(Editor’s note; Poland is currently the third largest donor to Ukraine in terms of security and military assistance, followed the US and UK. Today, former Naval Polska, a former member of Poland’s Special Forces known as GROM, which was stood up in 1990 with the training assistance and support of the United States Army’s Delta Force and Britain’s SAS or Special Air Service Commandos.)
Ukrainians are a very brave nation, but there is no doubt that without outside help, not only in terms of military aid, but also humanitarian assistance, they would not be able to withstand the onslaught of a powerful Russian army for very long.
Russia Held All the Cards Prior to the Invasion
Experts and analysts often like to compare countries using statistics, comparing the military potential in economic and economic terms. After such a juxtaposition of Ukraine with Russia, after the outbreak of the war on February 24, Ukraine should no longer be on the world map, and yet it is and each day it fights better and better against the economically more powerful invader. According to various lists prior to February 24, 2022, Russia had the second largest army in the world, while Ukraine was in 27th place. Such a juxtaposition indicated the enormous advantage of Putin’s army.
Moreover, it seemed that Russia had a huge advantage not only in terms of the number of troops but also in terms of their technical advancement, for years boasting about Russian novelties, such as the fifth generation SU-57 fighter plane.
So how is it that the Ukrainians are still fighting? After 2014, the Ukrainian army underwent a major transformation, learning from the West and gearing up for the inevitable war that would come in 2022. However, we must remember and this is what I would like to emphasize, how important alliances and outside help are. Ukraine, not being a part of NATO’s structure from the very first days, could count on help not only from its neighbors, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania but also from almost the whole world, from NATO and the USA in particular.
Poland Aids in the Refugee Crisis
We in Poland, as Ukraine’s neighbors, apart from handing over military equipment, had the opportunity to participate in something that only our grandparents remember, the mass migration of war refugees. The total war that Putin started is aimed not only at soldiers but above all at defenseless civilians. Queues that span several dozen kilometers of refugees stood on the Polish border. Believe me, a soldier fights much better knowing that his family, wife, children, parents, and even his dog are safe. Within 6 months, according to the data of the Border Guard, over 5.9 million refugees from Ukraine, mainly women, and children, crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border. On March 7 alone, refugee crossings in the town of Medyka exceeded approximately thirty thousand. people, of which eighteen thousand crossed by foot. The Russian invasion of Ukraine led to the largest wave of displaced refugees in Europe since World War II. According to the UN, over 11.5 million people have left Ukraine in total since February 24. Many volunteers who took over to help at the border from all over Europe and from many countries of the world could not believe that there are no refugee camps, and that help is mainly based on the generosity and action of ordinary people, on their own, and not the state and the government.
According to the July report of the Polish Economic Institute, Poles spent at least $ 2.9 billion to help refugees from Ukraine. I know that money in such moments is not the most important thing, but as the saying goes, “From an empty jug, even King Solomon cannot pour water” Help in the above scope, i.e. provided by Poles, was possible for a simple reason, many Poles welcomed Ukrainian families into their homes, it was often heard among my friends that they gave their second apartment for free to a Ukrainian family. With time, many transition centers were established in Poland. These are open facilities, citizens of Ukraine can stay there on as if they are staying in a hotel, provided with accommodation, meals, and legal care. In March, the Polish government introduced the possibility of granting personal data to the PESEL registry, confirming their identities legally, which makes it easier for refugees from Ukraine to function in Poland. Granting PESEL to refugees from Ukraine has resulted in them being treated as Polish citizens, and they can also apply for one-off financial aid to cover expenses for food, clothing, footwear, personal hygiene, housing fees, and what is most important, refugee status ensures the opportunity to work, and about 500,000 children from Ukraine, on a par with Polish ones, go to school. Poland, being a country literally at the frontier, must function normally, allowing war refugees to live a normal life and introducing them to society, we got rid of the problem of closed transit camps in the world, where refugees are merely stored and not permitted to work or leave the camps.
Of course, it was possible for a simple reason, Ukrainians, just like Poles, are Slavs, with similar languages, a similar mentality, and a common history, although this has not been easy for centuries, now it is time for mutual help, not accounting for the past. I would also like to mention that our Polish aid would not have been possible to this extent without outside help. I myself have participated several times in the transfer of aid flowing from the USA to Ukraine via Poland, so you Americans, apart from a lot of military aid, can once again feel that you have passed the test of humanity together, helping all those standing in long queues as war refugees, caused by war at the border crossing.