Bosnians relive past war trauma as Russia invades Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war


When Serb forces bombed my dwelling in Sarajevo, I used to be hiding in a neighbour’s home simply throughout the road. It was July 19, 1995, and I used to be 4 years outdated and placing on my purple socks – the socks my father had exchanged a packet of cigarettes for, the one socks I had throughout that final yr of the struggle.

My mom had promised to take me to play within the entrance yard of our neighbour’s home – a small patch of grass, concrete and freedom in a metropolis that was below fixed Serb shelling.

However first, my mom returned to our household dwelling to take a fast bathe. That was when the air raid siren that had turn into such a characteristic of our each day lives sounded.

Then got here the blast.

The subsequent jiffy felt like an eternity. My uncle tried to cease me from operating in direction of the home. I screamed and screamed for my mom, till she ultimately emerged from the smoke.

As a substitute of taking part in that day, we cleaned the rubble from our dwelling and I collected my doll’s physique elements, fastidiously placing her again collectively once more.

When Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, I stored refreshing my Twitter feed and studying the information, attempting to grasp what was going down on the bottom. On the night time of February 27, when the primary footage emerged of a residential constructing in Kyiv being hit by a missile, I couldn’t sleep. The reminiscences of my circle of relatives dwelling being hit all these years earlier than flooded again to me.

“When a baby goes by means of a struggle trauma, they expertise issues in a unique method [than the adults],” explains Selma Bacevac, a psychotherapist specializing in the Balkans who relies in Florida in the USA.

“The kid doesn’t have the capability to grasp that someplace on the market, there may be security. [The] baby doesn’t bear in mind the time when issues had been peaceable, nor does [the child] perceive the idea of time and the way it works.”

Now, as Europe braces for the likelihood that the struggle in Ukraine may spill over into different nations, this concern feels significantly actual for those who have had earlier wars with Russia or had been at one time invaded by the Soviet Union.

“This collective trauma that Europe or every other society carries, makes individuals really feel like they’re on this collectively, however it additionally makes them really feel extra fearful of latest assaults,” says Bacevac.

Smoke billows from a burning building in Sarajevo in 1992
In a photograph from April 22, 1992, smoke billows from a constructing in downtown Sarajevo after a Serbian mortar assault through the struggle in Bosnia and Herzegovina [File: AP Photo/Tanjug/H Delich]

Bosnia and Herzegovina, which marked 30 years of independence from the previous Yugoslavia on March 1, feels significantly susceptible to the potential of a brand new struggle. Bosnia’s independence, shadowed by the brutal four-year struggle that claimed greater than 100,000 civilian lives, and gave beginning to Republika Srpska, is as soon as once more hanging by a thread as Republika Srpska’s Serb chief, Milorad Dodik, has threatened to secede from the nation.

“I barely slept through the night time that led to [Russia’s] invasion of Ukraine,” says Faruk Sehic, a 52-year-old poet and Bosnian struggle veteran.

“I stayed awake till 2am, worrying and anticipating the worst. I knew that the struggle would erupt [in Ukraine], and I didn’t need that to occur.”

Like me, Sehic had been following the newest Russia-Ukraine updates within the information and thru social media. For Sehic, lots of the occasions surrounding the struggle in Ukraine had been far too comparable to people who had performed out within the days resulting in Bosnia’s 1992-1995 struggle: the open threats, the refugees fleeing, the heavy shelling.

Sehic’s good friend and fellow poet from Ukraine, Andriy Lyubka, discovered himself within the midst of this newest struggle. On the second day of Russia’s invasion, he despatched Sehic a textual content message: “They’re bombing Kyiv.”

The message left Sehic in a state of deep misery.

“I advised him it’s crucial that you simply write the whole lot down,” Sehic remembers.

In the course of the struggle in Bosnia, Sehic needed to flee his hometown of Bosanska Krupa, which was managed by Serb forces. He lived in a number of Bosnian cities through the struggle, together with besieged Sarajevo. The struggle helped him to grasp the significance of writing down the historical past of a rustic that would disappear earlier than his eyes. That’s the reason he has suggested Lyubka to write down – in order that he can use these notes in his future work.

Drawing of soldiers walking past a building
The liberation of Bosanska Krupa, in September 1995; a drawing based mostly on an precise photograph [Drawing courtesy of Lejla Zjakic]

Information of the assaults on Kyiv deliver a specific trauma for individuals like Sehic, who nonetheless bear in mind dwelling below what was later described because the longest siege within the historical past of contemporary warfare. Throughout this time, Sarajevo additionally skilled fixed sniper assaults from occupying Serb forces, killing near 11,000 individuals, together with 1,600 kids.

“These of us [in Europe] who’ve skilled struggle trauma, are watching these [events] on TV from a unique standpoint,” says Bacevac.

“I’ve acquired numerous messages from individuals within the Balkans saying, ‘this seems like me, this seems like my aunt, my father’. [People] are being retriggered, retraumatised.”

Bacevac says this will manifest in some ways, together with as panic assaults, survivor’s guilt, flashbacks, an incapability to sleep, emotional outbursts, nightmares and a sense of worthlessness or helplessness. Some individuals might discover themselves shopping for meals to retailer and making different preparations for worst-case eventualities.

For Amina Agovic, a 41-year-old authorized professional, this fear is doubled.

Agovic escaped the struggle in Bosnia as a 10-year-old, along with her mom and youthful sister. She spent most of her early childhood dwelling in exile in Australia, however in the present day lives in Finland along with her husband and their 4 kids. Though Finland has a 1,340km-long border with Russia and was invaded by the Soviet Union through the temporary 1939-1940 Winter Conflict, the nation’s President Sauli Niinistö has sought to guarantee residents that the struggle in Ukraine is not going to spill over into their nation.

However Agovic and her household had been hoping to completely relocate to Bosnia this yr. Now, she is not certain that it will likely be protected to take action.

She says that, regardless of Finland’s historical past with Russia, she feels it’s safer to stay the place she is.

Refugees on a plane fleeing fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992
In a photograph from Might, 1, 1992, refugees settle in aboard a Yugoslav air pressure airplane in Sarajevo previous to their departure to Belgrade, after fleeing the preventing in Bosnia-Herzegovina [File: AP Photo]

In latest months, Dodik, who’s an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been extra vocal about wanting Republika Srpska to turn into an impartial state, probably becoming a member of Serbia. For Bosniaks, who had been ethnically cleansed from these areas, this secession is unacceptable.

However these threats by nationalist Serbs have been supported by Russia, and Russian government-backed foundations have been accused of selling genocide denial over the Srebrenica bloodbath, during which greater than 8,000 Bosniak males and boys had been killed by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

In March 2021, the Russian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina warned Bosnia that if it joined NATO – one thing it additionally staunchly opposes for Ukraine – “our nation should react to this hostile act”.

A day after Russia’s assaults on Ukraine, Germany’s Die Welt newspaper revealed an article suggesting that former Yugoslavia nations, Bosnia specifically, are subsequent on Russia’s agenda. It’s but unclear whether or not this may imply a direct invasion.

“I’ll simply monitor the state of affairs and see how issues evolve,” Agovic says.

However with Russia additionally threatening Finland and Sweden with “severe military-political penalties” ought to they resolve to affix NATO, different European nations, together with Poland, have began to broaden their militaries.

For survivors of previous wars in Europe, these developments are troubling.

“[My mother] insists on us having passports prepared, and she or he plans for a risk of a struggle, although she lives with me in Florida,” says Bacevac. “Individuals who have survived struggle as adults have the necessity to really feel bodily protected, to really feel ready in case of the worst.”

As Russia invades Ukraine, Iraqis remember painful war memories | Russia-Ukraine crisis News


Baghdad, Iraq – The air assaults and gunfire on Ukrainian soil following the Russian invasion are stirring up reminiscences barely sealed in Iraq practically 19 years after the US-led invasion.

The assault ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine is all too acquainted for a Center East nation that was the centre of a geopolitical battle for many years.

Many Iraqis, from the capital Baghdad to provinces akin to Anbar the place the combating was among the most intense throughout the US invasion, are watching attentively as Russian troops are closing in on Ukrainian capital Kyiv – and the Ukrainian armed forces, together with armed civilians, are vehemently defending.

The horrific scenes unfolding in Ukraine have additionally performed out in Iraq. To witness assaults in one other a part of the world for Iraqis is a painful reminder for a lot of right here who’ve misplaced their hopes and goals of an finish to struggle.

“Some world leaders appear to have an insatiable greed for invading different international locations,” stated Samer al-Idreesi, a 47-year-old from the capital Baghdad.

Having lived via Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and america’ response assault of Iraq in 2003, al-Idreesi instructed Al Jazeera he believed all warmongers needs to be punished.

Then American President George W Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, alleging then chief Saddam Hussein was constructing “weapons of mass destruction” whereas harbouring operatives from al-Qaeda, the armed group held answerable for the September 11, 2001 assaults on america.

“Saddam, Bush, and Putin – they’re all canine,” al-Idreesi stated. “And if Putin might study something from Iraq, that’s this would be the starting of his finish.”

‘The place we might go’

Regardless of some elementary variations between the struggle in Iraq and the one in Ukraine, one factor virtually all the time stays true: abnormal folks bear the brunt of battle.

As civilians in Ukraine bunkered down in anticipation of Russian air assaults and others fled west within the hope of leaving the nation, many individuals Al Jazeera spoke to stated they may sympathize with the displaced and had been reminded of an analogous ordeal.

“I do not forget that my dad and mom requested me to pack all of the issues I wanted as a result of the People had been coming,” stated Mona Saade, 31, from Baghdad, as she recalled the times main as much as the US-led invasion when she was 12 years outdated.

“However then, we rapidly realized that we didn’t know the place we might go – there may very well be combating actually in all places on this nation.”

As Saade was talking on the telephone with Al Jazeera, she stated a information alert appeared on the TV display: city warfare intensified in Ukraine’s second-largest metropolis Kharkiv. She paused for a couple of seconds and resumed the dialog.

“It’s uncanny how historical past can repeat itself – it’s like I’m once more in 2003, watching information that instructed us city warfare was intensifying in Baghdad or in Basra,” Saade stated.

In contrast to Saade and others who’re following the information in Ukraine carefully, others are selecting to look away from the vicious information cycle. For them, to see residential buildings bombarded and kids crying on the sound of gunfire is a certain set off of their trauma from having skilled the invasion of Iraq personally.

‘Horrible reminiscences’

Mariam Jaber, a 34-year-old Iraqi who lived in Basra throughout the US-led Iraq assault in 2003 and moved to america shortly after, stated any sight of the struggling in Ukraine was “too onerous to look at” and it “immediately introduced again horrible reminiscences”.

“I select to not observe the information as carefully just because I believe will probably be an excessive amount of for my psychological well being, and I can solely pray that all the things might be high-quality quickly,” she stated.

Footage of Ukrainians lining up by borders to depart the nation and enter neighbouring states has additionally introduced painful and generally humiliating reminiscences for a lot of Iraqis.

Following the invasion of Iraq, sectarian battle quickly engulfed the nation – many Iraqis needed to flee both to different Center Japanese nations or locations in Europe and North America.

But their exodus was not welcomed by many Western international locations. Nationwide borders had been shut to them, boats taking refugees to cross the Mediterranean Sea had been intercepted, and lots of nonetheless stay in detention centres.

Ukrainians, however, might enter the European Union, a spot many Iraqis have risked their lives attempting to enter and not using a visa.

As Iraqis are cruelly reminded of the invasion in 2003, the US, EU and their allies are slamming sanction packages on Russian oligarchs.

That features Putin personally with the goal of “imposing prices on Russia that can additional isolate Russia from the worldwide monetary system and our economies”, in accordance with the most recent assertion issued by the White Home.

From exclusion from SWIFT, a dominant worldwide monetary messaging system, to a focused asset freeze, the West seems decided to make sure Russia faces the implications of the invasion.

‘Laborious to even purchase bread’

The phrase “sanctions” sadly will not be unfamiliar to Iraqis.

The US launched among the fiercest financial penalties on Iraq following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The sanctions had been so debilitating {that a} era of Iraqis suffered unspeakable ache and its rippling impact continues to be seen within the present Iraqi financial system.

“When Saddam invaded Kuwait, the sanctions had been so onerous that Iraq couldn’t purchase pencils for a decade,” wrote Omar al-Nidawi, an Iraq analyst, on Twitter because the West was mulling sanction packages on Russia.

Many Iraqis are conflicted on the introduction of harsh sanctions on Russia: some are cheering the punishments to Putin over the struggle, whereas others are frightened they may find yourself solely making abnormal Russians’ lives depressing – with out doing a lot in curbing Putin and his oligarchs’ capability to wage wars.

“It was so troublesome that it was onerous to even purchase bread,” stated Maher Mensour, an Iraqi who lived via the crushing sanctions imposed on Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait.

“They supposed to punish Saddam, however all they did was to make our lives unlivable.”

The language put out by america, EU, United Kingdom, and Canada appears to counsel this spherical of sanctions is particularly focused at Kremlin leaders and a few central monetary establishments. But it’s unclear how – and to what extent – these sanctions will have an effect on abnormal Russians’ each day life.

The struggle in Ukraine continues to be unfolding and the state of affairs is quick altering. 4 days into the invasion, Russia has but to take management of the capital metropolis Kyiv.

Again in 2003, it took US-led forces greater than three weeks following the invasion to make sure the autumn of Baghdad.

As folks in Baghdad painfully transfer on from their struggle reminiscences, some predict even when Russia might take Kyiv, what follows the seize, and even the regime change, can be extra defining than the battle for Ukraine itself.

“Did you see what occurred after Baghdad fell?” Samer al-Idreesi requested.

“It was pure chaos: insurgents began to seem in all places,” he added, referring to the battle following the elimination of Saddam and the armed teams nonetheless threatening Iraq’s safety.

The battles following the invasion had been indirectly extra brutal than those fought throughout it. Insurgent teams sprung up throughout the nation, both in opposition to American forces or with the intent to use the vacuum left by a scarcity of central governance.

“Nobody is aware of what might occur in Ukraine. Possibly there might be insurgents and possibly there might be extra bloodshed, or possibly it would finish quickly with a peace speak,” al-Idreesi stated.

“However I actually hope the struggling that we skilled as Iraqis wouldn’t be repeated in Ukraine.”

Romania on edge as Russia invades Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine crisis News


Cluj-Napoca, Romania – “I guarantee you, no Romanian ought to concern for the protection of himself and his household,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis mentioned on Thursday, shortly after Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – its greatest navy deployment since World Struggle II.

“Romania enjoys the widest potential safety ensures. By no means in our historical past have we been higher protected in opposition to any potential aggression. Romania won’t be drawn into the navy battle in Ukraine,” mentioned the Romanian chief.

In a TV deal with the identical night, Defence Minister Vasile Dancu mentioned Romanians “will not be in peril” and that they shouldn’t be anxious as a result of there “received’t be a navy battle between NATO and Russia”.

Nevertheless, the assurances from the management of the nation of 19 million individuals could have little impact in Romania, a NATO member since 2004, the place many have been on edge because the Russian assault on Ukraine.

Romania’s concern is rooted in repeated Russian invasions over the centuries. The Russian-controlled territory of Transnistria in Moldova, simply 100 miles (160km) from the Romanian border, is Moscow’s western-most garrison.

Romania pledged “unconditional political help” for Ukraine within the occasion of a Russian invasion and has offered Ukraine with cybersecurity backing.

A protester holds a drawing of eastern Ukraine and Moldavian territoriesA protester holds a drawing of jap Ukraine and Moldovan territories with ‘not Russia’ written on them throughout a protest exterior the Ukrainian embassy in Romania [Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via Reuters]

As bombs started to fall in Ukraine early on Thursday morning, Bucharest-based scholar Valentin Lăzureanu woke as much as a cascade of notifications on his telephone saying the Russian assault.

“When the information and photos began coming in, I realised we didn’t have a devoted house for it and everybody was getting their data from so many scattered sources,” the 24-year-old informed Al Jazeera.

Lăzureanu created a Fb group the place individuals may share sources and confirm data to assist one another perceive what was occurring throughout the border.

Since then, younger Romanians within the group – known as Struggle Room – have been discussing potential situations that would even engulf their nation.

“How probably is it that they’d invade Romania as properly?” requested one within the group.

Romanian international coverage analyst Oana Popescu-Zamfir informed Al Jazeera that whereas a direct navy battle between Russia and Romania is unlikely, political, financial and social repercussions of the Ukraine invasion are “palpable”.

“There’s a degradation of the regional safety state of affairs,” mentioned Popescu-Zamfir. “This impacts Romania economically as a result of your entire area is perceived by traders as having a better threat of funding.”

Popescu-Zamfir additionally famous that Romania, like a lot of Europe, relies on Russian gasoline. The battle may set off a spike in gasoline costs or full interruption of gasoline flows into Romania.

A satellite image shows a long traffic jam of vehicles leaving UkraineA satellite tv for pc picture exhibits an extended site visitors jam of automobiles leaving Ukraine, close to Siret, Romania [Courtesy of Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Ukrainians search asylum in Romania

Moreover the financial impact, Romania has additionally obtained greater than 10,000 Ukrainian asylum seekers at their northern and jap borders because the Russian invasion.

Earlier this week, Defence Minister Dincu mentioned Romania was able to taking in half one million refugees.

Nevertheless, based on Romanian media experiences, no initiative has but been taken to construct camps for the Ukrainian asylum seekers.

That lack of presidency motion has prompted many Romanians to kind one other Fb group, United for Ukraine, the place nearly 50,000 individuals have supplied to pay for Ukrainian asylum seekers’ flights or resort bills, and even present them with locations to sleep.

Ukraine additionally has a sizeable Romanian inhabitants of about 150,000 individuals, a lot of whom are anticipated to return to Romania within the coming days.

‘US will defend each centimetre of NATO’

When US President Joe Biden introduced extra sanctions in opposition to Russia on Thursday night, he additionally dedicated to sending extra troops to Romania, a strategic NATO accomplice within the area which hosts alliance bases and a key missile defence system.

“If he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) strikes in NATO nations, we are going to get entangled,” mentioned Biden in his deal with, which was extensively reported in Romania.

“The US will defend each centimetre of NATO,” mentioned Biden.

Within the leadup to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany and France additionally despatched weapons, troops and plane to Romania, which has been staunch in its help of the transatlantic alliance and its condemnation of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

However based on international coverage skilled Popescu-Zamfir, central and Japanese European nations have “repeatedly identified the hazard of Russian aggression”.

Popescu-Zamfir believes the Black Sea, which Romania shares with Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey, stays “a particularly weak space”.

“Romania, particularly, made efforts after the [2016] NATO summit in Warsaw when extra significance was given to the Baltic nations and Poland, whereas we didn’t have any contingency plans for the Black Sea,” she informed Al Jazeera.

In the meantime, the Romanian media have been conserving a round the clock watch on the developments in Ukraine, additionally measuring how the invasion may have an effect on their nation.

“I’m hopeful the West will reply to Russia’s aggression with unity,” mentioned Lăzureanu.

A woman holds the arm of her child as they arrive from Ukraine to RomaniaA girl holds her little one’s hand as they arrive from Ukraine to Romania, at Sighetu Marmatiei border crossing close to Baia Mare, Romania [Fedja Grulovic/Reuters]

‘Will they invade Moldova?’

Many in Romania are additionally anxious about Moldova, a nation of two.6 million individuals which has sturdy historic and linguistic ties with Romania however shouldn’t be part of NATO.

“In some ways, the Republic of Moldova is an extension of Romania,” Popescu-Zamfir informed Al Jazeera.

“Will they invade Moldova as properly?” requested one of many members of Struggle Room, the Fb web page created by Lăzureanu.

Former Romanian President Traian Basescu even urged the federal government to do a “snap referendum” to unite Moldova and Romania to discourage Russia from advancing into the territories.

Whereas President Iohannis didn’t entertain the concept, he spoke to his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu after Russia attacked Ukraine and guaranteed her of help in case of any Russian aggression.

Within the early twentieth century, Romania and Moldova have been united as the identical nation, however in 1940, Moldova turned a republic of the Soviet Union.

The fashionable-day Republic of Moldova, created after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, stays influenced socially and politically by Russia.

Most Moldovans converse Russian and ethnic Russians residing in Moldova splintered off and declared their unbiased republic in Transnistria in 1990.