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International Studies webinar gives multiple perspectives on Russia-Ukraine war

International Studies webinar gives multiple perspectives on Russia-Ukraine war

International Studies webinar gives multiple perspectives on Russia-Ukraine war
March 31
00:57 2022

The university’s Department of International Studies held a webinar Tuesday about the Russia-Ukraine war, featuring prominent speakers from around the world as well as within the university’s own departments.

The event was moderated by Nancy Stockdale, director of the International Studies department. The talk featured four different contributors, all coming from a variety of backgrounds to provide context on the conflict with diverse perspectives.

The first of the speakers was Marta Havyrshko, a professor at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She spoke on the specific harms the war has had on women and children, as well the common effects that refugee crises and war in general have on women. Havryshko’s presentation focused on what women in Ukraine have been experiencing since the conflict began. She showed photos of women’s battalions crafting supplies for frontline soldiers, and a picture of a leaflet given out to Ukrainian refugees warning them of human trafficking and exploitation that occurs at increased levels among refugees.

Havryshko herself is Ukrainian and was calling in from Hamburg, Germany, where she has been staying since fleeing Lviv with her 9-year-old son. During the webinar, Havryshko had an emotional moment where she stumbled over her words after receiving a notification from her loved ones in Ukraine confirming they were safe.

Two Department of History professors, Olga Velikanova and Vojin Majstorovic, also gave insight into Vladimir Putin’s justification for war and the historical context for the conflict, respectively. Velikanova has published five books on Russian History and lived in Russia until Putin was elected, after which she left due to his history as an agent of the KGB, the former Russian secret police and intelligence agency. Majstorovic is an associate professor who specializes in Soviet history during World War II.

“I believe professionals and also journalists, media people, can contribute to the resolution of this terrible, terrible situation by bringing our very well-funded opinions to the people to compete with inadequate information that circulates in the media space,” Velikanova said. “So, I appreciate this opportunity to contribute to this big mission [of] informing the public.”

Greek freelance photojournalist Nick Paleologos finished out the presentation portion by displaying pictures from the Poland-Ukraine border. Paleologos noted that the Russia-Ukraine war is “the most covered war in history,” and warned that while it is very important to have the world know what is happening, people must also be careful not to desensitize themselves to the horrors of war.

“I think we need to open a conversation at some point on what we are feeding our kids,” Paleologos said. “All these generally dangerously, ugly pictures. We need to know what’s going on, what’s happening, but at some point we don’t need to question our sanity.”

Paleologos said that seeing previous refugee crises initially made him hesitate to go to Poland, but he was relieved to find that the Polish were “acting fast” and giving the Ukrainians the care they needed.

“I hope I will never have to cover anything like that again, but I will, and all we have to do is communicate that by any means necessary,” Paleologos said.

The webinar ended with a question portion, where students were given the chance to ask the speakers about their opinions on the conflict and give insight into specific circumstances. Many of the questions circulated around the reactions other nations may have regarding the conflict.

“You know, I’m a Middle East historian, and people often ask me to prognosticate about [the social ramifications of the conflict in Europe] and I really can’t,” Stockdale said. “So, I think that the ultimate answer to this question is that we just don’t know.”

Featured Illustration By Erika Sevilla

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Ayden Runnels

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