Two years ago, on February 24, at about 04:20, I was awakened in my residence in the center of Kyiv by the powerful blast of a rocket explosion that had stricken the city, notifying the beginning of the sinister imperialistic plans of the Russian leadership to conquer and eradicate Ukraine.

This aggression was preceded by months of verbal trade of warnings by Western leaders about a possible invasion of Ukraine and its denials by Russian officials while the Russian army piled across the perimeter of the frontier with Ukraine. Such a situation of uncertainty kept the country and the world under enormous tension. Eventually, this turned out to be a hypocritical prelude to the illegal, unjust, unprovoked full-scale aggression of the permanent member of the UNSC against an independent state, a member of the UN. In flagrant violation of international law!

Instead of stopping the aggressor, leaders of global democracies were preparing themselves to accept the new reality of Ukraine under Russian control, thus yielding once again to the aggressor by turning a blind eye to the flagrant violation of international law. As happened before on many other occasions. Afterward, without leaving their comfort zone, they were going to continue policies of appeasement and business as usual with the Kremlin. Albeit, after the 2014 invasion of Eastern parts of the country and annexation of Crimea, it was clear what the Russian actual pursuits in Ukraine were.

However, this time, their calculations and expectations appeared to be wrong. As they joke in Ukraine, “the folks from the territorial defense detachment from the border region of Ukraine had a different decision”. So, the situation escalated in the opposite way. Popular resistance in Ukraine caused uproar in societies in Europe and other global capitals, forcing their governments to respond respectively to unfolding dangerous developments and avert impending disaster.

The first few days of brutal, massive invasion from many directions were indeed extremely scary, with gloomy projections about the future of Ukraine. For many foreign observers inside the country, the situation was dire, and the overwhelming feeling was that the nation was doomed. On the third day, explosions, sporadic machine gun bursts, and fighting were already heard in the city center, creating an impression that the capital was on the brink of a fall. One could hardly put up with this thought, imagining what consequences await the region and the world.

The danger caused by massive invasion and occupation put the whole country in motion. From one side, we saw endless queues of volunteers in front of the military enlistment offices across the country, in a sincere impulse, demanding arms to protect their motherlands. For me, who knows the Ukrainians, it was a clear sign that the nation would fight to the death and, after 30 years of independence, would never give up its freedom. This was a moment of truth for the country.

On the other, – we also observed the massive evacuation of millions of Ukrainians, mainly the elderly, women, and children, towards the Western borders of the country in search of a safe haven in neighboring countries.

The first few days were the most dangerous and critical for defining how the war would evolve. During these days, we witnessed fierce fighting along the perimeter of the aggression, but mainly around Kyiv and its suburbs. We also saw how ordinary Ukrainians in mass were repulsing and rejecting the so-called saviors of the “Russian world”. Scenes of fearless Ukrainians, old and young, men and women throwing themselves in front of tanks, blocking the passage of military convoys, and shouting that the Russian “liberators” are not welcome, nobody wants and expects them in Ukraine were quite common throughout the lines of confrontation.

Soon, it was also clear that this war would not be an easy walk for the Russian army, with plans of ending soon with a fanfare parade on the Khreschatyk.

However, the sides were unequal in terms of the size of the population and economic and military might. It was so apparent that Ukraine urgently needed support and assistance to withstand the onslaught in the long run.

In a sign of solidarity, societies in developed democracies raised their voice in support of Ukraine, opening their homes and providing shelter for refugees and displaced.

In a state of utter desperation and anger, on February 26, 2024, the third day of aggression, we also appealed to partner countries, friendly nations, and international organizations to do everything possible to help Ukraine to withstand the existential threat, to avert possible tragic scenarios, not only for Ukraine.

In parallel, we’ve also tried to reach out to the Russian public to urge them to take immediate action to stop the unfolding tragedy. On February 27, the fourth day of aggression, we also prepared a written appeal to the citizens and the people of the Russian Federation. These appeals can still be found on the front pages of our social networks (X and Facebook).

With every passing day, as the responses of the Western countries to the aggression gradually changed and picked up towards providing more support and assistance to Ukraine, our feelings were upbeat with hope and optimism. Quite the opposite, news of delays with assistance due to bureaucratic, political, or corporate reasons or lack of necessary volumes of supplies drove our spirits down. Expectations of mass popular protests in Russia against the devastating war, conducted in their names, were quickly evaporating.

In March and in the following months, things on the frontline started to change. The initial massive intrusion was stopped, the enemy was repulsed, and the Ukrainian armed forces seized the initiative on the battleground, kicking off the aggressor from cities, towns, and villages.

What we lived through and witnessed during the first days, then weeks and months, was unimaginable by the degree and scale of brutality, barbarism, and inhumanity, which identified the genocidal nature of the war aimed at the subjugation and annihilation of Ukrainians as a nation.

Upon the retreat of the occupant’s army, the world saw the shocking cadres of atrocities left behind in the liberated areas. In March 2022, the world was shocked by the scenes from Bucha and Irpin. Then were Borodyanka, Mariupol. Later, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, and other cities and towns that were razed to the earth.

Mass graves were found in several locations in liberated areas with signs of torture and indiscriminate killings of civilians and military men. Thousands of children were kidnapped and illegally deported to Russia. Prisoners of war were tortured and killed in mass. Many other crimes against humanity and war crimes have also been registered during this war aimed at breaking the will to resist in society.

Large cities, in particular, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Kherson, and other cities and towns located closer to the frontline, were and remain under constant rocket and drone shelling, bringing deaths and destruction. Vital civilian infrastructure was under permanent attacks to destroy it and keep the civilian population without electricity, heat, water, and gas.

Nevertheless, Ukrainians have demonstrated unparalleled courage and bravery, resilience, savviness, and ability to fight the army that multiple times outnumbered them in personnel, surpassed in armaments, military equipment, and munition, and dominated in the sea and the sky. Their spirit to fight and win was not broken. The nation was growing more robust and more united.

Throughout these two years of existential struggle, we have chosen to stand by Ukraine, to live and work in Ukraine among Ukrainians, supporting them with all available means. We have organized and participated in acts of humanitarian aid, helped mobilize necessary resources, and organized assistance to those in need.

Perhaps, most importantly, by staying together, we co-shared their pain and sufferings, better understanding their sentiments and needs. We spent many hours together in shelters in times of massive rocket and drone attacks and experienced a lack of water, gas, electricity, and other inconveniences. We have been on numerous visits to the regions to witness the destruction, manifest solidarity, provide humanitarian aid, and bring some relief through compassion. We rejoiced with them with news of gains and victories on the battlefield and grieved the deaths, losses, and retreats from battle positions.

The experience of daily life amid a horrible war made me a different person with updated views on many aspects of relations between humans and nations.

We will continue to stand with Ukraine until its victory – the complete restoration of their territorial integrity and sovereignty within internationally recognized borders. We believe in the victory of Ukrainians because their struggle is just and legal, and they are defending their right to exist.

Different revelations come to one’s mind when putting this war and its possible consequences in the global geopolitical context. One can see how the world is divided, fragile, unequal, and unfair. And how the political elites in some countries are selfish, corrupt, greedy, petty, hypocritical, and irresponsible.

This war has ruined the system of international relations and undermined the foundations of the global order based on agreed norms and principles of international law and established practices. The international system was unable not only to prevent this tragic war but also to mobilize world nations around a unified stance regarding it. Unfortunately, nations remain divided in their attitudes toward assessing, defining, and condemning this brutal aggression.

The future of the world and the architecture of peace, security, and stability are inextricably linked to the outcomes of this war. For the trust in law and justice to be restored, the victory of Ukraine should be ensured by the international community. All progressive forces should be united around Ukraine, providing all necessary support to achieve that goal.

What is the way forward to that goal? The answer to that is the Peace Formula of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. We call upon all nations to support this Formula as it lays down the foundation for fair, equal, lasting, and sustainable peace in the future.

We wish unity, strength, and patience to the Ukrainian people in this epic struggle! We wish victory to Ukraine!


Glory to the armed forces of Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!


Altai Efendiev

GUAM Secretary General