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A Ukrainian Artist’s Pine: War's Impact and Hope for Survival

Updated: Dec 13, 2023


artist looking out window at a war zone

Andrii Dankovych stares out his window toward the east where the fighting is. He contemplates his future. And whether his country will survive. Some news sources claim his country’s resources are gone. And it’s only a matter of time before the white flag is waved.


We have emailed; me from my Missouri home; he, from his home in Western Ukraine. We have never met, but he is an artist and the illustrator of my three books. He has been the go-to-guy for Sugar Grove publishing, offices in the States and Madrid. And, in part, began his work in the U.S. for the iconoclastic writer, Finn Briscoe.


I am interested in Andrii’s welfare, and his insights. While true emotions can be hard to detect with digital communication, a sense of worry is written between the lines of his answers to my questions. He has the heart of a poet.


“I have only been able to work at ten percent capacity since the war,” Andrii writes. “My emotional state is one of constant anxiety. It’s difficult to concentrate properly,” he says, almost apologetically.


At 36, he works on his craft the best he can from his home in Lviv, which sits 70 kilometers, or 40 some miles from the Polish border. It is the largest city in western Ukraine. Lviv, like the country, with a population of 32 million, was once part of the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1991, four years after Andri’s birth. Today, the city's population, some 700,000, while not at the center of Russian bombings, has seen missile and drone attacks.  


“I don’t know how many people have died in the war, ” Andrii says.” It’s mostly to the east. But, I believe reports about deaths are true.”


According to the British newspaper, The Guardian, at least 500,000 persons have died, soldier and civilian, Ukrainian and Russian, since the war began in February of 2022. Although exact military death statistics are unknown in the Ukraine War, The Guardian reports, the Russians have lost upward to 300,000 soldiers, and Ukraine has lost 70,000. 


The war is in its 641st day as of November 30th, 2023; compared to American deaths in World War II, from 1941 to 1945, over 1,300 days, 400,000 American soldiers died over those almost four years. 


In World War II the Soviet Union lost 27 million persons, 8 to 9 million were in the military, 19 million were civilians. 

 

Some experts of military warfare claim the War is one of attribution, meaning a win will come only by the last man standing. Yet Andrii is hopeful Ukraine will prevail. His country’s hope and dream is to regain the western regions lost to Russia in 2014. 


Will wishful thinking be enough to outlast a Russian military force of upwards to 2 million, some of which reports claim are paroled inmates? 


Ben Aris of the BNE News, an agency which reports on eastern Europe, says the Ukrainian people are almost unanimous in their support of holding their regions and winning back areas taken. Their troop number is estimated at 500,000, less than half that of Russian forces. 


Isolating Russia from international trade is one strategy which should be continued, Andrii says.


Sanctions are actions by one government to restrain actions of another government who is behaving aggressively or violating international law. 


The United States and European nations have sanctioned Russia over 100 times since the Ukraine War began. And also before that in 2014 when Russia steamrolled into the west of the country, annexing the Crimean Peninsula.


So far these sanctions relate to suspending imports of Russia fossil fuels-coal, oil and natural gas, along with diamond trading, as well as isolating financial transactions between the West and Russia.


To keep Ukraine alive, the U.S. has given $75 billion in aid, which is earmarked for humanitarian, military and financial assistance.


But given The Hammas’ invasion from the Gaza strip of Israel on October 7, 2023 and Israel’s retaliation, it is unknown whether substantial U.S. monies will continue to be extended to Ukraine. 


Over 5 million Ukrainians have fled their homeland since the War began. “Ultimately, Russia will disintegrate as a world power,” Andrii says. “I will stay.”  


Andrii can be reached through Sugar Grove Press.com.


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