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Community Explores Ukraine Crisis

Elaine Loft
In an impromptu lunch-time forum assembled and moderated by Director of Global Education, Dr. Brandon Gauthier, nearly thirty students, faculty, and staff gathered to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
Gauthier began with a short history of Russia post-WWII, so participants could understand the trajectory of a nation whose history as a unified state began in the year 862. In particular, Gauthier noted the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1988-1991), which Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited as “one of the greatest tragedies of the 21st Century.” Gauthier also gave a short primer on NATO, specifically citing member nations that border Russia (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Putin has pointed to the increasing number of NATO nations as one of the greatest threats to the sovereignty of Russia and has specifically demanded that Ukraine not be permitted to become a member of NATO.

Next, Gauthier posed the following three questions, and urged the audience to “talk with your neighbors.”
  • Should Russia be able to stipulate that Ukraine cannot join NATO?
    If you were the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, what would you say to President Putin?
  • What should the U.S. do now that Russia has carried forth an invasion of Ukraine?
  • A lively discussion followed, with Gauthier pushing the participants to share their responses to each of the questions. 
To add further context, Gauthier shared video clips of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, telling a reporter what he would say to Russian President Vladimir Putin (“mind your own business”), and of the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, emotionally confronting his Russian counterpart, Vasily Alekseevich Nebenzya, after Nebenzya said: "This isn't called a war, this is called a special military operation in Donbas."

At the end of the 40-minute lunch period, Gauthier somberly noted the citizens of Ukraine were under siege, vastly outnumbered, and, at the moment, alone in their fight. “A real war is now occurring in real-time.”
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