Friday, February 20, 2015

Retreating Soldiers Bring Echoes of War Chaos to a Ukrainian Town

Ukrainian soldiers wreaked havoc as they meandered into the town of Artemivsk in eastern Ukraine, griping about incompetent leadership and recounting desperate conditions and gruesome killing as they beat a chaotic retreat from the strategic town of Debaltseve. As the soldiers started to heavily drink, gunshots rang out while others were seizing taxicabs without payment. It wasn’t clear that all the soldiers had been given places to rest their heads and one group stood silently, trembling on a street outside the Hotel Ukraine. Meanwhile at an upscale restaurant, Biblios, others were stomping through the dining room firing shots into the ceiling and ordering brandy that they couldn’t afford. One visibly drunk soldier, who was still in his muddy uniform that he wore escaping from Debaltseve, stated “The guys are unwinding. What do you expect after a battle?” More than 5,000 people have lost their lives due to conflict within the Ukraine however the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France negotiated to cease-fire last week. None of the provisions of the peace treaty have been accomplished according to the agreement’s terms and timeline. There has been no termination in fighting, a deadline for the extraction of heavy weaponry came and went and there has been no evident movement toward a release of prisoners.

Although Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France have made a commitment to cease-fire, this doesn’t seem to bring any peace of mind to these soldiers who just spent who knows how long in Debaltseve. Honestly – how could it? Though I don’t think that their behavior is necessarily level headed, I do think that we see the mistreatment of soldiers far too often. Why is it that those who risk their lives at war can’t come home to a place to rest? Even in the United States, we see our soldiers being taken advantage of where it should be our duty to take care of them since they were taking care of us.

Brittany Schrum

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