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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Russia-Ukraine War

February 23, 2023

A Student’s Perspective of the War in Ukraine

Kudzai Mhondiwa

Gleb Drumi, a senior business accounting major from Russia, spoke of his personal experience of the war between Russia and Ukraine.  

On February 22, 2022, the Russian government waged an all-out war on the nation of Ukraine. What Russian President Vladimir Putin touted as a “military operation” has led to hundreds upon thousands of civilians and soldiers killed, wounded, and displaced from their homes. 

“The mobilization and the draft which I fall under doesn't allow me to go back, and if I do go back, the probability of me getting drafted and being pushed into the war is very high,” said Drumi. [1] Since Drumi’s arrival to the U.S. from Russia in 2018, he described the detachment he’s felt from his home country since the enforced draft of men between the ages of 18-30.  

Portrait of Gleb Drumi by Gleb Drumi.

Drumi described his family's quick response in also leaving the country, a place he called home for 17 years of his upbringing. “My family is currently in the United States, they left Russia in April of 2022, about two months after the war of Ukraine started.” [2]  The bone-chilling reality of war continues to manifest along the Ukrainian battlefield with U.S. officials estimating a number close to 200,000 Russian casualties, while Ukraine suffers with at least 100,000 casualties along with 30,000 civilian deaths. [3]  “There are millions of people who are against the invasion, there are millions of people who do not support what’s happening and a lot of people have been put in jail for protesting,” Drumi added, revealing the Kremlin's operation in silencing the people using the threat of imprisonment. [4] It is important to note the common misconception of the Russian people supporting the assault on Ukraine.  Drumi then went on to express his grief of the full-scale mobilization: “It feels sad that for the next few years, I won’t be able to go home and the responsibility indirectly falls on the shoulders of everyone who has a Russian passport regardless of their position and their opinion that they cannot express on the war.” [5] Drumi’s heavy remarks highlighted the vilification of the Russian people, and the shared guilt surrounding the government’s continued attack on the defending nation of Ukraine.  The tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been an ongoing issue for recent years. Experts described it as a “social, humanitarian, and economic crisis” for Ukraine and the rest of Europe. [6] As the chaos ensues, who are the leaders in charge, and what is the motive behind the assault on Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin pictured at the Kremlin's Press Conference by Hindustan Times

Vladimir Putin, a 70-year-old former KGB officer, and current president since the year 2000, has had a history of conflict with the neighboring nation of Ukraine. On February 20, 2014, Russia launched its invasion of Crimea in response to Ukraine’s merging relationship with the European Union during the 90s and 2000s. [7] 

The invasion led to the annexation of the peninsula on March 18, 2014. Russian armed forces were then stationed in the region, reinforcing their military presence in the peninsula which allowed a strategic link between Russia’s ally, Syria. The Kremlin were then able to utilize the large natural gas deposits surrounding Crimea. [8]  

The Kremlin’s escalation of land dominance is evidently clear, yet Russian citizens such as Drumi are left without a clear answer to the long-term goal of the recent invasion. Drumi said, “It’s really difficult to tell the reasons for the invasion, the de-militarization, and de-Nazification of Ukraine, however, no one explained what that means – it looks like the initial plan was to take over most of Ukraine within the first few weeks and annex those territories and make them part of Russia.” [9] 

Drumi went on to describe his personal account of an acquaintance killed in combat, saying, “One of the guys who was goalkeeper we played against a lot, he was killed in Ukraine because he was drafted and sent to Ukraine.” [10] The feeling of loss becomes all too familiar during the turbulence of war, women and children are caught between the crossfire, and homes that were once filled with memories are now reduced to rubble.  

Man searching remains of destroyed home by Al Jazeera

Drumi summarized by saying, “If few are guilty, all are responsible.” [11] A simple yet striking response echoes in the minds of anti-war Russians silenced by the government and the advanced efforts of war in Ukraine. 



  1. Interview with Gleb Drumi, 2/15/23. 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. Rueters. (2023). Russia could expand draft age as soon as this spring - lawmaker. U.S. News. 
  4. Interview with Gleb Drumi, 2/15/23. 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. War in Ukraine: Tackling the policy challenges. (2022, May 27). OECD. 
  7. Russia's 2014 Invasion of Crimea - A Short History. (n.d.). [Video]. Sky History. 
  8. TRT World. (2021). Why is Crimea So Important to Russia? [Video]. YouTube.  
  9. Interview with Gleb Drumi, 2/15/23. 
  10. Ibid. 
  11. Ibid. 
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