Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2023 > Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War on Ukrainian Youth | Shete & (...)

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 16, April 15, 2023

Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War on Ukrainian Youth | Shete & Wamane

Saturday 15 April 2023


by B.R. Shete & G.V Wamane *


The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has been one of the major issues affecting the region and its people in recent years. On February 24th, 2022, Russia launched a comprehensive military offensive against Ukraine. This has led to the loss of thousands of lives and injuries to many others. The individuals who are being impacted the most by these developments are women, children, and the youth. The impact of the conflict on Ukrainian youth has been significant and far-reaching. The war has disrupted their education, as schools and universities in conflict-affected areas have been closed or damaged, causing students to miss classes and even entire academic years. According to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report, nearly 5.3 million children in eastern Ukraine were impacted by school closures and disruptions, with around 3.6 million of those children unable to continue their education. (UNICEF, 2023).

The purpose of this article is to analyse the impact of the war on the Ukrainian youth and its implications for their prospects and well-being.

Status of Ukrainian Youth:

According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the Ukrainian youth population constitutes about 20% of the total population in the country. The estimated number of young people was around 10 million (ActionAid, 2022). Most of the Ukrainian youth have received a secondary education and over 90% have completed high school (UNHRC, 2022). A substantial portion of the young population continues their education, with approximately 40% enrolling in higher education institutions. Despite facing challenges such as unemployment, scarce economic prospects, and ongoing conflict in the eastern region, the Ukrainian youth represents a significant and energetic segment of the population with the potential to drive social and economic progress.

Impact of war on the psychological well-being of Ukrainian youth:

The strife between Russia and Ukraine has taken a heavy toll on the psychological well-being of Ukrainian youth. The conflict has brought about extensive suffering, tragedy, and trauma, impacting the emotional and mental health of the country’s productive population. Research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that the battle in eastern Ukraine has resulted in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among the children and young population (WHO, 2022). Youth who have undergone traumatic experiences, such as exposure to violence, may struggle with various mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. These conditions can have far-reaching consequences, including difficulties in forming relationships, subpar academic performance, and an increased likelihood of substance abuse and self-harm (Olga Osokina, 2023)

 The war has displaced thousands of families, causing the disintegration of social structures and support networks. Young people who have lost their homes, schools, and communities are more vulnerable to developing mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. The unpredictability and insecurity brought about by the conflict also exacerbate existing stressors, such as poverty, inadequate access to healthcare, and limited educational opportunities (UNICEF, 2023).

Young people residing in war-affected areas face the danger of physical harm and may witness or endure violence and death. The trauma they undergo can have a lasting impact on their mental health and may result in the development of PTSD which can cause symptoms like flashbacks, avoidance behaviours, and intrusive thoughts (Javanbakht, 2022). The conflict has also had an adverse effect on the provision of mental health services. The obliteration of healthcare facilities, shortage of healthcare personnel, and limited access to resources have made it difficult for young people to receive adequate mental health care. In numerous areas, there is a shortage of specialized mental health services for children and young people, resulting in the under recognition and undertreatment of mental health problems (Olga Osokina, 2023).

The Education Ministry of Ukraine reports that since the Russian invasion, more than 1,800 educational institutes and universities have either been damaged or completely demolished. Other educational facilities are being utilized for non-educational purposes by both sides of the conflict, such as serving as information centres, shelters, supply centres, or as military installations. Such destruction of schools and universities has interrupted the education of young people, and many have had to abandon their studies. The lack of educational opportunities can have a negative impact on the mental health of young people, as education is a critical factor in their personal and professional growth.

In order to address the mental health needs of Ukrainian youth, it is essential to implement comprehensive and coordinated mental health programs. These programs should prioritize access to mental health services, including therapy, counselling, and medication. They should also provide education and support for families and communities to promote resilience and recovery. Furthermore, it is essential to invest in education and employment programs to help young people overcome the challenges they face and to support their future success.

Impact of war on the Economic Stability of Ukrainian Youth:

Ukrainian youth have also felt the economic impact of the war, as many have lost family members or breadwinners, leading to poverty and financial difficulties. A report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that around 4.8 million people in Ukraine were directly impacted by the conflict, including many young people who have been unable to find work due to the disruption of the local economy. (ILO, 2022)

The war has disrupted various sectors of the economy, including displacement, destruction of infrastructure, decreased investment, and devaluation of the currency. The repercussions of the war on the financial stability of the youthful population have ominous consequences for their future and demand prompt attention and intervention. Forced migration has hindered the younger generation’s access to education, employment, and healthcare, leading to substantial losses in income and prospects. According to estimates, 12 million individuals have been compelled to leave their homes and are currently displaced (UNHRC., 2022), this displacement has also caused the collapse of social systems (Ivashchenko-Stadnik, 2017) and support networks, making it challenging for young people to secure employment and access basic services. The destruction of infrastructure has interfered with the provision of services and made it challenging for businesses to run smoothly. The disruption of economic activities has resulted in massive job and income losses, affecting the young population and their families. The substantial decline in investment in the country has resulted in a dearth of business prospects and job opportunities. The lack of investment has also caused a scarcity of goods and services, making it challenging for young people to obtain the resources necessary to start businesses or secure jobs. The shortage of economic opportunities has made it difficult for the youthful generation to construct their futures and support themselves and their loved ones.

The war has also had a negative impact on the country’s currency, leading to inflation and a decrease in the purchasing power of young people and their families. The increase in prices of goods and services has made it difficult for young people to access the resources they need to support themselves and their families. The decrease in purchasing power has also made it difficult for young people to invest in their futures, including education and business opportunities (Slaviuk, 2022).

To effectively tackle the economic challenges faced by Ukrainian youth, comprehensive and harmonized economic initiatives must be put in place. These initiatives should give priority to offering education and job prospects, including vocational training, enterprise assistance, and microfinance facilities. Additionally, it is crucial to offer support to families and communities to foster stability and recovery. Furthermore, investing in the country’s infrastructure, such as transportation and communication networks, is key to driving economic growth and creating opportunities for young people.

Impact of war on Social Integration of Ukrainian Youth:

The war has created a divide between those who support the government and those who support the separatists, resulting in a breakdown in social cohesion and increased polarization. The ongoing conflict has also created a culture of fear, particularly for young people who are perceived as being pro-government or pro-separatist. This has made it more difficult for young people to openly express their views and participate in public life, further eroding social integration.

The war has also led to the emergence of volunteer movements, which have played a key role in providing aid to those affected by the conflict and promoting reconciliation. However, the polarization and distrust caused by the conflict have made it more challenging for these groups to bridge the divide and promote social integration (Ivashchenko-Stadnik, 2017). The war has disrupted the social fabric of communities in eastern Ukraine, leading to a breakdown in traditional support systems and causing young people to feel isolated and marginalized. Young people are often the most vulnerable in times of conflict, as they are less likely to have access to support networks and resources to help them cope.

A 2019 study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed that 75% of adult women in Ukraine have suffered from some form of violence since the age of 15, with one in every three women reporting physical sexual violence. There is no dearth of evidence to demonstrate that conflict can worsen existing disparities and create new ones, thereby exposing young women and girls to even more dehumanizing experiences. There have been reports of heinous acts of sexual violence, including rape, torture, and exploitation, since the Russian invasion. Young women have been victims of rape after the murder of their husbands (OHCHR, 2022). This is a calculated tactic aimed at destroying the stability of Ukrainian families, traumatizing women, and instilling feelings of hopelessness and despair.

This can have long-term effects on the social integration and well-being of young individuals and can result in feelings of solitude and a deficit in a sense of community. This can significantly affect their capability to establish connections, participate in society, and realize their full capabilities.


In conclusion, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had a significant impact on Ukrainian youth, disrupting their education, limiting their opportunities, and exposing them to violence and trauma. By advocating for dialogue, participation, intercultural exchange, and youth-led initiatives, to mobilize young Ukrainians toward constructive and peaceful solutions to the conflict. It is crucial that young people are given the opportunity to contribute to peace-building efforts, as they are the future leaders of Ukraine and the ones who will shape the country’s future. The international community can help empower young people to become agents of change and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous future for Ukraine.

(Authors: B.R. Shete & G.V Wamane are both at the School of Public Policy, Dr. Vishwanath Karad MIT World Peace University, Pune, India)


ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy|
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.