Roughly three months have passed since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Shown here, the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. (Image Courtesy of Ehpien)

By DaQuan Lawrence

On Feb. 24, 2022, when Russian forces invaded Ukraine, they reignited a previously established history of political conflict and began Europe’s  foremost war in decades. 

Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to the United Nations for financial and military support on April 5. Zelensky also sent a message via a prerecorded video that was played at the 64th Grammy Awards on April 3. Members of the international community have created a global campaign in support of Ukraine, with U.S. President Biden pledging $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid in mid-March. 

Washington D.C. residents and clergy members with ties to Ukraine denounced Russia’s actions, with members of the Ukrainian community in D.C. convening a small group to protest in front of the Russian embassy between 1-6am EST the morning of the invasion. 

Local area shops such as KNEAD Restaurants and Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores have followed states that have stopped the sale of Russia-based products like vodka, while Dacha Beer Garden, which has Russian owners and Ukrainian employees, has urged its followers to support Ukraine. 

Local businesses such as Dacha Navy Yard, Ted’s Bulletin, Bindaas Bowl and Rolls, Centrolina and Piccolina, Olivia Macaron, SpacyCloud, D Light Bakery, and Tabla have responded to the conflict by donating funds to support Ukrainians in need, while international D.C.-based charities such as CARE USA,  American Red Cross, UNICEF USA, World Vision, and GlobalGiving are also coordinating to support victims of the conflict. 

As inflation has reached a 40 year high, consumer prices have increased by 7.9 percent compared to 2021. During early phases of the pandemic, high demand and supply chain issues increased prices. After Russia’s invasion in February, global commodity prices changed with energy prices increasing by 26 percent according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Inflation is likely to be exacerbated by the conflict, which has impacted the cost of fuel in the D.C. metropolitan area. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict affected energy prices, as well as the price of wheat, as supply chains were significantly impacted and recovering from the global pandemic.

February gas prices rose as high as $4.59 in Northwest D.C., and according to the American Automobile Association the average cost for a gallon in D.C. was $3.72 on Feb. 23, which was higher than the national average of $3.53. The current national average is now $4.48 per gallon, as of May 16.

Rideshare drivers for companies such as Lyft and Uber have been  negatively impacted by the increase in gas prices. To offset the cost of rising gas prices,  both companies as well as D.C. metropolitan area taxi companies have added a surcharge for customers. 

In March 2022, Uber’s surcharge fee was 35 to 45 cents per food delivery,  and 45 to 55 cents per ride, while Lyft’s surcharge was 55 cents per ride, and D.C.’s taxis charged an extra $1 per ride.

On April 6th, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned of major consequences for the global economy as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Secretary Yellen stated that the conflict and consequent global sanctions imposed on Russia will have an impact around the world. 

During her testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen stated, “Russia’s actions represent an unacceptable affront to the rules-based, global order, and will have enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond.”

“Russia’s invasion disrupted the flow of food for millions of people around the world and caused prices to spike,” Yellen said. 

The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration reported estimates of more than 7.1 million people that have been internally displaced by the invasion of Ukraine.  This figure is an increase from the 6.48 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) estimated during the first study on March 16.

In early April 2022, Ukraine accused Russia of war crimes, with support from President Biden who said Russian President Vladimir Putin should stand trial, calling him a “war criminal.” Historically, war crimes have been difficult to investigate and even more challenging to prosecute, making it unlikely that Putin will be held criminally accountable, especially as long as he remains in power.

In Bucha, Ukraine and other areas of the nation recently occupied by Russia, claims and images of bodies in the street, and civilians being rounded up and executed have become widespread. 

Russia denies killing civilians and has accused Ukraine of dramatizing the deaths to discredit Russian troops. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said mass graves are a “blatantly untruthful provocation”  and intended to stall peacekeeping talks between Russia and Ukraine.

The history of the region undoubtedly plays a significant role in the ongoing situation. Throughout World War II, Ukrainian nationalists embraced the Nazi regime as emancipators from Soviet oppression. There is speculation that Russia is now using that history as an inflection point to increase Nazism within contemporary Ukraine.

Although the nation declared its modern independence in 1917, throughout its history, Ukraine has been under occupation or jurisdiction of both the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, as well as Poland and Lithuania.

After Moscow’s recognition of the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine on Feb. 21, and its subsequent Feb. 24 military intervention in Ukraine, the United States imposed a series of harsh sanctions on Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

The European Commission has also discussed proposing new sanctions against Russia, including measures to ban coal imports and for a moratorium on Russian vessels entering EU ports. Additionally, six European countries – Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Spain – have expelled Russian diplomats from their nations. 

DaQuan Lawrence is a global human rights advocate.

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