tide of history by means of great spring counter-attacks. This sadly portends tough fighting to come over the next few months and an even greater mobilization on the part of Russia in response to the sending of more and more Western military equipment to Ukraine.
< h3>One year… or nine years of war?
In the wake of Ukrainian counter-attacks between August and October 2022, an explosion occurred on October 8, 2022, partially destroying the Kerch bridge, linking Crimea to mainland Russia. Although Ukraine does not claim responsibility for this explosion, Russia's retaliation will be particularly aggressive. This bridge, inaugurated in 2018, is for many the demonstration of the Russian victory after the first conflict between Ukraine and Russia in 2014. Crimea was annexed by Russia after its victory, which explains why this peninsula of the Black Sea is important for both sides in the current war. Since 2014, many Ukrainians believe that the war never really ended, and that the Kerch bridge is concrete proof of the tensions between the two belligerents. It is therefore to be wondered whether this week we are celebrating a year of conflict or rather nine years of war.