The Russia-Ukraine War: Two Years of Tragedy

Situation on the Ground

Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, has led to widespread devastation and the displacement of more than 18 million Ukrainians. At the two-year mark of the conflict, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified a total of 30,457 civilian casualties, noting that the real numbers are likely much higher.

The war has also significantly stressed the international security order, revived fears of nuclear conflict, and exacerbated a global food crisis that threatens the survival of tens of millions of people worldwide.

The U.S. Response 

Since 2022, Ukraine has become the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid — the first time a European country has held the leading spot since post-WWII reconstruction of Europe through the Marshall Plan. In total, the Biden Administration and Congress have provided about $75 billion in assistance, including humanitarian, financial, and military support.

Efforts to support Ukraine are shared among many countries. In fact, European countries now give $3 for every $1 the U.S. provides. In addition, aid from the U.S. and Europe to and through international organizations like the UN and NATO supplement direct aid, guaranteeing the steady flow of humanitarian assistance and military equipment that has been vital in the fight against Russia.

In February, the Senate passed (70-29) a bipartisan, $95.3 billion foreign aid bill that includes military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. (The bill also sends foreign assistance and humanitarian aid to Israel, Gaza, and allies in the Indo-Pacific region). While House Speaker Mike Johnson insists he won’t be “rushed” into approving the package from the Senate, support for funding from most Democrats and almost half the Republicans remains strong. Conversely, some members have urged their colleagues on Capitol Hill to eliminate all humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. As noted by Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security, “War is a battle of wills. If you want to break Ukraine faster than Putin ever could, cut humanitarian aid.”

Today, as the U.S. Congress considers a national security emergency supplemental, BWC and UNA-USA are appealing to Members of Congress to support the aid package for Ukraine, and to ensure it contains humanitarian funding to help the most vulnerable. Given the strong bipartisan support and demonstrated need of our ally, it is past time for Congress to act.

“War is a battle of wills. If you want to break Ukraine faster than Putin ever could, cut humanitarian aid.”

Richard Fontaine, CEO, the Center for a New American Security

The UN Response 

The UN system has responded forcefully and consistently to the war and its fallout. Within days of Russia’s invasion, the UN General Assembly met in an emergency session, voting 141-5 to adopt a U.S.-supported resolution denouncing Russia and calling on it to “immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw” all of its military forces from Ukraine. A similar resolution was passed in 2023.

Meanwhile, UN agencies are activating their teams on the ground and leveraging their influence to support Ukrainians and hold Russia accountable. The UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council acted to isolate Russia diplomatically and investigate the Kremlin for war crimes. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pledged a permanent presence at the nuclear facility in Zaporizhzhia, deploying teams of monitors to ensure the safety and security of it and other plants throughout Ukraine. Agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR, and the World Food Programme (WFP) are working around the clock and in the region to rebuild homes, deliver food and education, and facilitate the continued operation of healthcare facilities and other essential services. The UN also helped negotiate an international agreement that ended a Russian blockade to allow the export of agricultural products from Ukraine to global markets. 



Ukrainians currently require humanitarian assistance


Ukrainians are displaced in the country and throughout Europe


Ukrainian children are at risk of depression, anxiety and PTSD

UN Agencies on the Ground

Get to know UN agencies — funded in part by the U.S. — who are delivering essential services to meet the growing needs of the Ukrainian people.


    The UN Refugee Agency is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for those displaced by war.

    UNHCR has been present in Ukraine since 1994, with operations in Chernivtsi, Dnipro, Kyiv, L’viv, Poltava, Odesa, Uzhhorod, Vinnytsia, as well as in Donetsk and Luhansk in areas under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation.

    Their key activities, in line with the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, include (1) delivery of protection services, community-based protection activities, and advocacy work, (2) emergency shelter and housing assistance and promotion of access to dignified temporary and medium-term housing solutions, and (3) support in addressing the basic needs of affected people through cash and distributions of essential items.

    Read more about the organization’s efforts in UNHCR’s February 2024 Situation Report.


    The United Nations Children’s Fund opened its office in Kyiv in 1997. UNICEF works to fulfill the core commitments for children in humanitarian action, including access to education, psychosocial support, water and sanitation, mine risk education, and maternal and child health.

    Thanks to the presence of UNICEF in Ukraine, more than 7.3 million children and women have been able to access primary healthcare, 5.7 million people have safe drinking water, 3.7 million children and caregivers have been reached with mental health and psychosocial support, and 2.5 million children have been able to get back to learning.

  • IAEA

    The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field.

    Less than a month into the war, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine became the first operating civil nuclear power plant to come under armed attack. Russian forces then took control of the facility.

    By late October 2022, Russia had repeatedly targeted Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure with missile strikes, including the country’s energy system. Widespread blackouts resulted, and external power supply to all four of the country’s nuclear plants was affected.

    These events prompted the IAEA to intervene, establishing a permanent presence at all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in January 2023. IAEA inspectors regularly report on explosions and military activity around each site.

  • WHO

    Working with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and nearly 200 health cluster partners across the country, the World Health Organization is maintaining healthcare services and delivering care against the backdrop of massive disruption and unprecedented supply-chain challenges. In total, some 8.4 million people Ukrainians within the country can access healthcare and clinical support, receive treatment, and get the medicines, vaccines, and therapy they urgently require.

    The WHO also operates 26 Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) in Ukraine that support emergency and primary care, inpatient and specialist surgical care and rehabilitation, patient transfer, and Medevac assistance. In the first year of the conflict, EMTs provided 18,744 consultations across nine regions.

    Read more about the work of the WHO in Ukraine.

  • WFP

    The World Food Programme delivers food kits and ready-to-eat food rations, primarily in hard-to-reach and frontline areas where commercial supply lines are disrupted and access to food is unreliable. Purchasing more than 80% of its supplies inside Ukraine, the WFP also provides food commodities to institutions such as hospitals, care centers, displacement centers, and orphanages. The WFP’s school-based programs support daily nutritious meals for 100,000 children in more than 700 schools nationwide.

    In addition, the WFP has distributed more than $550 million in cash assistance to over 3 million people since April 2022.

  • UN Women

    UN Women is the global champion for gender equality, working to create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights.

    In 2022, Ukraine ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) and updated the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325  to reflect new wartime challenges like conflict-related sexual violence and trafficking. UN Women also helped facilitate the new State Strategy for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for women and men by 2030, as well as developed the strategy to eliminate the gender pay gap in Ukraine.

    Throughout the war, UN Women has been focused on (1) strengthening partnerships with women-level NGOs, (2) providing technical assistance on gender parity efforts, (3) leveraging UN Women’s coordination mandate and partnerships in Ukraine, and (4) scaling up its field presence to be closer to affected populations.