Impacts of Ukrainian-Russian war felt in Oregon


Elle Davis, Co-Fold Editor

Russia invaded Ukraine for a second time on Feb. 24, 2022. This came after eight years of war in the Donbas and Crimea, months of diplomatic talks, the amassing of over 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and escalating speeches given by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy responded by enacting martial law and ordering general mobilization. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states and their partners are now sending billions of dollars worth of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

“I will do everything in my power to limit the pain the American people are feeling at the gas pump. But this aggression cannot go unanswered,” said President Joe Biden at a press conference about economic sanctions imposed on Russia on Feb. 24.

Gas stations around the Portland metro area are now charging over $4 for a gallon of unleaded fuel. The price hike is a symptom many student drivers and their families are feeling.

“I do worry about gas prices being that high. It will make accessibility to driving less possible. When does it [the price increase] stop?” said senior Simone Sienkiewicz.

Oregonians may have also noticed the presence of Ukrainian flags hung in the windows of businesses or homes and an increase of relief efforts and vigils organized by Ukrainian churches across the state.

“There have been so many conflicts worldwide, but until it hits home so closely, you don’t understand what the feeling is. You feel hopeless and helpless,” said Tualatin High School IT Specialist Sergey Bas.

Bas lived in Belarus before applying for political asylum in 2003. He, like many other Americans with ties to the region, has been monitoring the situation closely.

“My grandparents in Kharkiv feel the bomb blasts almost every day. The majority of Ukranians are scared for their lives,” said senior William Shepelev.

Kharkiv, a city in eastern Ukraine, has been under siege from rockets and artillery since the invasion began.

“My uncle lives in a neighborhood with other citizens, and they have appointed themselves as guards of the neighborhood. When they see someone they do not recognize, they report it to the police. This is to stop Russian spies and Russian saboteurs,” Shepelev added.

Putin’s current mental state and its role in further escalation has also been discussed. On Feb. 27, he declared he was putting his nuclear forces on “special combat readiness,” a heightened alert state.

“I hear Putin is spending all his time in a bunker. No one can get to him. He doesn’t mind pressing the nuclear button,” said Bas. “Zelenskyy on the other hand? The dude is awesome! ‘I don’t need a ride, I need ammo.’ That’s President Zelenskyy’s quote.”

Zelenskyy — a former comedian and champion of Ukraine’s Dancing with the Stars — has garnered praise for his ability to unify the world and Ukrainians. He continues to strengthen his anti-war coalition with NATO nations and films daily selfie-style updates. According to Ukraine’s Secretary of National Security and Defense, he has survived three assassination attempts but remains in Kyiv.

Bas reiterated Zelenskyy’s patriotic sentiments when asked about his hopes for Ukraine’s future.

“If Ukraine stays independent, there will be a lot of positives for the world… So don’t worry about oil prices going up at the moment. We will survive, because we are finally working together as various nations,” he said.