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Day 16: Is Russia Committing War Crimes in Ukraine?

It was good to be back in my apartment in Krakow that I rented for the month of July. I slept easily but woke tired.

There was no reason for me to be tired; I stayed at a good hotel last night in Lviv. The room was dark, quiet and air conditioned.

Yesterday morning I had breakfast with Luksaz and Jullia at the hotel and they told me about the air raid sirens that went off at 3:00 in the morning in Lviv.

Really? Alarms went off?

They couldn’t believe I didn’t hear them.

I slept through air raid sirens.


Being in a war zone brings many risks: maybe Russia will drop a bomb on the city while I’m fast asleep in an airconditioned room.

Every time I go into Ukraine to bring humanitarian aid, I breathe shallower. The moment we cross the border back into Poland, I feel the weight of war lift off of me.

The mother and daughter who rode with us into Ukraine on this trip had the opposite experience. “We are home.” The daughter smiled the moment we arrived in Ukraine.

I tensed when entering Ukraine; the two of them relaxed. When we left the country, I perked up; the two of them wilted.

They miss being home.

I asked Luksaz’s girlfriend, Jullia if she felt at home in Ukraine or if home for her was Poland, where she now lives.

“Always Ukraine.”

Before my friends dropped me off, the mother asked me how I was doing. From the trip. How was my mind.

I exhaled and said, “Okay.”

She said, “It normal you worry in war. Be careful no push good feelings so much fast.”

I nodded, fully understanding that I had some processing to do when I got home.

I got out of bed and walked around my little apartment in Old Town. I posted the column I finished before the trip: about taking a homeless woman to lunch, and then went back to bed and slept for hours.

I might have slept all day, but I forced myself to get up, shower and go out for a walk.

It seemed so unfair that hours away people were living in hell as they navigated lives consumed with fear, torment and hostilities from an aggressive neighboring country. I’ve heard people in Ukraine call it a War/life balance: the war is here, fight as hard as you can and keep living.

We call it a work/life balance. They call it a war/life balance.

Can you feel the weight of that difference?

A soldier we met in the Eastern part of Ukraine said that his wife would have a baby the following week; he would not be there for the birth. He didn’t complain about this, just mentioned it. A soldier I met on the train mentioned that he hadn’t seen his seven-year-old son for a year. The mother and daughter I traveled with to Lviv hadn’t been home for almost a year; it wasn’t safe for them to travel.

I’ve heard so many Ukrainian people say, “This is the way it is, now.”

How strange that here in Poland, monuments stand proudly without protections, children play out of arm’s reach and people walk around eating ice cream cones.

It’s like living in a time warp.

I’m having trouble accepting the justification that war is a normal part of our world. That any country at any time can declare war and kill those in neighboring countries. That the rest of the world respects the aggressor enough to stand back and give him space.

It’s like the world is patiently waiting for Putin to stop his temper tantrum for not being able to easily take what is not his.

Why are we giving Russia space? Does it remind you of the time, many years ago, when the world gave Hitler space?

Kind of similar.

Kind of similar.

Hitler did so much damage before he was stopped. Is history repeating itself? In my lifetime?

People ask why I am so upset about this war. I ask, why aren’t you so upset about this war?

Why do we talk about Russia with a “tut, tut” attitude while we use our best handwriting to list its many war crimes?

A school is badly damaged.
(One of many hundreds of schools that has been destroyed by Russia in Ukraine. Hello war crime.)

Note: In the mid-1800s, the world came together and made an international agreement called the Geneva Convention. This agreement governs the status and treatment of captured and wounded military personnel and civilians in wartime. Leaders who do not follow these conventions are convicted of war crimes that warrant court hearings and prison sentences.

We know that Russia is fighting dirty.

Here are some of Russia’s war crimes.


By the way, as you read over these crimes, note that Russia, knowing full well the seriousness of war crimes, still insists that its operations are limited to military targets.

Really, Russia?

Well, reader: you be the judge of that.

A few of Russia’s war crimes according to the UN over the first 500 days of war:


Widespread torture

1,036 attacks impacting educational and medical facilities.

1,000 attacks on healthcare establishments.

Over 9,177 civilians killed or murdered.

Over 15,993 civilians injured.

Over 16,000 Ukrainian children taken from Ukraine to Russia.

400 civilians murdered in Bucha.

450 Civilians murdered in Izium which is in the Kharkiv region.

They have attacked apartment buildings, malls, theaters and other places where… civilians are.

According to the UN, Russia could also be responsible for “crimes against humanity’ for attacking civilian infrastructure such as power stations and dams.

There’s more. A lot more.

Do you think that Russia is only targeting military targets?

If so, then I’d like to offer you a trip to… the front lines of the war. Hang out in a Ukrainian civilian hospital, or at a Ukrainian civilian school. Go and play on a Ukrainian civilian playground, spend time at a Ukrainian civilian mall or visit with people living in Ukrainian civilian apartment buildings or small civilian houses along the front lines that are under attack.

You won’t have to worry about spending hours of your time hiding in bomb shelters during attacks, since you’re a civilian.



If we know there are war crimes, then the war has to stop.

Game over.


(If you as angry about this war as I am, please share this so others can learn how serious this war is. Thank you for caring.)

Here are some statistics from the UN. Ukraine civilian war casualties 2023 | Statista




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