Senior Norwegian general Eirik Kristoffersen estimated last month that 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or injured, along with tens of thousands of civilians, while US and other western sources recently told the New York Times that Russian casualties were getting close to 200,000, as poorly trained recruits and former convicts are thrown unprepared into battle, used as little more than cannon fodder.
However, as the fighting on the battlefield rages and Putin’s bombs rain down on towns and cities across the country, this unjustified, illegal and immoral war is also causing another type of damage – the grief, fear and mental distress among those who have, so far, survived.
According to a new study by academics at Edinburgh Napier University, more than one in four Ukrainians are now believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or the more severe ‘complex’ version of PTSD.
One of the researchers, Professor Thanos Karatzias, said: “Almost a year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we are beginning to understand the extent of the psychological toll it will be taking on civilians. We found people have often been exposed to several potentially traumatic events in that time, whether it is hearing an air-raid siren, facing the destruction of local infrastructure or losing a loved one. If and when this war ends, we will need to think about ways we can help people move on with their lives.”
When considering the war in far-removed and peaceful Scotland, we should try to put ourselves in the shoes of Ukrainian soldiers as they face death on the front lines, but also civilians who live with the fear that a loved one could be killed or that a Russian missile could suddenly end their lives. This may seem like a grim request, but imagining how we would feel, how we would cope in such a terrifying situation, is important to enable us to empathise.
Surely no one who truly thinks about the scale of pain and suffering that Putin has caused would want their elected representatives to do anything other than provide sufficient assistance to enable the Ukrainians to defend themselves.