Ukraine Students Back To School, Sword Of Damocles Hanging

by Elpidio R. Estioko

When Ukraine bounced back to regain territories occupied by Russian troops, their troops in the war zone didn’t see it coming!

They must have been very busy celebrating their victories in occupying some cities previously seized by them that they were caught flat-footed and blinded by Ukraine showing superb military tactics and exhibiting renewed strength that pushed them back.

As the war progresses, Ukrainian children went back to school on September 1. On their first day of school, however, instead of sharing their fun vacations, as we used to do whenever we go back to school, they shared their survival stories they went through with their families, relatives, and friends.

They are aware that the Sword of Damocles is hanging above their heads and anytime, it will fall and hit their schools again disrupting their education. Their stories were of surviving the war. Their first day of school was not normal. It was full of suspense and negative feelings even if the students still had the luxury of playing in campus which they have been missing.

The Associated Press reported that at least 379 children have been killed since the war began, while the whereabouts of 223 others are unknown. Moreover, 7,013 children were among the Ukrainians forcibly transferred to Russia from Russian-occupied areas.

Despite the risk, 51% of schools in Ukraine reopened to in-person classes, with an option to study online if the parents prefer.

First grade teacher Olga Malyovana told Associated Press: “This year is different to the others. We are in a war situation. We were really worried about the children and their safety, but we fixed all the facilities, we have a shelter.”

“Safety remains the priority” said the school administrators and national officials. For schools that don’t have access to shelters or are located close to the borders or near active military zones, children will only study online.

“Two years of Covid and … six months of war, is having disastrous impact on children’s growth and learning and mental health,” Murat Sahin, UNICEF representative in Ukraine said. “So, we need to bring that normalcy.”

This happened as the Russia-Ukraine war is entering its seventh month of hostilities Ukraine showed superb military aggression in regaining some cities originally controlled by Russia.

But, will Russia cave in? Instead of caving in, Russia seems to be employing the military tactic “one step backward, two steps forward” strategy as Russia’s president Vladimir Putin ordered a massive offensive and the possible use of nuclear weapons. U.S. President Joe Biden privately warned Putin not to use nuclear weapons but will Putin heed Biden’s call?

At home, Russian citizens are revolting against Putin’s order drafting all able-bodied Russian citizens to join their army. This must be a sign that the regular Russian army is crumbling and disintegrating. But this did not move Putin. Instead, he ordered additional troops to Ukraine and vowed to use nuclear weapons.

So, As I See It, I don’t think the renewed vigor being displayed by Ukraine forces pushing the Russian soldiers backward, is ending the war. Russia is not conceding and in fact trying to regroup and buying their time to strike back again!

Ukraine’s counteroffensive literally turned the tide and changed the dynamics of the war. Ukraine’s sudden victories served as good morale boosters in Ukraine-occupied areas – and in the western capitals supporting Kyiv.

As to when it will end? Honestly, I don’t know! For as long as Russia continue to believe that as a superpower, it will not bow to smaller country such as Ukraine, the war continues.

The thing is, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will not pull out his troops just like that! He will continue to fight and bully smaller nations. His bloated ego and superpower mentality are instilled in his mind that no amount of defeat in the Ukraine-Russia war zone at this time will change his mind.

He is committed to destroying Ukraine and will be fighting back like a wounded animal that when pushed or cornered becomes desperately more forceful and energetic in offensively and defensively engaging the war to the very end.

Will the Sword of Damocles in schools and occupied territories fall? When?

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at

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