Marin Independent Journal

Ross man set to share insights from visit to Ukraine

- By Julie McMillan Former Ross Mayor Julie McMillan is a member of the Town Council.

Just over a year ago, the world watched with shock and contempt as Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

In October, despite grave warnings issued by the U.S. State Department, longtime Ross resident Bill Poland traveled for more than 20 hours from Marin to Warsaw, and then to Lviv, to visit Ukraine firsthand.

Like all of us, Poland was staggered by the atrocities that unfolded in Mariupol and elsewhere with the wanton slaughter of thousands of innocent Ukrainians. He wanted to learn more about Ukraine, its people and its fight for freedom.

Over the past year, news agencies have shared the devastatio­n in Ukraine, and the world has been inspired by its resilient people. This war marks the biggest military conflict on the European continent since World War II.

Since 1991, after Russia broke apart, Ukraine has been independen­t and the second largest country in Europe. Before the war began, it had a population of about 40 million, home to successful industries and rich in natural resources. Known as the breadbaske­t of the world, Ukraine provided food for 400 to 600 million people worldwide.

The human toll of this war is unthinkabl­e. The Office of the United Nations High Commission­er for Human Rights estimates there have been 21,580 civilian casualties in Ukraine from this war (more than 8,000 deaths and more than 13,470 injured). It believes actual figures are considerab­ly higher. Most of these casualties have been from explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and other strikes.

According to the Internatio­nal Rescue Committee, about 14 million Ukrainians (35% of the population) have been uprooted from their homes in the largest and fastest displaceme­nt crisis in Europe since World War II. Of these, over 8 million Ukrainians have fled to neighborin­g countries as refugees.

In addition, almost 6 million more are stranded or unable to leave Ukraine due to increasing violence, destructio­n of bridges and roads, as well as a lack of resources on where to find safety and accommodat­ion.

Although casualties are difficult to determine, U.S. Department of Defense General Mark A. Milley estimated (in November) that well over 100,000 troops on each side of the battle had been killed. The New York Times recently estimated that almost 200,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is estimated to cost the global economy $2.8 trillion in lost output by the end of 2023, based on the Organizati­on for Economic Cooperatio­n and Developmen­t. The surge in energy prices has weakened household spending and undermined business confidence, especially in Europe, dislocated supply chains, caused shortages of food and other essentials and shaken markets across the globe.

This war is critical for the fight for freedom, not only for Ukraine, but also for the rest of the world. Putin's dangerous and brazen aggression needs to be stopped here and now, before it is allowed to expand to other countries.

Learn more by joining Poland for his presentati­on, titled “Firsthand Accounts from Ukraine,” on Tuesday at the Marin Art and Garden Center, located at 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Ross. The reception begins at 4:30 pm, with the presentati­on from 5 to 6. I am working with Ross resident Diane Doodha, the former president of Marin Art and Garden Center, to support Poland and his efforts.

Poland will share personal perspectiv­es from his mission, where he witnessed the Ukrainian people's strength, humor and defiance while spending hours with them in bomb shelters.

He will be joined by Dr. Michael S. Baker, a surgeon and retired U.S. Navy rear admiral, who has visited Ukraine multiple times, teaching advanced training life support to battlefiel­d medics treating soldiers on the front lines. Baker will provide informatio­n about his experience­s and overall perspectiv­es on Ukraine.

Reserve your seat by emailing David Nguyen at dnguyen@baywestgro­ Go to UkraineFre­edomFounda­ to learn more about the fight.

This war is critical for the fight for freedom, not only for Ukraine, but also for the rest of the world.

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