Continued Bloodshed Marks the 3rd Year of the Russian War on Ukraine

Foreign Policy Brief #133 | By: Yelena Korshunov | March 29, 2024
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“We were sitting in the kitchen when we heard a loud explosion. It was very close,”- my mom said to me on the phone. Today is March 15th, she is in Odessa, a beautiful city on the Ukrainian Black Sea shore. She is not willing to leave her homeland to become a refugee at 86. Since February 24, 2022, my days start with news from Ukraine and especially from my hometown. On the morning of March 2nd at 6:00 am the news was sad and tense, “Russian missile hit the residential building at night. 10 people were killed, 4 kids among them.” 7:30am: “ 13 people killed, 5 kids among them. A family of three – all killed. Rescue work continues. There may still be people under the rubble.” And later that day the photos. Pictures of happy smiling families, laughing children, big-eyed babies. They all were killed by “Russian peace”  that night.

Today, March 15th, I called my Odessa friends, “Are you safe? Everybody’s alive?” “I am. It’s a nightmare, people are laying on the streets,” my school friend in Odessa said. At the time I called her, all these people were still laying in puddles of their blood, still warm. Minutes ago they were alive rushing to work, school, and shopping. They had plans for that day. Had dreams. Loved. None of them will ever love again, kiss their children, pet their pets. They will never see a blossom that is coming so soon with this beautiful Spring.

21 killed, more than 70 injured in the morning of March 15th. That was only the first strike, and right after, when nearby residents and first responders arrived in a rush to help the wounded, another drone targeted a crowd of rescuers. I remember this terrorist’s strategy of a delayed attack very well from the time I lived in Jerusalem. They had activated an explosive device on Ben Yehuda street in the heart of the city. A lot of people were killed and injured. When ambulances arrived there was a car blocking their way to the attacked street. When people rushed to the car to move it making a pass for the ambulance, it was exploded by a bomb stuffed with nails causing even more deaths, wounds, and torn off bodies of those who tried to save the others’ lives.

Recently the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he held military meetings to identify Russia’s “most vulnerable spots” where Ukrainian forces could cause the “most damage.” “The more the Russian state loses and the greater the price of its aggression, the closer the end to this war will be,” he said. According to Forbes, since the beginning of 2024, there have been 11 Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian enterprises related to the oil industry– mainly oil refining. On March 12, fires due to drone strikes occurred at oil depots in the Nizhny Novgorod and Oryol regions in Russia. The Nizhny Novgorod Oil Refinery, one of the largest in Russia, had to shut down its unit. On March 13, authorities in the Rostov region announced that downed drones had fallen on the territory of the Novoshakhtinsky oil refinery.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the border regions of the Russian Federation have been subject to Ukrainian shelling and drone attacks. In recent days, attacks on Belgorod and the Belgorod region have become more intense amid reports of battles with Russian formations fighting on the side of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the border areas of the region. As a result, at least 20 people in Belgorod have already been killed and more than a hundred injured, according to statements by the regional governor. While Belgorod residents try to get the attention of the authorities, a popular Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov called the complaints of Belgorod residents about the shelling a “vile hysteria.”

Spring is coming. Sakura have started blooming in DC, while across the ocean the third year of shelling and murder is blowing out lives as easy and fast as leaves from the trees. What happens if a Ukrainian shield is ultimately broken by Russia’s bombs? Will we still enjoy blooming trees under the peaceful American sky? Or will it be our men’s turn to take up arms and defend our land from Putin’s seizing ambitions?

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