From Jamie Peipon: By all accounts, it was a strange Independence Day in Ukraine. There were warnings about mass missile strikes which did not materialize. It could still happen overnight, but it seems unlikely. The number of times the air raid sirens went off seemed much higher than usual. You can hear the sirens in the video above. Many Ukrainians joked on social media about losing count of the number of times they heard them. The video was taken on Independence Square in downtown Kyiv where the “parade” of destroyed Russian tanks is located (as well as my beloved National Academy of Music). It is clear that these Ukrainians have no panic left to give… and these are the untrained civilians.
Even as the danger threatened to be greater, British PM Boris Johnson and Polish President Andrzej Duda both made their way to the Ukrainian capital and met with Zelenskyy today. These two European leaders, and their respective countries, have truly led the continent in support for Ukraine. There is no doubt that their efforts, and even just their presence on the hardest days, has played a significant role in rallying support.
Someone found an original way to celebrate this year by hacking into internet-connected cameras that come equipped with speakers. This type of camera is most often used privately in places of business and in common areas of apartment buildings. The cameras hacked were all located in Russia or Russian-occupied territory like Crimea. The hackers blasted the Ukrainian national anthem and other patriotic, pro-Ukrainian songs through the cameras, and then were able to watch the reactions of the people as they began to look around with concern. The videos were posted on social media.
Here are a few things worth noting about Ukraine’s independent spirit as displayed over the past six months:
Ukraine estimates that over 45,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine. That is equal to almost the entire army of Belarus. It is no wonder that they do not seem eager to join the fray. Even western estimates, which tend to be much more conservative, are shockingly high. British intelligence estimates Russian casualties (which includes killed, injured, and captured soldiers) at 80,000. Their defense minister describes those type of casualties as levels that put Russia in a “very fragile” position.
Another point of interest is the fact that Ukraine really did mobilize their entire country. Everyone has done their part. At the beginning of the invasion, that collective spirit was at center stage (i.e. the babushka taking out a drone with a jar of pickles, the small groups of unarmed civilians blocking entire columns of Russian tanks in the streets, etc.). But that collective work continues. Ukraine created a chat bot they call eVorog (translation: eEnemy) where Ukrainians can submit videos, pictures, and coordinates of Russian troops and equipment. Ukrainian officials say that 353,000 citizens have exposed themselves to danger by taking pictures and videos and then submitting them to the chat bot. Through the work of these citizens, the Ukrainian armed forces is getting almost real-time intelligence that they are actively using to attack the enemy.
Lastly, another testament to Ukraine’s independent spirit is how well they are supported by those abroad. In a new Chicago Council poll on US public opinion on Ukraine, the results show that 80% of Americans support sanctions on Russia. 76% support receiving Ukrainian refugees. 72% support sending additional arms and military supplies to the Ukrainian government, and 71% support economic support for Ukraine. Those numbers are amazing considering how challenging it is for Americans to agree on almost anything. Most shocking (to me, anyway) is that 38% of responders supported actually sending US troops to defend Ukraine.
“In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.”