On Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russia officially invaded Ukraine. Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, has had a rough history with Ukraine, as he directed unmarked military vehicles to enter Ukraine to support Russian-backed separatists in a small undeclared war between the two in 2014. However, Putin never directly acknowledged the presence of his troops back then. Now, he has completely committed to invading and has claimed it is because NATO is becoming too large and is a threat to his country and he wants to bar Ukraine from ever attempting to join it. This invasion, however, cannot be justified under international law as it is not an act of self-defense or humanitarian intervention, and this war is causing a massive number of Ukrainian people to flee to neighboring countries every day. One of these neighboring nations is Hungary, the country where one of our foreign exchange students, Tündii Lippai, is from.
“I think I have been keeping track of events since maybe two months ago, but I don’t really know because I don’t watch the Hungarian news here. It will be stressful. But they’ve always been talking about the situation because of the fighting in 2014, it just never got this big.” said Lippai. She mentions how in the beginning, around 600,000 people entered Hungary from Ukraine in just the first couple of weeks. A lot of the people fleeing blame the lack of job opportunities, the war itself, and a failure of political will.
Living in America, a lot of us generally have the viewpoint that countries need to move in and help Ukraine through this war. However, while there are pros to doing this, it could also lead to some devastating consequences. “But this would be really bad if Germany or Europe, in general, wanted to help because Germany is a part of NATO, and if NATO wants to help it will become a really, really big war,” Lippai said, “I think the only thing that can help finish this war is not helping Ukraine, because after it could be so much worse.” So while stepping in now could help save Ukraine, it may lead to global warfare.
When asked how she was feeling about everything and whether or not she was anxious or stressed about how this could affect her flights back home, Lippai said, “Yes, I am really worried because Hungary is right next to Ukraine so if something happens the next country might be Hungary. My father might have to go fight as well. Also, I have a layover in Munich, Germany so if anything bad happens in Germany I may not be able to go back.”
Lippai admits it is very nerve wracking being here while everything is going on in Europe, but she says she’s nowhere near as nervous as any of the Ukrainian exchange students here in America. She says she is torn between feeling safe and happy she is here and nervous for her family and friends back in Hungary. Not only that, but a lot of political debate in her country has left her feeling anxious over the future.