Russian aggression seems totally outrageous in the 21st century


«The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming» is a 1966 motion picture starring Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin.

It is a laugh-out-loud film, and I did laugh out loud when I saw it on the big screen as a teenager in New Jersey in the pre-home-video-days of my youth.

As I write this column a week before it will publish, the Russians indeed have come to Ukraine. The Russians have invaded.

I don’t follow international affairs very closely. I read headlines and get more detail from stories broadcast on National Public Radio.

My first reaction to the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to say out loud, “Putin is so retro.” Of course I know that there are violent conflicts in many parts of the world, but this somehow seems totally outrageous in the 21st century.

I grew up in the years when the Cold War was very cold. Even as a kid, I was aware of a certain darkness about Russia. Although Joseph Stalin was an ally to the United States during World War II, there always was worry.

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I recall my mom only half jokingly blaming the Russians for any bad weather near our Jersey Shore home.

Forecasters were predicting a partly cloudy and still chilly early spring day here in Hagerstown. As I looked through the window, I saw a pretty blue morning sky.

I don’t know what the weather was like on Feb. 24 when Russian troops crossed into Ukraine. At the very least, there were virtual clouds darkening the day and the troubles that have since continued.

Putin recognized two Russian-backed regions in East Ukraine as independent states. He later ordered troops into the regions to “maintain peace.” What a guy.

A United States spokesperson reported that Russia had between 169,000 and 190,000 personnel in and around Ukraine, according to bbc.com.

The United Nations human rights office reported that there have been at least 2,909 civilian casualties, including 1,119 deaths and 1,790 injuries. “At least 50 children have been killed and 70 injured,” according to the hill.com.

These numbers will most likely increase before you read this in the paper.

Early in the conflict, I heard NPR report that an older man sought refuge in the underground. He held his shaking white dog on his lap. A family fleeing in their car were accompanied by their audibly meowing cat. In an interview, an elderly woman told the reporter that she had taken in seven frightened cats, and that there were twice the usual number of apparently abandoned dogs running around the streets of her town.

While in Brussels for a recent meeting with European leaders, President Biden announced more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance for those affected by the war. He also announced that the United States will accept 100,000 refugees.

I don’t watch television news because I can’t bear to see the people who are struggling so unimaginably. I hate that I can personally offer only hope and prayers. They are on their way.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Russian aggression seems totally outrageous in the 21st century



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