Michael Grimm — a former Staten Island congressman, Marine and FBI agent — is traveling in Ukraine as a Newsmax at-large correspondent.
The entire country is a battlefield — which is something nobody can truly understand without seeing it firsthand. There is not a single person in Ukraine at the moment who is not directly and deeply impacted in one way or another by the war. Living in relative freedom and security, we Americans do not fully appreciate the sheer weight of that.
You can’t drive very far without being stopped at a military roadblock. Without proper identification, you can not get through. Ukraine is surrounded by advancing Russian forces from the north, east, south, and even some on the west along the border with Moldova.
I have witnessed first hand women fleeing to give their children a chance at life, of people losing their businesses, homes, and life savings with nothing to return to. These are the deeply personal aspects of the carnage of war.
One woman I met fled Luhansk in 2014 to Kyiv during the invasion of Crimea. When she fled, she left behind three apartments and a business. She had to run for her life because she was a pro-Ukrainian activist, and she feared the advancing Russians were going to put her in prison. Now, she has had to flee Kyiv with her pregnant daughter, to stay with a friend in Lviv. Before she got to Lviv, she miraculously was able to get her daughter and grandchild out of the country and to safety in Sweden.
Her son-in-law stayed behind in Kyiv to help support the army. He was in the Ukrainian army in 2014 when he was wounded by the Russians. Because of his injuries, he can no longer serve in active duty, but he felt he nevertheless had to stay to support his brothers in arms. That’s the extent to which these people are dedicated to defending their homes.
Throughout this nightmare I am struck by how calm and collected the average Ukrainian still is, four weeks into a full-on invasion. They understand the danger and are very cognizant of how serious this is, but they are incredibly stoic about it. This is not a people that will ever give up, which makes me realize that any hopes Putin may have had of occupying Ukraine or even installing a pro-Putin government in Kyiv are absolutely doomed.
These people are fighters. They have embraced the fight they’re facing, and I can’t even imagine what could ever make them lay down their weapons and surrender. That’s something the entire world can look up to and emulate. It’s like an entire nation is channeling Winston Churchill in the face of pure, unadulterated terror.
Everyone is also very proud of President Zelensky, even those who didn’t vote for him. They’re glad to have a strong, courageous leader, and he has been the one key factor in inspiring the entire nation to stand strong and stand up to Russia’s invasion.
Most Ukrainians I’ve met have a favorable view of the United States and though they would like us to do more — like institute a no-fly zone — they understand our desire to avoid a larger war with Russia. They all firmly believe Putin will not stop with Ukraine, and whether or not they are right, I think we need to take their perspective seriously.