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Since the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the world has witnessed devastating conflict and catastrophic harm to civilians across the region. This week marks not only two years of the full-scale invasion, but also the tenth anniversary of Russia’s invasion and seizure of Crimea in 2014. These tragic anniversaries provide an important opportunity for the international community to reflect on how it can help bring an end to the violence and support sustainable peace. 

The humanitarian situation

In this past year alone, more than six million people in Ukraine were forced to flee their homes. Over 14 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Since the start of the conflict, more than 27,000 civilians have been killed, along with more than half a million soldiers who have been killed or wounded on both sides

The U.S. has provided billions in military assistance. But investments in diplomacy and peacebuilding lag behind.

For a country of just 40 million people, these consequences have an outsize impact on reconstruction and recovery. The prolonged effects of fighting, including disruptions to the global food system, continue to exacerbate the already fragile humanitarian conditions of vulnerable people in Ukraine and around the world. This situation cannot improve unless the war stops. 

The U.S. has provided over $44 billion in military assistance over the past two years. But investments in diplomacy and peacebuilding that are crucial to alleviating the humanitarian crisis and securing a just, sustainable peace continue to lag behind. The U.S. can and must do more to realign its Ukraine policy away from a military-first approach and towards solutions that prioritize peacebuilding, human rights, and shared security. 

Taking steps towards peace

While Congress struggles to pass further supplemental funding for Ukraine, lawmakers are debating whether significant humanitarian aid funding should come at the expense of human rights along the southern border. As these debates continue, it’s critical to remember that all people deserve to live with dignity and rights in a world free from war and the threat of war.

Advocating for peace means more than just speaking out against war.

Providing military funding at the expense of protections for asylum seekers and human rights misses that mark. For months, the Senate has negotiated policies that could have barred thousands of Ukrainians from the right to asylum in the United States had they been enacted in 2022. Initial attempts to advance these anti-asylum measures in the Senate failed, but they’re far from off the table.

As the war drags on, FCNL urges the United States to support multilateral diplomatic approaches that open the space for a comprehensive peace process. Advocating for peace means more than just speaking out against war. While the U.S. cannot and should not dictate terms of peace, it can be a better champion of a diplomatic resolution and help envision a new security paradigm in Europe based on the principles of shared security, not the threat of force. 

On this tragic anniversary, take a moment of reflection and join FCNL on Feb. 23 for an interfaith vigil to pray together for peace and to lament the human suffering. Carry the message of peace forward and urge Congress to support diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine.

Lauren Evans

Lauren Evans

Program Assistant for Peacebuilding (2023-2024)

Lauren Evans is FCNL’s 2023-2024 program assistant for Peacebuilding, assisting the team in advocating for sustainable and nonviolent U.S. foreign policy.