[Column] War and peace

Student Bas Rooijakkers feels powerless watching Europe change before his very eyes. He feels for the Ukrainians.

Bas Rooijakkers: “Until a new Cabinet takes office, I’m holding my breath.” (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

If I look at social media these days, I mostly see two things. Either I see people who are enjoying their winter holidays or a night club, or I see people showing their empathy for the war in Ukraine. The last few days have been just as two-sided for me. During the day I read about the situation in Ukraine, and in the evening I go out. It feels crazy that in the Netherlands most of the Covid restrictions have been lifted and we are thus ‘free’ while on the other side of Europe, Ukrainians are fighting for their country. It is an incredibly sad situation. Hundreds of people, both military personnel and civilians, have been killed in the Russian invasion. We see images of rockets landing on schools and homes and we see people who have taking shelter in metro station to stay safe of the bombs.

Being unable to do anything to stop the war makes me feel helpless. It probably won’t matter to Putin at all if I post a yellow and blue flag on my Instagram account. What I can do, and what I advise everyone to do, is to support good causes and initiatives that help the Ukrainians. One of these is the Students for Ukraine initiative at TU Delft where you can bring items needed by Ukrainians.

‘I am not that brave unfortunately’

It is good to see that so many organisations and people are protesting against the war in their own ways: the FIFA has expelled Russia; the international judo association has withdrawn Putin’s black belt; and the Russian tennis player Andrej Rublev wrote ‘No war, please’ on a camera at the finals of the ATP tournament in Dubai. Now that the invasion is underway, some Dutch people and non-Ukrainians have signed up for Ukrainian President Zelensky’s ‘foreign legion’. I am not that brave unfortunately, but I will stay as well informed of the situation as I can and help where I can.

War can break out, and peace is no longer free. Europe seems to be shocked by the war. The European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons for the first time in its history. Even Germany is planning to spend an extra EUR 100 billion in defence, and in the Netherlands, the House of Representatives also wants to reserve more money for the Ministry of Defence.

For me, peace in Europe has always been a given. I have read about war in history books and remember it on 4 and 5 May. But I am lucky to have never experienced it and this makes it hard to write about what is happening now. My heart goes out to all Ukrainians, and I wish them much strength in these frightening times.

Bas Rooijakkers is a master’s student in Applied Physics. He was born in Brabant and spent part of his youth on Curaçao. He enjoys jogging and since the corona pandemic has also picked up cycling. He is also always in for a coffee or a craft beer.

Bas Rooijakkers / Columnist

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers

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