October 15, 2023
At the crack of dawn, we boarded a train headed for Chelm, a charming town located on the eastern border of Poland. The train arrived at Chelm station at 8:30, with the sun fully risen, casting long and playful shadows on the empty platforms. It was Sunday, a day of rest, and also the day of national parliamentary elections in Poland. The town appeared to be very quiet, with no one on the streets. The only sign of activity was the gentle breeze that moved the election posters. We needed to find coffee and currency exchange, but every café and money changer we came across was closed, as if the town had entered a dream-like state. Eventually, after 30 minutes of searching, we come across a gas station that was open. It was busy with a long line of customers, each with a unique story of their own travels and adventures.
Our next train, which would take us to the heart of Ukraine, was scheduled to depart at 10:30.
There are only a few passengers traveling to Ukraine; perhaps the ongoing war and violence, no one seems interested in traveling to Ukraine. This is my first time traveling to Ukraine by train. Before the war, I had flown to Kiev three times. However, due to the war, Ukraine’s airspace is closed to commercial and passenger planes. The only way to reach Ukraine is by this train we are currently on.
The travelers at the station destined for Ukraine were limited. Perhaps the ongoing war and unrest stirred by the Russian incursion into Ukraine had cast a shadow of reluctance over the hearts of adventurers. On the contrary, millions were fleeing Ukraine since the onset of Russia’s assault, seeking refuge in European and North American countries.
A Ukrainian border guard stands in front of the gate of each wagon and checks the tickets along with passports. He checks my passport, and I proceed to enter my compartment. The train appears worn and old. Inside the compartment, there are four beds, each equipped with a mattress, blanket, and clean sheets. My two companions, one American and the other Syrian/Canadian, and I move our bags and sit on the two lower beds. We all worry about the coming days in Ukraine. Even though all of my fellow passengers are experienced travelers, and some of us have grown up in war zones, there is a sense of vague concern on everyone’s faces. We are all asking each other if they have traveled to Ukraine since the war started, and the answer is no. Some of us are traveling to Ukraine for the first time, while others, like me, have not been to this country since the war began. As I said, this was my first time traveling to Ukraine by train. Before the war, I had flown to Kyiv, the capital of the nation, on three different occasions. However, now the war has caused restrictions on commercial and passenger aircraft in Ukrainian airspace. The train we are on is the only means of transportation heading towards Kyiv.
As the train traveled towards Ukraine, passing through the green countryside, the passengers felt a strong sense of tension. Among us was a former Danish government envoy for the Syrian crisis, an older man who assured us that life in Kyiv remained normal, without the chaos of war. However, his assurance did little to calm the murmurs of anxiety that surrounded the unknown future. Many people had warned me against traveling to Ukraine in the days leading up to this journey. Despite the concerns, I felt a strong desire to go, although fear was present in my heart. The only person who didn’t express her worries was my wife, Helena Bahar. As I embarked on this journey, she reminded me to stay vigilant, but never explicitly said, “don’t go.”
Amid the calm of the journey, the sound of the train moving against the tracks was a soothing lullaby that helped us fall asleep. We had been traveling since early in the morning, and the time difference was starting to affect us. However, the calm countryside, with its autumn colors, was a comforting sight that gave us hope despite our worries.
At 11:11 we reach the Polish border. The train stops. The Polish border police comes and wants to check our passports. We waited for over an hour at the border. Eventually, Polish border police officers entered our car. They checked our passports and stamped them. One of my companions mentioned that the policeman who came to our compartment was very rude. My other companion and I responded by saying that border officers in most countries do not typically behave politely towards those entering their country.
After a one and a half hour stop at the Polish border, our train enters Ukraine from the Dorohusk-Osada border. We cross the Yagodyn Auto bridge, which serves as the common border between Poland and Ukraine. We then reach the border post, where the train stops once more. Ukrainian border guards, most of whom are women, board the train to collect our passports for inspection and entry stamps. They do not permit us to disembark and take a break or walk around. Despite this, I insist on stepping outside to light a cigarette. However, the train officer informs me that it is not allowed. We remain stopped for approximately an hour and a half. Eventually, our passports are returned to us and the train resumes its journey.
At 10:40 PM, we arrived at the busy central station in Kyiv. The crowd was very different from the quiet we had gotten used to during our journey. The station was full of activity, as people hurried around, hoping that the trains would take them to safer places. In a war-torn Ukraine, the trains had become the lifelines that connected hope and despair.
The first thing that caught my attention was the significant military presence, which served as a clear reminder of the current times. The military personnel, either coming back from or going to their duties or homes, reflected the uncertainty that hung over the nation. The increased security checks and x-ray machines at the entrance were evidence of the delicate safety measures that maintained the normalcy of everyday life.
After leaving the station, we hailed a taxi to take us to our hotel. The city appeared to go to bed early, with its streets lacking the usual activity. The war had dampened the lively atmosphere of Kyiv, and now the streets only spoke of the fear that had settled in the hearts of its residents.
The cityscape was completely different from the Kyiv I remembered from my visits before the war. The lively chaos of the weekends, filled with music and laughter that echoed through the nights, had been replaced by an unsettling silence. The laughter had disappeared, replaced by fearful whispers and cries of despair.
The city had a nightly curfew from midnight to dawn, which served as a reminder of the current situation. Only the military and police were allowed to be out on the streets, while residents stayed in their homes for safety. The only exception was for emergency health situations, where ambulances were the only signs of movement in the quiet night. The city was under siege, and although its spirit remained strong, the joy was overshadowed by the fear of war. As we walked to the hotel, the silence of the night emphasized the reality of our fears.
As we reached the entrance of our hotel located in the center of the city, it was almost midnight – the time when a curfew was imposed, and the streets became quiet for the rest of the night. The hotel was busy with a mix of people from various places, with Europeans and Americans being the most noticeable. I asked about the unusual activity and found out that many of them were international staff or diplomats stationed in Ukraine. Some were staying for months, while others had just arrived and planned to explore different regions. There were also a few who had returned from war-torn areas and were waiting to go back home.
After completing the usual formalities at the hotel reception, we received our room keys and went to the elevator. The first thing that caught my attention was a notice warning about potential aerial bombardments or missile attacks from Russia. It instructed guests to go to the first floor when they hear the alarm and follow the hotel staff to the underground shelter, which was specially designed to withstand bombardments. The practice of using basements as safe shelters during air raids and missile attacks has a long history in many countries affected by war. In Ukraine, since the beginning of Russian aggression, it has become a government requirement for citizens to seek shelter underground during such attacks in order to stay safe. In cities where buildings do not have basements, people would quickly go to nearby buildings or public facilities like metro stations and government offices that have underground spaces.
The reality was that the Russian aerial and missile assaults in Ukraine, as well as in other countries where they have militarily intervened like Syria and Afghanistan during the Soviet era, have been devastating. The Russians use high-explosive bombs to target densely populated urban areas and essential infrastructure. Russia employs these attacks as a strategy to cripple the area and break the will of the people and institutions. Striking at the heart of urban centers and essential infrastructure such as power grids, water reservoirs, bridges, and highways is a tactic deeply rooted in Russia’s military history. By causing widespread destruction and civilian casualties, they aim to quell any form of resistance, armed or otherwise, paving the way for their dominion.
The strategy of targeting heavily populated urban areas and essential infrastructure was not new; it had the distinct characteristics of Russian military interventions. The experiences of Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan provided numerous accounts of this brutal tactic, which aimed to break the spirits of both people and governments in order to facilitate conquest. As I stood in the elevator, I carefully read each line of the notice, contemplating the harsh reality that awaited me outside the comfortable atmosphere of the hotel where I would be staying for the next three nights. The faces of the people in the elevator, though tired, reflected stories of resilience and hope amidst the palpable fear that filled the air. Finally settling into our room, the silence of the night carried the whispered prayers for a dawn free from the echoing sounds of bombs and the cries of the innocent.
October 16, 2023
First Day of the Conference:
Justice and Accountability: New Ways of Thinking
At 10 AM, we head to the conference venue in the city center of Kyiv. On a Monday morning, which marks the beginning of the week, the city is not as busy as it used to be before the war. The distance from the hotel to the conference venue is approximately six kilometers, which would have taken at least twenty minutes before the war at this time of the morning. However, now we arrive in ten minutes. The roads are not crowded; only a few people can be seen on the sidewalks. The only place where a large gathering is visible is Kyiv’s Freedom Square, where some Ukrainian citizens have gathered to protest against Russia’s invasion of their country. Alongside the sidewalk, there are dozens of large boards displaying pictures and names of civilian victims, representing those who lost their lives due to Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
The theme of the conference echoed throughout the halls: “Justice and Accountability: New Ways of Thinking.” It served as a call to reconsider, reassess, and rejuvenate the systems of justice, in order to inject new vitality into the foundations of accountability that uphold societies. Every discussion and panel aimed to untangle the intricate web of laws, ethics, and human rights, with the goal of charting a course towards a fair and responsible world. The conference was organized by the “Ukraine-Russia Network”, which is composed of various human rights and litigation organizations. The purpose of this conference is to address Russian crimes in Ukraine and Syria. The main focus of the meeting will be on discussing strategies to prevent crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide committed by Russian forces in these two countries. The participants include individuals from diverse professional backgrounds, such as judiciary, law, human rights, crimes against humanity, genocide, and journalism. These individuals are affiliated with several Ukrainian non-governmental organizations, as well as individuals from Syria, an Iranian lawyer residing in England, and myself.
The conference began with a speech by Olga Lautman, the coordinator of the “Syria and Ukraine Network.” She welcomed all the participants and thanked them for traveling long distances and dedicating extensive hours to reach the capital of Ukraine. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the possibilities of seeking justice against Russian officials involved in crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes.
The next speakers were the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, a member of the Independent Judicial Office of Ukraine, Stephen Rapp, an honorary member of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, and a former US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in relation to war crimes. There will also be a number of Ukrainian lawyers. In their opening speeches, they express hope that the participants of the conference will be able to create solutions in the next two days to achieve effective justice and judicial mechanisms to deal with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Ukraine, Syria, and other regions of the world. This way, politicians from major countries and international organizations can consider these proposals.
The first day of the meeting focus on lectures and in-depth discussions about prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide using existing international mechanisms. During these discussions, the participants emphasized that addressing these crimes is a top priority for human society. The goal is to prevent their recurrence as soon as possible and in the future. While some participants expressed frustration with politicians who show little interest in dealing with these crimes, they also criticized the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Security Council. They point out that the five permanent members, especially Russia, can veto resolutions related to handling war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This veto power is seen as a significant obstacle. The participants stress the importance of independent human rights organizations, civil society organizations, and the media in documenting such crimes. They believe that to effectively address war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gender apartheid, these institutions should systematically document these crimes. This includes gathering documents, evidence, photos, and videos that can aid in the process of addressing these crimes.
Given the complexity of international judicial and legal systems, such as the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, Netherlands, as well as the United Nations, the Human Rights Council, and other international institutions focused on justice and human rights, the speakers believe that the process of handling these cases will be lengthy and intricate.
The speakers also emphasize the crimes committed by Russia in countries like Syria and Ukraine. They argue that the failure to address the crimes of the Soviet Union after World War II in Eastern European countries and Afghanistan has allowed the current Russian government, which is seen as the direct successor of the Soviet Union, to continue committing these crimes in Syria and now in Ukraine.
The speakers believe that Russia has inherited the communist regime of the Soviet Union, which is characterized by aggression, and annexation of other countries’ territories through coercion. They also believe that Russia has a history of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for several centuries. Despite international treaties and commitments, the Russian government continues to commit crimes in the areas it attacks without regard for international laws. The majority of the speakers hold Vladimir Putin, the current president of Russia, and several other Russian officials responsible for killings, destruction, genocide, and war crimes. They emphasize the need to prosecute and criminally charge these individuals at any cost. They believe that the International Criminal Court should try and punish them.
October 17, 2023
Second Day of the Conference
Justice and Accountability: New Ways of Thinking
The topics discussed on the second day of the conference included “Victims Are Not Just Numbers”, “Geopolitical Insecurity”, “Response Disinformation”, “Normalization of Relations with Bashar al-Assad’s Regime: Who Pays the Price”, and “Uncovering Financial Support Routes (from Russia).” Participants are experts from Ukraine, Syria, Europe, and the United States, discussed Russia’s detrimental role in countries like Syria, Ukraine, and the broader Middle East.
During these sessions, speakers presented evidence of Russia’s attacks in Syria and Ukraine through documentary videos. They emphasized that Russians targeted not only civilians but also healthcare workers and ambulances that were transporting victims to hospitals. The Russian army also targeted healthcare facilities, resulting in a large number of casualties. These attacks on public facilities, particularly places where people sought medical services, and the deliberate targeting of doctors and healthcare staff, violate International Humanitarian Laws and laws of war.. Those responsible for these acts should be held accountable for their actions under these laws.
As I listened to the accounts of Russia’s attacks on civilian areas, hospitals, and healthcare workers, I couldn’t help but recall Russia’s Red Army similar crimes during its invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Thousands of such crimes were committed during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths, injuries, and disabilities of countless Afghans. I also noticed striking similarities between Russia’s tactics and those of the Taliban. The Taliban, before the collapse of the Afghan Republic, used attacks on civilian areas and human gatherings as a strategy to spread fear, terror, and assassination. It appears that the proliferation of fear, terror, and intimidation of civilians are a common method among authoritarian governments and terrorist groups. In fact, through massacres of civilians, infrastructure destruction, and extensive violence, they force the local population into submission and obedience.
In the second discussion “Geopolitical Insecurity,” I was one of the panelists. In this discussion, I addressed Afghanistan’s experiences with Russia’s policies, interventions, and activities as a country dating back to the eighteenth century in Afghanistan and the Middle East. I highlighted Afghanistan’s experience as one of the countries victimized by the geopolitical strategies of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In my discussion, I referenced the incorporation of Afghan soil into the Great Game in the nineteenth century and Afghanistan’s experiences during the invasion of the Red Army, which resulted in millions of casualties in my country. I emphasized that during NATO and the United States’ presence in Afghanistan, Russia indirectly provided military equipment and anti-vehicle mines to the Taliban, to slow down, and challenge the NATO and of and the United States missions in Afghanistan.
An important observation made during this discussion was that Russia has used similar tactics and methods in many of the countries it has invaded or been present in. For instance, in countries like Georgia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, and even some African countries, Russia has supported non-state armed groups and mercenaries like Wagner, resulting in the killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure using prohibited weapons. This has put the legitimate governments of these targeted countries in a difficult situation, compelling both the civilian population and government structures to surrender and comply with these criminal forces.
During the discussion on Disinformation, experts analyzed the various methods used by Russia to spread disinformation. They found that Russia not only uses outlets like the Sputnik news agency to disseminate news in multiple languages worldwide, but also spreads disinformation through social media. The experts argued that Russia, through the Sputnik news agency and other media outlets it supports, as well as local media funded by Russian intelligence agencies, aims to deceive public opinion in its target countries. Additionally, the Russian disinformation machinery tries to manipulate elections in democratic countries such as the United States and Canada, with the goal of influencing voters’ opinions about certain candidates, particularly those that Moscow believes it can cooperate with or that won’t harm Russian interests.
After the discussion ended, all participants went to another room for lunch. After eating and relaxing, the conference attendees were returning to the conference hall when they heard the loud sound of sirens echoing through the venue. It was 4:12 PM. The sirens continued to blare, warning of the possibility of airstrikes or rocket attacks. Since we arrived in Ukraine, we knew that when the sirens sounded, we should go to the nearest secure underground shelter to stay safe from the bombardment and resulting destruction.
A tall Ukrainian man, who is one of the conference participants, advises us to find a nearby “secure shelter.” He believes that Russian planes or rockets may target Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, after a two-week break. He calmly states that the conference’s meeting hall, which is on the first floor of an old six-story building, is considered “safe.” However, he suggests that underground metro stations are even safer and better protected against aerial and missile attacks.
Along with many other conference attendees from Ukraine, Syria, the United States, and Europe, I felt anxious and apprehensive as we hurried towards the shelter, which happened to be the conference hall itself. However, I had learned from news reports that residents of Kyiv had been using the underground metro stations as shelters since the war began because they offered greater safety and protection against aerial and missile attacks.
The siren continued for several minutes, causing a delay in starting the next conference panel, which I was supposed to moderate. Finally, at 5:22 PM, the siren alarm stopped, and our Ukrainian host informed us that the threat had been averted.
After the emergency siren stopped, I went on stage and invited the panelists to take their seats. Before starting the session, I shared a shared memory that resonated with millions of my fellow citizens in Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan during the years of the republic. It was a memory filled with the fear of suicide attacks, terrorism, and rocket strikes by the Taliban. I described how, for years, Afghans would say goodbye to their loved ones every morning before going to work or shopping, never knowing if they would come back home in the evening. Those were years characterized by frequent suicide bombings and terrorist attacks, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people and left many others injured or disabled.
I calmly and confidently explained that when people experience war, explosions, and suicide, they slowly adjust, and such circumstances become a normal part of everyday life in societies affected by war.
I chaired the fourth session, but before the panel, I shared a common memory that I and millions of my fellow citizens had in Kabul and other cities during the years of the republic. We lived in constant fear of suicide, terrorist, and rocket attacks by the Taliban. I explained that for years, myself and millions of Afghan citizens would say our final goodbyes to our families and loved ones every morning before leaving home for work or shopping, unsure if we would return safely. Unfortunately, during those years, especially in Kabul, there were days and weeks when multiple suicide and mass terrorist attacks occurred, resulting in the deaths, injuries, and maiming of hundreds of innocent people. I mentioned specific attacks, such as the one in front of the gate of the German embassy in 20…, the attack on the Kaaj educational center in another year, the attack on the Dasht-e-Barchi maternity hospital, and the attack on the American University. Then, I calmly and confidently stated that living in a war-torn society where explosions and suicide attacks are commonplace gradually desensitizes individuals to such situations, making them a part of daily life.
The fourth panel discussed the topic of “Normalizing Relations with the Bashar al-Assad Regime: Who Pays the Price?” During this session, participants talked about Bashar al-Assad’s recent visits to several Arab countries, as well as Russia and Iran. They criticized the decision to allow Syria back into the Arab League. They also expressed their belief that Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, is a “war criminal” who should be punished and face trial. Additionally, the panelists highlighted the difficult living conditions faced by people under the Bashar al-Assad regime, where poverty, violence, and crime are widespread. They pointed out that thousands of political dissidents are currently imprisoned by the regime. According to them, Russia and Iran have given legitimacy to Bashar al-Assad by inviting him to their capitals, while some Arab countries, influenced by Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, are trying to normalize their relations with his regime.
During this session, a Syrian citizen who frequently travels to northern Syria, where anti-regime forces are in control, raised an interesting point. The point made was that the Bashar al-Assad regime manipulates its image by inviting popular social media influencers to Damascus and other areas under its control. These influencers are given lavish entertainment to create a false impression of peace and tranquility. However, it was emphasized that this portrayal does not accurately reflect the actual situation in these areas. The citizen also mentioned that poverty, destruction, and the constant fear of torture and imprisonment prevail in these areas, making them feel like vast, terrifying prisons.
During the session, I also noticed similarities between the tactics used by autocratic and illegitimate regimes, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan. Just like the Taliban, who brought well-known social media influencers from neighboring and even African countries to Afghanistan to present a positive image, it is important to understand that these tactics do not accurately represent the true situation in Afghanistan under Taliban control. Over the past twenty-five years, Afghanistan has faced insecurity, instability, and violence as a result of the actions of the Taliban. However, with their return to power, the focus has shifted from indiscriminate violence, explosions, and suicide attacks to their overcrowded prisons, which are filled with individuals they consider as enemies or associated with resistance movements.
After finishing the session, I left the conference venue to take a short walk in the city and talk to people about the situation in Ukraine. The cool autumn breeze was blowing strongly, and it was around 6:30 in the evening. The streets were busy with traffic, and pedestrians were hurrying to get home.
Unfortunately, Kyiv has become busier compared to the past because many Ukrainians who fled conflict-ridden eastern regions have settled in cities like Kyiv or the western regions. However, the city appears to be fearful and uncertain. Kyiv, the capital, and the western areas of Ukraine are significantly safer and have more established government institutions than the war-torn eastern regions. Additionally, numerous international aid organizations have offices and staff in Kyiv, which contributes to the city’s improved economy. The cost of living has also increased in Kyiv compared to pre-war times, and there has been an increase in the number of foreign residents working for international institutions.
During my conversations with different shopkeepers and vendors on the busy streets of Kyiv, I noticed a significant contrast between the people’s admiration for their leader, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and their profound disappointment and anger when I told them about the story of Ashraf Ghani, the former president of Afghanistan. These encounters provided a clear illustration of how the actions of leaders can influence the fate of a country and the opinions of its citizens.
I had a memorable interaction with a young man who managed an electronics shop. When I asked him about his opinion on President Zelenskyy, he showed great admiration. His eyes lit up as he expressed his love for the President with unwavering conviction. He explained that President Zelenskyy could have taken an easier path and left when Russia’s influence became threatening, leaving his people to face their fate alone. However, Zelenskyy chose courage over cowardice and stood strong in defending our homeland against the Russian invasion.
The passionate support for President Zelenskyy was in stark contrast to Ashraf Ghani’s escape on August 15, 2021. Ghani’s escape during the day, leaving the Afghan people in chaos, intensified the perception of his leadership as cowardly and abandoning. Many Afghans criticized and felt betrayed by Ghani’s escape. It left our nation vulnerable and allowed the Taliban to quickly regain power, undoing the progress made by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and a dystopian place where women’s rights are brutally suppressed.
While listening to the narrative, the vendor nodded solemnly, his eyes showing a shared sense of sympathy. “The escape of your president was nothing less than cowardly and betraying,” he commented. “However, President Zelenskyy is a true hero, a leader who did not deceive his people and bravely defended Ukraine against Russian aggression.”
The stark contrast in leadership was further highlighted when I met a middle-aged woman at a food stall. I bought Ukrainian chocolates from her as a gift to take home. Out of curiosity, I asked her why she hadn’t chosen to immigrate to Europe or North America like many other Ukrainian citizens who were seeking a more secure future.
With a hint of sadness in her eyes, she replied, “This is my home. I am forty-five years old, and I want to spend the rest of my life here, even if my country experiences extreme poverty and insecurity due to war. I deeply value Kyiv and everything it represents, and I want to enjoy the city’s atmosphere until I die, even if that atmosphere is filled with fear and the sounds of bombs.”
Her unwavering commitment to Ukraine in the face of adversity resonated deeply, emphasizing the indomitable spirit of a people who refused to abandon their beloved homeland, even when confronted with dire circumstances.
As I started my journey to a Turkish restaurant, a place I had visited often before the war, I began talking to the taxi driver. I asked him about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and he expressed a strong dislike for warfare. He emphasized how much he hated war and said that many people from his country had died in the unequal struggle, and large parts of Ukraine were destroyed because of Russia’s continuous aggression. He had come to believe that war only brings destruction and sadness to everyone involved.
These encounters provided clear examples of the stark difference in leadership during times of crisis. President Zelenskyy became a symbol of bravery and strength, standing strong against aggression. On the other hand, Ashraf Ghani’s escape from Afghanistan portrayed cowardice and betrayal, which deeply affected the nation afterwards.
Returning to Poland
On the morning of October 18th, we began our journey towards the Polish border with a group of ten fellow travelers. Among them were the main organizers of the conference, who were responsible for the Syrian and Ukrainian network. The route to the Polish border was safe, with a well-maintained highway connecting the city of Kyiv to its western border with Poland. There was no news of war in these areas, possibly because the western regions of Ukraine, which shared a border with Poland, a member of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), had not been targeted by Russian attacks. This was done to prevent any potential spillover into NATO territory, as an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all members.
Throughout the entire seven-hour journey, life seemed normal. The farmlands on both sides of the road provided pleasant scenery, and the trees along the highway were adorned with autumn colors, creating a striking contrast to the grim reality of war.
We made several stops along the way, and we spent a little more time in the busy city of Lviv for dinner. Lviv was crowded because it was considered a safe city, attracting people from areas affected by war. The determination and strength of the people in the face of unfairness and difficulties were evident. Although there were no obvious signs of war, you could sense the impact of conflict in the eyes and expressions of everyone. People were upset and anxious about Russia’s brutal invasion of their country, which had caused immense suffering to innocent civilians.
At around 8 PM, we arrived at the Ukrainian border. After a thirty-minute stop for border formalities, we crossed the border. This marked the end of a journey that had started with fear and worry, as we entered the offices of the Polish border police. Our anxiety and fear had disappeared, but just a few steps away, Ukraine continued to suffer from the ongoing war, with no clear solution in sight. The situation of the Ukrainian people is a strong condemnation of the pointless brutality of war, the injustices suffered by innocent civilians, and the urgent need for a resolution to end the suffering caused by Russia’s aggression.