LM looks to Ukraine

LM feels the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as students and teachers get informed and take action to help.

On February 24, Russia officially invaded Ukraine, inciting the largest war in Europe since World War II. To address the large amount of Ukrainian refugees that have been left in need of supplies, many students from the High School Democrats of America (HSDA), LM Amnesty International, and teacher Thomas Reed’s Global Citizenship class joined together to run a supply drive. According to Reed, “I don’t understand how we could sit back and watch. This is an invasion of a sovereign nation where war crimes and genocide are taking place….Get off of the damn couch and do something.” Noah Barkan ’24, one of the main people organizing the drive added that “The goal was to help initiate action and catalyze further action towards providing aid and support to Ukraine from the LM community.” He believes that this is important “because we are interconnected individuals in a globalized world and the struggles of people across the world affect us all.”

The fear of another Russian annexation of their homeland has caused Ukranians to take up arms and fight back against Russia, much harder than Putin seems to have expected. Among other actions taken by Western nations, sanctions have been placed on many Russian banks and oligarchs. The Russian ruble has fallen almost fifty percent in value since sanctions were first placed on Russia. Additionally, this war is the first in history to contain a cyber theater, which is when governments launch coordinated attacks aimed to terrorize and misinform civilians through the spreading of disinformation and the taking down of government websites. While the crisis has also led to numerous Russian protests, Putin’s regime has cracked down on dissent. Ukraine is not the only country that Russia had plans to invade. Recently, numerous blunders have culminated in a Russian general announcing plans to move large amounts of soldiers into Moldova as well.

Russia’s economy being isolated has had a ripple effect across the globe. Russia’s main export was cheap gas and oil. Thus, the price of gas has spiked—evident even here in Ardmore. LM students will see the price of everything go up. The cost of gasoline has already risen almost ten percent since the war began. Teacher Scott Seibert says, “For me personally, the cost of filling
up my truck with gas has increased by $70. Over the course of a month, this accounts for nearly a $300 increase in my expenses. Teachers like many Americans are employed on a fixed wage and these unexpected increases can dramatically affect a household budget.” He continues, “My financial pain at the pump is real but the human pain in war-torn Ukraine is devastating. It is past time for the US to once again remove the barriers to domestic oil and gas production in order to alleviate our dependence on foreign energy.”

LM’s geographical removal from the violence does not stop families from being personally affected or concerned. Ivan Sanchez ’24, whose uncle’s wife and daughter are still stuck in Belarus, a nation that is increasingly seen as part of Russia’s new Iron Curtain, thinks that people in LM should accept that the sanctions are necessary. He says that while many in the United States may have some economic pain, it is nothing compared to the heartbreak experienced by Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian citizens. He elaborated, “The people of Belarus and Russia do not want to fight Ukraine and are being forced to suffer. Sanctions won’t be the be all and end all but they are the best we can do right now without a world war.” Additionally, he believes that ordinary people should try to get involved. One way this could be done is through drives such as those led by HSDA or Amnesty International. However, Sanchez makes sure to say that “helping doesn’t necessarily mean donations. It means getting informed and talking about the issues. This will help others and yourself to better understand the problem.”

Over the course of three school days, student volunteers work to pack
collected items into a truck to send to Ukrainian refugees. | Photo courtesy of Sean Capkin

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