A year has passed since Putin declared war on Ukraine. Has anything changed?

Natalie Comerford, News Reporter

It has been over a year since what President Volodymr Zelenskyy referred to as Ukraine’s “longest day”: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. 

Since then, the largest conflict in Europe since World War II has lasted far longer than foreign policy experts predicted, and they warn that the war is far from over. 

Senior Andrew Casterella is a politics major who was studying abroad in Germany when the conflict broke out. He believes Russia and Ukraine have reached a stalemate.

“It seems we’ve entered into a stage of just attrition and what might be an endless conflict. [It’s a] conflict that could go on for years,” Casterella said.

The one-year anniversary stalemate marks a sharp contrast between now and the beginning of the war, when many predicted that the country could fall to Russia’s military prowess. Instead, the nation has held strong, rallying behind President Zelenskyy and each other. 

In the West, the war has somewhat faded into the background of the daily news cycle while the conflict itself has continued. Senior Fielding Schaefer explained how the rhetoric around who supported the Ukrainian war has changed under the presence of social media in his Power & Privilege talk titled “Woke Imperium.” 

“When the war broke out, the precise demographic that has social justice profile photos on Facebook, or the signs in their yard that read in this house we believe science is real, black lives matter, no human is illegal … were the ones who began flying Ukrainian flags or put the flag in their bio,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer described the “woke imperium” as a problematic tool the government uses to support endless violence.

“Increasingly in recent years, the U.S. foreign policy establishment is using the identity politics social justice concepts that are popular and palatable … among the liberal and professional classes, very much like the ones that come out of liberal arts colleges,” Schaefer said. “[This is] in order to frame their military ventures, and their imperial agendas, against enemy nations back to the liberal class.”

Senior Cormac Li was studying abroad in Israel and working for the Israeli Parliament at the time. Israel is another example of a country where the public response is different from the government, and Li had a similar experience of seeing Ukrainian flags all over Jerusalem. Li described his experience of the first invasion. 

“It was surreal. When the war broke out, everybody was talking about it. I went to the grocery store, and all of the shelves were empty. You could feel the aftershocks immediately after the invasion,” Li said. 

The Israeli government’s response has been limited to humanitarian aid.

The one-year anniversary of the war has brought it back into the news cycle. The war itself is not improving, but our attention to it has declined over the past year, Casterella explained.

“Across the Western world, western Europe and the United States, it has fallen into the background in a lot of ways. There is still massive violence; it’s a warzone. People sometimes forget that the war is even going on, and it’s a war going on between a superstate, a superpower, and another country,” Casterella said. 

The Russian military’s dominance over Ukraine led many policy experts to believe the war would be over quickly and the country would become a loyal puppet state to Putin. But instead, Ukraine has held strong during the year-long invasion and has reached a stalemate with the world superpower, taking back control of half of the territory they lost. 

Political relations in Europe are massively shifting as the conflict rages on, and the independence of Ukraine hangs in between the enormous political power of the U.S., the EU and Russia.