RALEIGH, N.C. — It’s been a year since Russia invaded Ukraine, causing the biggest war and refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. According to the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, more than eight million Ukrainians have fled their homes and become refugees.

What You Need To Know

  • February 24 marked one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting the biggest war in Europe since WWII
  • Against the odds, Ukraine’s military has held its ground, even regaining control of regions Russians attempted to occupy
  • Thousands of civilians and troops have been killed, and eight million Ukrainians have fled, triggering a humanitarian crisis felt around the world

One year ago, Spectrum News 1 interviewed Duke Political Science professor and foreign affairs expert, Dr. Bruce Jentleson, back when tensions were rising on the border between the two countries.

Now, as the fighting enters its second year, Jentleson says it’s surprising Ukraine is still standing.

“Its president is still a commanding leader and alive. The Russians have had huge setbacks. The war still going on and the Ukrainian people have suffered tremendously,” Jentleson said.

“Rather than split NATO, like Putin thought he would, he actually expanded [it]. Sweden and Finland wanted to come in and the allies, you know, pretty much across the board being more together than they have been in lots of years,” he said.

On Friday, the Biden Administration announced a new $2 billion military aid package for Ukraine, adding to the $113 billion spent so far in support of the country.

Some say the U.S. is doing too much, others say it’s not giving enough support for Ukraine to defeat Russia.

“The consensus behind the aid held out pretty well through the first year …” Jentleson said. “But it's getting increasingly politicized. You know, the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, uses the expression 'a blank check.'”

Jentleson says polarization in the U.S. about the aid to Ukraine may make it difficult to provide more sophisticated weaponry in the year to come.

Meanwhile, China called for a cease-fire and peace talks between Ukraine and Russia earlier this week.

Jentleson says it’s unclear if China is going to side with Russia or utilize an opportunity to be a broker for peace.

“[The move] would get some credibility with the United States in the West and actually enhance its (China’s) global role that way rather than just getting on the side of the Russians,” Jentleson explained. “We don't quite know yet, but China is going to be a big factor in the year to come.”

“The Ukrainian people have shown enormous courage and skill to hold out. Now, can any people hold up under the barrage of the Russians for another year? ... I would hope that we get to a settlement where Russia admits its defeat, leaves the country and we can move on to a peace agreement,” Jentleson said.