Unrelenting Russian aggression against Ukraine, now in its sixth month since invasion on February 24, can elicit fatigue, confusion, and distancing, even among those ardently committed to supporting Ukraine. Certainly, the world keeps turning (barring Russia’s insane threats of nuclear attacks), and other tragedies and vitally important issues must also be responded to — every human life and every violation of human rights or freedoms requires our passionate reaction.
Yet the Russian war against Ukraine must remain as one of our key commitments, not only because the Russian aggressors continue to murder civilians, including children, daily and destroy Ukrainian lands, social/cultural treasures, and animals/nature, but they flaunt their disregard for all international human rights inciting all other aggressors to act without consequences. Days ago, the U.S. has assigned the Russian Federation as a country that commits terroristic acts, and numerous countries around the world have formally acknowledge the brutal extermination of Ukrainians as a genocide. This war is both about Ukraine as well as about our commitments as humanity to justice and unity.
Many of us have donated, marched, “bought up” Ukrainian vacation rentals, signed petitions, or showed other forms of solidarity against this war. From those of us from Ukraine, enormous gratitude!
So then, what else can be done in face of unrelenting violence and crazed militaristic assault? Certainly, continuing to encourage governmental and non-governmental groups to offer direct support to Ukrainians, especially in aiding their military efforts to fight off brutal aggressors intent on killing, torturing, and terrorizing Ukrainians, is very important. If you are interesting in still contributing to these efforts, I recommend United24, a charity initiated by Ukraine’s President Zelensky and whose formal ambassadors include such icons as the musical group Imagine Dragons and actor Liev Schreiber.
There are other ways to use your financial voice in supporting Ukraine. Even though worldwide sanctions against Russia were intended to remove financial backing from a country that uses its enormous arsenal of weaponry against an independent nation and its civilians — including many weapons prohibited by all international conventions such as cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs, thermobaric bombs, etc. — a small number of international businesses remain and, by default, are sponsors of the war. For example, as I write, Hilton hotel group, Hard Rock café franchise, Benetton clothing line, and Ritter Sports chocolates are still funding the war against Ukrainians. If you want to check companies you use, I recommend @BoycottRussiaBot on platforms such as Telegram (do watch out for wrongly typed names because Russian aggression is especially egregious online). By choosing to boycott these companies, you can make a stand against sponsorship of Russia’s brutality in Ukraine and other parts of the world.
You can also educate yourself about Ukraine and Ukrainian history outside of either old “USSR” based or new pro-Russian versions. Russia has been extremely active in promoting its ideology, whether in culture, academia, or the internet. It’s not easy to wade through an enormous pile of pro-Russian lies that are blogged, published in academic books, or spouted by supposed independent thinkers. If you feel confused, I suggest you stay with the basic fact that Russia has been and remains a violent totalitarian oligarchy intended to colonize; to erase all opposition, including inside its borders; and to exploit. If your source minimizes this fact or misrepresents Ukrainians (or other non-Russians such as Lithuanians or Georgians) as the antagonists (i.e., “neo-Nazis”), you probably have bumped into Russian propaganda. You can support Ukraine by refusing their agendas.
An entertaining way to educate yourself about Ukrainian history and current events is via Ukrainian art and artists. Songs by numerous Ukrainian artists, describing Ukrainian resistance and Russian propaganda (e.g., fictional Ukrainian Pentagon-funded biolabs that infect migrating birds and poultry with bioweapons supposedly sent to Russia), are a “go-to” self-education about Russian lies and amazing Ukrainian resistance. The best example is the wildly popular and subtitled Ukraine Will Win.
Numerous Ukrainian artists have exposed the horrific destruction of Ukraine, including the 2022 Eurovision winner Kalush Orchestra in Stephania, Ed Sheeran’s featuring Antylia in 2step, Pink Floyd in Hey hey Rise Up, or violinists worldwide, led by a teen Ukrainian violinist playing from a bomb shelter. A newly re-made song by Ukrainian Sofka, entitled “Going Home” (see this version with English subtitles after short intro), is illustrated by pictures of Ukrainian children who witnessed the war.
The worldwide artists supporting Ukraine have offered another way of resistance, inviting all of us to join in singing along Ukrainian songs (Oy u Luzi is a song about fighting off Russian aggression that dates from 1914). The New York City based Theater of War production of a 2500 Greek play about choices and experiences of wars and refugees, which included American stars like Oscar Isaac, David Strathairn, and Willem Defoe along with a “chorus” of Ukrainians, brought together thousands of people from over 60 countries. Joining these efforts is another way to say No to War Against Ukraine!
Toys such as Legos, visual artists, video games, hospitals, IT startups, famed restaurants (New York’s Veselka), or writers like Stephen King are all continuing to show their solidarity. I hope all of us will continue to fight off the fatigue and struggle together until, in words of Zelensky, “light overcomes the darkness.”
Oksana Yakushko, PhD, is a Santa Barbara-based psychologist, psychoanalyst, professor, and Ukrainian immigrant