Ukraine is the second largest European country after Russia. It is located in Eastern Europe on the Dnieper River, which divides the country in half. The majority of the population is ethnic Slav, but there are also a small Romanian, Hungarian and Polish minority.
Ukrainians have long sought independence. In 1991, the country gained independence from the Soviet Union. Since then, the country has been seeking closer ties with Western institutions, and has begun to align itself with the EU. But the relationship has faltered as the country continues to face an ongoing conflict with Russia.
A large number of people have been displaced from their homes, with the number of refugees at its highest levels in three years. Most of the displaced have been women and children. Some have fled into neighboring Poland and Moldova, but more are being displaced within Ukraine.
The conflict between the Ukraine and Russia has resulted in the worst displacement crisis in Europe in nearly three decades. 6.5 million people have been internally displaced. This includes women and children who are at particularly high risk in buildings that lack water and electricity. These are also vulnerable to violence and other hazards. As the war continues, the situation is likely to worsen.
As the conflict reaches its height, millions of people are facing grave dangers. People of all nationalities are at risk, and the European states must quickly ramp up preparations to provide a humane and safe response. They must also allow access to emergency services for those in need.
In August, the Ukrainian government launched a major counteroffensive against Russian forces in the eastern part of the country. This move was a stunning setback for Russia. By the end of the month, Ukrainians had reclaimed thousands of square miles of territory in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions. However, more than 3,000 people have been killed in fighting.
More than a dozen European nations have imposed extrajudicial sanctions on Russian officials. One of those sanctions is on parliamentarian Taras Kozak, who has owned three television channels. He was stripped of his broadcasting license and was targeted for “personal sanctions.”
Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend its territorial integrity. Russia has also demanded that the United States and NATO withdraw from European nations, and stop expanding their military operations. Putin argued that his invasion was a rescue operation. Despite his claims, the European Union has continued to demand that Russia unconditionally withdraw from the country.
Ukraine’s health care system has been devastated. Women are increasingly unable to access emergency medical care and social services, and children are being born without basic health care. Many hospitals and other facilities are damaged or have been shut down, putting the health of the population at great risk.
As the crisis continues, the European Union and Russia must work together to ensure that all affected people are protected and have access to the assistance they need. In particular, European states must offer protection and welcome refugees from Ukraine.