A Ukrainian woman holding a baby walks past a barricade controlled by Ukrainian soldiers as they flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022. Credit: Emilio Morenatti / AP

The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Too often in world affairs, especially during conflicts, people talk about alliances and strategies instead of the people who live in these countries and regions.

Ukraine is a good case in point. For years, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about parts of Ukraine returning to Russia. He blamed NATO for pulling Ukraine into its sphere of influence and away from Moscow.

What Putin — and plenty of western countries that worked to counter Putin’s aims — didn’t fully consider is what the people of Ukraine wanted. As former Senior Director for Europe and Russia of the National Security Council Fiona Hill discussed with The New York Times’ Ezra Klein earlier this week, Putin somehow believed that he could simply bring Ukraine under Russia’s control. He didn’t care what the people of Ukraine wanted.

As people around the world, including Americans centuries ago, have done, “[Ukrainians] want the right to decide for themselves,” said Hill, who worked under three different U.S. presidents.

The stiff resistance that the people of Ukraine are now showing, as Russian troops advance on their cities and Russian artillery destroys their homes and businesses and drives tens of thousands of people literally underground, has put them in the spotlight. We’ve called them — and especially their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy — heroic.

They certainly are heroic, but we also see clearly that the people of Ukraine are suffering and need our help. That’s why the Bangor Daily News is donating revenue from new online subscriptions to support Direct Relief Ukraine. The organization is rated by Charity Navigator as a highly efficient and transparent aid organization, and it is working directly with the Ukrainian Health Ministry to assess the immediate need and respond accordingly. It’s not the only place where your dollars can do good. Our news pages and editorial board have suggestions.

“As Maine-centered as we are, we still believe we have a moral imperative to stand up for the Ukrainian people under mortal threat from an invading autocratic regime,” BDN President Todd Benoit said in an online message announcing the charitable campaign Tuesday. “This is why we have decided to direct all revenue generated by new subscriptions from March 8 until March 14 toward relief efforts. Given the vast need, we know this is a drop in the bucket. But just like with sustaining local journalism, every drop matters. I hope you’ll join us.”

Two million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, where they are being helped by relief agencies and ordinary citizens. Millions remain in Ukraine, many joining in efforts to repel the Russian invaders.

The needs in Ukraine are large and growing “at an alarming pace,” according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Twelve million people in Ukraine are in need of help and only about 5 percent of the expected $190 million in needed funds has been pledged by governments around the world. This total does not include private philanthropy.

We realize that the BDN contribution will be small compared with the huge need in Ukraine, and that there are many other groups in need of support here in Maine and around the world. But, with a brutal dictator relentlessly attacking his neighbor, creating a rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, we have chosen to get engaged.

You can join us by purchasing a digital subscription to the BDN by March 14. Again, all of the revenue from new subscriptions between now and then will go toward Ukraine relief efforts. Thank you.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Opinion Editor Susan Young, Deputy Opinion Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked for the BDN...