Mass grave is evidence of the horrific price Ukraine is paying as it fights for freedom

Most Americans feel much the same about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion now as in February: 53% of Americans surveyed in an August poll said the U.S. should continue to support Ukraine “until all Russian forces are withdrawn.”

SHARE Mass grave is evidence of the horrific price Ukraine is paying as it fights for freedom
An expert examines a body during an exhumation in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022.

An expert examines a body during an exhumation in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine, Sept. 16.

Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photos

In a forest outside the town of Izium, Ukrainian authorities this past week made a horrific discovery: a mass grave site containing more than 440 bodies, some of which showed signs of torture, according to multiple news reports.

The bodies included soldiers, adult civilians and children, reports said. Photos of the scene, showing wooden crosses marking individual burial sites and investigators pulling bodies from the ground, are hard to look at. Being at the scene is undoubtedly far worse.

The discovery wasn’t the first evidence of the atrocities that have been reported by Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the neighboring country almost seven months ago, on Feb. 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made clear note of that point in a video address he recorded after soldiers liberated Izium.

“Bucha, Mariupol, now, unfortunately, Izium,” Zelenskyy said. “Russia leaves death everywhere. And it must be held accountable for it. The world must bring Russia to real responsibility for this war.”

Editorial

Editorial

The discovery of the mass grave site is another reminder of this clear point: You don’t have to be an expert in foreign policy to support the view that no leader who invades another country, entirely unprovoked, deserves consideration in “negotiating” an end to that invasion.

The way to end the bloodshed and tragedy of this war is for Putin to get out of Ukraine.

Pressing on, to a rising death toll

Americans were quick to back Zelenskyy and Ukraine right after the invasion, when one poll showed 89% of Americans were closely following news of the war. Congress sent hundreds of millions in military aid. Lawmakers gave Zelenskyy a standing ovation when he spoke virtually to a joint session of Congress to make a plea for continued support.

Ukrainian flags popped up everywhere on social media. The Ukrainian women who confronted an armed Russian soldier, demanding to know why he was in her country and handing him sunflower seeds (sunflowers are a national symbol for Ukraine) “so they will grow here when you die” became a social media heroine.

News of the war hasn’t dominated headlines recently to the same extent as when the war began. America has plenty of our own problems that demand attention, though none as dreadful and deadly as an invading army.

Yet most Americans feel much the same about Putin’s invasion now as in February: 53% of Americans surveyed in an August Reuters/Ipsos poll said the U.S. should continue to support Ukraine “until all Russian forces are withdrawn.”

In addition, 51% continue to support sending arms to Ukraine, and 58% said they were following news of the war “very” or “somewhat” closely.

The U.S. and other allies must continue to support Ukraine, which has been handing Putin one defeat after another as Russian soldiers surrender or retreat from retaken territory.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed since the war began, as NPR reports. Over 13 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes. Grain and other exports from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere have been disrupted.

Most Russians support Putin’s war, polls there have found, despite the price being paid in soldiers’ lives and in the impact of economic sanctions intended to pressure Putin to withdraw.

Putin on Friday vowed to press on with the invasion, undeterred by the lack of support he received earlier in the week from the leaders of India and China at a summit in Uzbekistan.

“I think what you’re seeing is just a manifestation of the fact that this aggression has been an aggression against the interests of people across the planet,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday at a press conference at the State Department. The U.S. is sending Ukraine another $600 million in military aid.

Last Thursday was International Day of Democracy, a day for Americans to remember that the institutions and principles we cherish are worth fighting for.

Ukraine is also fighting for freedom and democracy, too, and paying a terrible price. That’s something worth remembering, too.

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