About this Episode
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been described as a “a crime against peace” and “Europe’s Darkest Hour” since World War II. It is an attack that is sure to restructure the international order along with the lives of all Ukrainian citizens. Our panelists assist us in understanding these tragic and world-changing events.
This webinar addresses the following questions:
Why has Russia invaded and why now?
How have Ukrainians responded to the threat of war and to the pressures from Russia over the years?
What role does Russian and Ukrainian nationalism play in this crisis?
What are long-term patterns of Russian-Ukrainian relations?
What should the rest of the world do in the world do in the face of this crisis?
• Angela Brintlinger (Moderator), Director, Center for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, The Ohio State University
• Shawn Conroy, PhD Candidate, History, The Ohio State University
• Marianna Klochko, Associate Professor of Sociology, The Ohio State University
• Philip Kopatz, Graduate Student, Center for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, The Ohio State University
• Myroslava Mudrak, Professor Emeritus, Department of History of Art, The Ohio State University
• Mykyta Tyshchenko, Graduate Student, Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, The Ohio State University
Angela Brintlinger: Hello, and welcome to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine brought to you by the Center for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Goldberg Center for Teaching Excellence at the Ohio State University. My name is Angela Brintlinger. I'm director of the Center for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies and also interim department chair at the Department of Slavic and Eastern European Studies at the Ohio State University where I’m also a professor of Slavic, mostly Russian, literature and culture. I’ll be your host and moderator today. Thank you so much for joining us. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been described as a crime against peace, Europe’s darkest hour since World War II. It is an attack that is sure to restructure the international order, along with the lives of citizens in Ukraine and across the region. Why has Russia invaded and why now how have Ukrainians responded to the threat of war and to the pressures from Russia over the years? What role does Ukrainian and Russian nationalism play in this crisis? What are the long-term patterns of Russian Ukrainian relations and what should the rest of the world do in the face of these actions? Today we bring together four experts on the region to help us understand. Five experts sorry today we bring together five experts on the region to help us understand these tragic and world changing events. Let's take a moment to get to know our panelists.
First Shawn Conroy, PhD candidate in history, at Ohio State University. Shawn has been planning archival research in Ukraine for some time for his dissertation on Ukrainian history. COVID and current events have derailed him somewhat and he's back in the States now.
Marianna Klochko, associate professor of psychology sociology at the Ohio State University. Marianna is a Ukrainian American and the President of the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio.
Philip Kopatz is a graduate fellow at Ohio State specializing in Ukraine. He writes Ukraine Unlocked a weekly newsletter about the cultural, political and economic developments in the country.
Myroslava Mudrak is Professor Emeritus from the Department of History of Art at the Ohio State University and also a Ukrainian American. Myroslava has conducted research and written extensively about Ukrainian art and culture.
Mykyta Tyshchenko is a graduate student in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University. A native of Ukraine, Mykyta teaches Russian language and has recently defended an MA paper on the representation of war in Ukrainian film.
With that introduction, let me lay out the plan. We’ll spend our time together answering questions about the invasion of Ukraine that you the audience have submitted to us. We received an enormous number of questions at registration. And we will start by working our way through those. If you're interested in asking a question now, please type it into the Q & A function at the bottom of your screen. We will do our best to answer as many questions as we can during the hour we have. Now let's begin.
First, I want to start with Marianna. How have Ukrainians responded to the current invasion, to the threat of war and the pressure from Russia over the years?
Marianna Klochko: Well, the Russian invasion started in 2014 really, so it's been going on for the last eight years. It's one of the last invasions, not that the Russia didn't try to take over Ukraine before in the past. But this time, just like in 2014, Ukrainians responded bravely. They're willing to fight. The latest sociological survey of population, as accurate as one can conduct this kind of sociological survey at this time, suggests that 70% of the population, believes in victory and 91% of the population supports the President, which for a democratic country it's quite unprecedented for a leader of the country to have that much support. So, there's definitely hope for the best, but at the same time, we need to acknowledge that the losses have been quite difficult, quite tragic. The people are losing their lives, but they stay resolved and there they will be fighting to the end.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you. Shawn, what are your contacts in Ukraine saying? I know you just returned from there recently. What types of communication are possible among Ukrainians and between Ukrainians and the rest of the world?
Shawn Conroy: So, my host family that I lived with, I’ve been contacting them still through Facebook messenger. They are safe and sound. They're no longer in their apartments. They did not give a precise location, but on all likelihood, they are probably in the subway system which is the safest spot from artillery strikes. A lot of these subway systems were built in the Soviet period to withstand nuclear strikes, so they are deep underground, and they are the most secure place, at least in the capital Kyiv. So, but as so far, communication is still open. Internet is still working. So, Ukrainians are able to communicate with each other through the Internet, through their social media and whatnot.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you, thank you. How does this moment differ from the past eight years of military action in the independent republics and on the edges of Ukraine?
Mykyta Tyshchenko: Well, it goes without saying that it's a lot more intense. And what differs this time is that formerly we saw an attempt to take over the regions that are mostly Russian speaking for an ethnically or Russian strike. We were talking about the East of Ukraine or southeast of Ukraine. Last Thursday, multiple locations in Ukraine were affected by the conflict and places in the west of Ukraine, very Ukrainian speaking, was targeted and bombed as well. So, we're facing an invasion that is not necessarily based on liberating the Russian speakers like it used to be in 2014. Right. When the mission started as “setting the Russians of Ukraine free.” Now it affects the whole country.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you. Yes, it's really that I think that probably is the way it feels. It was around the edges and now for us it's a full-fledged air assault and invasion. Myroslava, where are Ukrainians looking for help in the global community? What do they expect may happen?
Myroslava Mudrak: Well, there are various arenas where help is being sought. Given that I have a lot of contact with academics and the intellectual world, I think the main thing that is important to note there is that there are people with influence outside of Ukraine, but also in Russia who could take a stand. People who have a following, people have talent, who are world-renowned, who could take a stand. I think it's very important well the support that we're that we see is unprecedented, but it could easily die as the news turns to other things. But it's very important to keep this subject alive, because as you said in your opening, the Russian people are also suffering and they're suffering from misinformation. And the more that we can deliver the truth about what is happening in Ukraine, the closer we can get to a civilization that deserves to exist on this globe. And right now, we are on the edge of savagery, it’s barbarism and it's an isolation of the Russian people that really should not be. So, I think anybody who has any kind of following whether they’re sports figures, dancers, opera singers, musicians, anybody who has a wide following, they should really actively get involved in telling the truth about what is happening in Ukraine.
Angela Brintlinger: What this is so, for me, as a very active observer of things in Russia and Ukraine, and someone who has friends and contacts in both places, everyone I hear says this is a catastrophe and the Russian people also believe this is a catastrophe in many cases, because they don't see what the end game is, what happens next. And so, I guess, I want to ask Philip I don't know if you have any insights into this question, what could Russia want from this war? What could be that end game that, or at least the endgame that Putin has in mind?
Philip Kopatz: Well, you know I think Putin views Russia as the Center of the Slavic world, and so the goal of recapturing the great influence that the Soviet Union had would surely be one of his goals. So, at the very least, removing the regime in Ukraine currently, the Zelensky regime, and placing in a regime that's more sympathetic to himself. I think another goal would be to make Ukraine enforce the Minsk agreements of 2015. That started an armistice but haven't been really enforced, because then Donetsk and Luhansk would be accepted back into Ukraine with special autonomy and they could veto any movement for Ukraine to join NATO or the European Union. So, Putin could retain influence over Ukraine without directly controlling them.
Angela Brintlinger: Right, I think, actually understanding the Minsk Accords, we're already getting a little bit into the weeds. But the Minsk accords come up and they're really very important. Because some Russians will say, well, if Ukraine just follows the Minsk Accords, then we wouldn't be here. Shawn, what do you think about those Accords? And about why Russia is still insisting on them, and why Ukraine is not willing to consider them?
Shawn Conroy: So just real quick, the most recent version of those Accords, Minsk Two, was a product, it was after Russia had directly intervened and the Russo Ukrainian war. This was January 2015. There was a major battle at Debaltseve and Russian forces basically forced Ukraine into negotiations if you can call them that. And so the current Minsk agreement is the product of basically a Russian route of Ukrainian forces back in 2015. And so, the Treaty as it stands, or the Minsk agreement as it stands Russia interprets it differently than Ukraine does. Russia basically says we are going to let these rebel forces remain in eastern Ukraine. They will then rejoin Ukraine, and then we can talk about some type of political reforms. Whereas Ukraine sees the opposite, says get rid of these rebels with guns, take their guns away, take their all their cannons and weaponry. And then we'll talk about reform, because if you have armed rebels and you're talking about reform it's understandably the Ukrainians are not agreeing to that interpretation.
Angela Brintlinger: It got very confusing there, didn't it? As to who is harming whom and who is acting. And that's been true since 2014. This idea of rebels in many cases it's not rebels at all. So that is really an important and complicated issue on the border there of Ukraine. But I want to go to a couple of questions that are coming in from our viewers right now. Steve Rising asks to what extent do the Russian speaking population of Ukraine want to be liberated by Russia? That's a really important question for us to address because that's the party line coming out of Russia. Myroslava, what do you know about this, about this Russian speaking population? To what extent does do they want to be Ukrainian?
Myroslava Mudrak: Well, this is a long, long and enduring issue. First of all, during the entire, well from the time of the Russian empire, the Ukrainian language was banned so Russian became the lingua Franca of the Ukrainian territories under the Czars. During the Soviet period the mingling of populations, the movement of populations from one Republic to the next, introduced more Russian and strengthening the idea of the lingua Franca, Russian being the lingua Franca. During the Holodomor when there was the, when Stalin instigated a genocide by famine in eastern Ukraine and the population was totally decimated. Russians came in to live in those villages. They were Russian speaking, obviously, and their descendants have continued to live there. And so they see themselves as Ukrainians, but their language is Russian so it's not an issue of defending ethnicity and it's not an issue of defending roots. I's a pretext to create a divide among people. Just recently, I was watching the evacuation from ____ busloads of people being taken from the _______ across the border to Rostov to Russia. Because that's when Putin was beginning, is was the beginning his strike. And one woman said look, you know, we are all neighbors. We are all family. Russian people are good. It's not about the language at all, but it has become a linguistic issue with this invasion. And even people who would normally speak Russian are beginning to speak Ukrainian just to demonstrate that they do not need to be saved and that they are part of a nation that lives on this territory that needs no assistance whatsoever from a dictator.
Angela Brintlinger: Right, that I think is really important for us to emphasize that. That there are Russian speaking Ukrainian citizens and Ukrainian speaking Ukrainian citizens and some of them are ethnically Russians. Some of them are Ukrainian. Some of them are ethnically other things. It really doesn't matter. They are citizens of the country. Shawn you wanted to add something? “Ask the Irish if they're pro English because they speak English.” So and you'll get your answer right there and I think it's a similar situation with the Russian speaking Ukrainians. Just because they speak Russian does not mean that they are for Russia as a country.
Angela Brintlinger: Exactly. Thank you for that. I think that's a really great analogy. A lot of people are using that Irish analogy. I think it really helps. Philip, you had your hand up.
Philip Kopatz: Yeah, I just wanted to add that, you know, I have a lot of friends in Hartke, which is a large Russian speaking city in eastern Ukraine. And you know, all of them speak Russian as their native language. But they view themselves as Ukrainians. They view Ukraine as a multilingual country. And they believe that the language you speak, does not, is not representative of your culture. You know, they can speak Russian and still be a dedicated patriotic Ukrainian.
Angela Brintlinger: Yeah, I heard something from Kharkiv that somebody's saying, you know, some of us speak Russian. Some of us speak Ukrainian. What we're united by our is our citizenship and our anger at what's going on. Marianna?
Marianna Klochko: And I think this is kind of a universal theme that we're seeing, and I myself was from Kharkiv. So I grew up surrounded by Russian language being everywhere. Most of the people I know in Kharkiv speak Russian. And yet, after Russia had continued its massive invasion and started shelling the cities, and currently I'm hearing the latest in case if, if the audience's interest, I'm hearing reports of people losing their limbs, and constant shelling to the point where there are dead bodies in the street and there's no ability to move those dead bodies away because the shelling is so intense. And so of all the people that I know in Kharkiv right now who do speak Russian, but they see themselves as Ukrainian and they're shifting to speak in Ukraine as much as they can just like Myroslava had suggested before, and that the single person is now thinking if they even ever thought of Russians as as friends and neighbors. And there's this first day of, of the war shelling on Thursday. A lot of people were in disbelief, even the days before I was speaking to my uncle, and he would say, “Oh, there's no way. He's just rattling the saber. There is no way they would go that far.” And then when the shelling started, whatever illusions people might have had, I think those illusions are not there anymore, whatsoever. Angela Brintlinger: Thank you for that. So we have a question. I had a question earlier in the hour here from Edward Hobbs who wondered whether Putin is fearful of a stable democratic Ukraine on his border more than Ukraine joining NATO. So a democratic Ukraine would pose a threat to his autocratic control of Russia. Of course, NATO is a big part of this Mykyta maybe you have some insight into this question?
Mykyta Tyshchenko: Yes, yes, I do, I do think that Ukraine’s democracy and the event of 2014 when we got to overthrow the government to get rid of the pro-Russian President that no longer listened to the nation was very threatening him, to Putin. Because he does have an army to fight with NATO right? That the military presence and the nuclear weaponry is strong enough not to be afraid of NATO in case he needs to protect. And also, there are other NATO countries that are members of the NATO that border Russian right? We talked about Lithuania and Estonia. They’re members already, and now, Finland is considering, too. But the democracy that is possible in a Slavic and partly Russian speaking country is a threat to every, to the image that has been building at that point for 14 years now, for 22 years. And also the image now of a young and less experienced politician who is successful in his endeavors in all of them.
Angela Brintlinger: I was in Russia when he was elected, and my Russian friends said to me, Oh, if Ukraine was strong enough to elect Zelensky, maybe we could do that someday. Maybe we could Russians could be brave enough to somehow elect a Democratic leader. So one of our questions from the audience is, do you think there's a chance that this war will lead to a coup against Putin and Russia? And what would that mean? I don't want to be totally distracted by Putin, but it's a really good question, um, who is interested in trying to tackle this one? Maybe, Philip, what do you think?
Philip Kopatz: Yeah. So there, I think there's been enough popular demonstrations throughout Russia. And you know, there's been several high-ranking oligarch celebrities speaking out against the war. I think the Kremlin spokesman's daughter, she posted something on social media a couple days ago saying no to war. So there might be some internal rumblings within Putin's inner circle. So I think the I guess the instability in the country could definitely make Putin's inner circle question committing a coup against him.
Angela Brintlinger: Mykyta?
Mykyta Tyshchenko: And just a brief comment. I don't think that at this stage a coup is a possibility. Because what Philip just mentioned, the addresses of celebrities, and businessmen, they all happen on the internet. And if I'm not mistaken, only 40% of Russian population use Facebook or social media regularly. Most of the news that they get is from television and television is largely controlled by Kremlin. So we're facing a situation where if not a coup, then the presence of the opposition will be a lot more tangible and visible, because people do start questioning the, what they see on the news and what they hear from the official sources, and might get interested in gathering as one political power.
Angela Brintlinger: Yeah. Thank you. Marianna?
Marianna Klochko: And what I was trying to think about is that, of course, ideally, that would be nice to kind of think about the bunker and Hitler in the bunker, and just fast forward to that moment. And that might be really a nice way for Russian elites then to blame everything on Putin, and then give them an opportunity to save face and withdraw the troops and just say, we didn't do anything like this. Unfortunately, though, it seems like as far as the really inner, inner circles, and from what we're hearing, Putin tends to surround, not really talk to too many people and the people who have audience, especially live audience with him, is very limited number. And I suspect what's going on and again, I, you will wish to be a fly on the wall and really see what's going on in those conversations. But it might be one of those echo chambers, where another term for it is a group thing where people get together in small groups and when they perceive the outside reality as if they're surrounded by the enemy. They tend to all fall on one particular solution. And that solution might not necessarily have anything to do with reality or rational thinking. But they all agree with it, and no one dares to speak against it. And it might be the case that if Putin is listening to someone, there's the degree of self-censorship, and no one is willing to say anything to him that would be contrary to his typical way of thinking or decision making.
Angela Brintlinger: But, as we know, Putin has been very isolated during this COVID pandemic so he's been in what some people call it the sanitary ward of his, of his very own bunker. All right, I want to switch a little bit and ask, we have a question here about the Church and the clergy. And I think we're thinking, both inside Ukraine, and perhaps even in Russia or Poland or other neighboring countries. Myroslava, what has the Church and the clergy, the churches and the clergy responded to these events, these most recent events and to the longer eight-year war?
Myroslava Mudrak: Again, any Question about contemporary Ukraine leads to historical questions. And the historical question that we need to focus on here is that the, the church, I'm going to talk about the Orthodox Church. It was under the Moscow Patriarchate until several years ago, once the Ukrainian Patriarchate was founded, you have a division in the population. The Moscow Patriarchate was part of the Russian state, the Russian state system. And when the Russian Orthodox priests gave their homilies, those were political speeches. But we know that the faithful are very devout, and they believe in their fathers, in their clergy, and they will follow instructions like, you know, sheep. And so this posed a great problem for Ukraine. However, with the founding of the Ukrainian Patriarchate, and also with the strength of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, in Kyiv religion has just thrived. Faith, the faithful of, the numbers of faithful have grown immensely. The pride in their own history dating back to their adoption of Christianity from Byzantium is a key issue for identifying as a Ukrainian. And so when Putin tries to rewrite history and claim ______ as the origins of Russia this is all just nonsense because the Ukrainians know where their origin stem from, and it is a religious origin. That was those were the first signs of a civilized state. It was a powerful political state in the 10th century, but religion strengthened it as a culture and strengthen the people as a people, as an as a polity. Maybe I didn't answer the question.
Angela Brintlinger: No, that was really good. I really wanted you to go into kind of the long-term patterns of Russian Ukrainian relations, so this really, you know, one of the things that I think is part of the Russian national myth is that, you know, we are descended from Cuba roots which of course is not true. _________ was growing up parallel and later, significantly later. And when _______ ended up being incorporated into empires, it was the Lithuanian empire and the _________ Commonwealth and and so on, until the _______ in the late 18th Century. Now I’m getting into the weeds so let me back up and ask the historians. Shawn, your hand’s up.
Shawn Conroy: I just wanted to add also Protestantism. Different Protestant churches are very strong in Ukraine. The Baptists have a long history in Ukraine, and were persecuted under the Soviet Union, especially today. Ever since the Soviet collapse, Ukraine gained its independence, Protestantism, especially in southern and eastern Ukraine, has really thrived. And just another difference between Ukrainians and Russians is because Ukraine is in a democratic system. However, however flawed, it is instilling a democratic system. Ukrainians have that freedom of religion, that they can practice without state interference. And, in contrast, in Russia, Protestant churches are regularly harassed. I know of a young man who was studying to be a preacher in Moscow, and they have to receive basically instruction on what happens if you're delivering your sermon and the Russian police do a raid. So just another difference between the two countries and just the richness of how many different religions are in Ukraine and coexist, and all believe, and Judaism as well, Judaism, as has really revived since the end of the Soviet Union. So it's just a very, very rich country and everyone shares the sense that the land that they stand on, they all share and is theirs. It is Ukraine.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you. Yeah. Absolutely the legacy of World War II is still very strong, certainly in the in the Russian Federation, but also in Ukraine. For Ukraine to be attacked like this to be occupied again after so many years, this is very, very difficult for the people of Ukraine. I'm wondering, so we were kind of going back and forth between history and current events and one question that really interests Americans, I think, is what the role of energy plays and the pipelines in causing this war. Mykyta, do you have some insight into energy issues in Ukraine and in Europe?
Mykyta Tyshchenko: Yes, so the gas pipes and Ukraine. So since Ukraine becoming independent in 1991, we've been providing Europe with Russian gas, by transferring it through Ukraine and in the beginning of the century, the prices of gas and the prices of the cost of Ukraine services became a very big political issue that partially led us into the revolution of 2014. But because Ukraine retaliated in 2014 and decided not to incorporate with Russia anymore Russia started investing into various other ways, a lot less for a lot more, demanding money-wise and effort-wise to building pipes around Ukraine, which is extremely difficult and requires so many more agreements, right? Because you don't you just, it's not just not one country that you talk to, it's multiple. So there is a part of, you know, Russia being somewhat offended maybe or hurt by Ukraine’s decision not to provide the services anymore. And now, when we see that Germany and Germany used to be the main strategic partner of Russia, when we talk about export of gas, or just energy in general, Germany's refusing to cooperate. I think that invites more violence, out of despair, in Russia among the Russian Government.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you, Shawn?
Shawn Conroy: I would add that Russia has used energy as a weapon for decades back in the 2000s basically the formula was Russia would decide to artificially hike up its gas prices for Ukraine so Ukraine couldn't pay those hiked up prices. Russia would say okay, you need to, we will lower the prices if you do XY and Z in politics. And say Ukraine does it. But Ukraine still had to pay for all this expensive gas. Ukraine takes all this extra debt. And then, basically, Russia has leverage to say, well we'll take some of your debt away, you have to do some favors for us. So Nord Stream 2 which is in the media a lot, basically Russia's effort to build another pipeline that goes under the Baltic basically to completely go around Ukraine and pipe gas directly into Germany. And basically the strategic aspect of that is that Russia would no longer have to use a pipeline infrastructure that goes through the Ukraine, that goes through Ukraine. So in case of an expanded conflict, as we see with Russia’s invasion now, Russia if Nord Stream 2 had gone online Russia would not have had to worry about say bombing pipeline that it needs to use to sell gas to Western Europe.
Angela Brintlinger: Yeah, yeah, Philip?
Philip Kopatz: I just want to say like in the larger picture of Russia's power, in Europe with its energy, I mean, they provide over 60% of Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Slovakia in natural gas. And that's just to name a few. So then when they want to turn up the political pressure, they turn down the natural gas pressure, or they raise the prices. So as Mykyta said earlier now that these countries like Germany are not cooperating with Russia, I think that there's, yes, more likely for lashing out in despair. That's a good way to put it.
Angela Brintlinger: Well, one of the things that we have not been thinking about since the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise, the rise of gas prices and rise of gas production in Russia, natural production of oil is so that's what the money that Putin has been using to rearm the military. That's the money that they've been coasting on. That's what their economy has been depending on and cutting that off and finding alternatives, even if they're expensive, is going to be a way to have better control over what's happening in relationships with Russia. Mariana?
Marianna Klochko: Also I just wanted to mention the most recent experience was the gas politics. So Zelensky, when he came to power, he started kind of his little war against the oligarchs, the oligarchs specifically that have close ties with Russia, most notably Midwich Chu, who is related multiple ways to Putin and Putin’s regime. And so when he did this, the response was to bump up the prices and start the populations response. And yet, still Zelensky didn’t back down. So we are having to hypothesize here a little bit, but it could be that Putin started to realize and that goes back to why military for the military incursions, why aggression? And why now that he maybe started to realize that what is it about Ukraine? I mean, we've been talking and trying to understand Russia. But I think we also need to understand Ukraine, and what is about Ukraine and its lack of desire to cooperate with Russia, its desire to stand up to Russian demands, and Ukrainian desire to not to back down and to be in charge of its own politics and not to be manipulated and taken hostage of the gas pipeline.
Angela Brintlinger: But this is a really important question that people really need to want to understand, you know, about NATO membership, about whether or not Ukraine is looking west, right? Are Ukrainians kind of Western looking? Do they want to be Europeans? Or are they really happy to be in the middle? You know, what? Myroslava, can you talk a little bit about that idea of Ukraine as part of Europe and part of the West? And maybe bring in NATO if you can, I know it's, some of the stuff is a little arcane.
Myroslava Mudrak: Well, Ukraine, culturally speaking has always been part of the West. If you look back at history. And I think history teaches us a lot and it is what we need to ground our understanding of the present dawn. But from I mentioned, ______, _____ princesses marrying the French king. The relations with Europe, with the kingdoms of Europe, were very close. If we go into later centuries, the introduction of manuscripts, the introduction of writing, the introduction of universities, these are all going parallel. These are developing parallel to Western civilizational values and principles. It's never been a foreign thought. Latin, Greek was always taught in the Mohyla Academy. The even though Ukraine might have its own kind of religious roots in Byzantium, nonetheless, there was a kind of aspiration. And I would say even a bonding with Western values, in terms of what the church in the West was doing in order to strengthen the Catholic faith, for example. So Ukraine has its own kind of reformation movement. Ukraine has its own Baroque movement. As a matter of fact, in the 17th century, the Baroque took on a designation that was Indigenous, I mean, it had Baroque features, as you would see in Rome, or anywhere in Europe, but it was called the ______ Baroque. And it is a marker of a kind of National Style, which the Russians have tried to destroy over and over again, primarily because it was initiated by the ___________ Mazeppa of the famed Battle of Poltava, where Peter the First defeated Mazeppa, and the Swedish king, but after that, Mazeppa was anathematized. But he was able to build churches. He was able to restore the Byzantine culture. He was able to restore education. And it continued that way into the 20th century. We have to skip over the 19th century because under the Russian Empire, there were no opportunities for self-development, for cultural development, no Academies, no press, no English, and no Ukrainian language publications. But come the revolution, come the loss of the Empire, Ukraine again sought independence. And in seeking independence, it modeled itself on the west once again. And we have this huge Renaissance, cultural renaissance in the 1920s that is on a par with the avantgarde of Europe, of Germany, in the very same years. However, it was quashed by Stalin in the ‘30s. And so again, another disruption, another interruption in the general evolutionary cultural flow of Ukraine. Again, I think I've gotten off track.
Angela Brintlinger: No you're absolutely right.
Myroslava Mudrak: It was about Europe.
Angela Brintlinger: Yeah, exactly. And when we think about, you know, we talk in Russian history, we talk about Peter the First, Peter the Great, so called who broke a window through to the west, somewhat violently, perhaps causing Russia to try to turn towards Europe. And Ukraine was already there. Right. And that's one of the things that we need to emphasize. Okay. So I want to, I'm going to wait a minute to talk about the question of how people in Columbus can help. But I don't want to forget, we'll get to that question. It's really important. I know a lot of people want to actively do something, and they're looking to us to get some insights into that. But let's talk about blame a little bit. And, Shawn, I want to ask you this. There are commentators globally who blame this war on the US to some extent, or on Ukraine itself. Can you imagine what the excuses are? What the reasons are for blaming the US here? And are we in some ways at fault?
Shawn Conroy: So the narrative that the US is at fault ties into Russia's perspective. They think that the US is basically behind everything as sort of like controlling Eastern Europe as a puppet, turning Ukrainians against Russians. And basically, this whole Russian narrative that blames the, that talks about the US is, in a way, just ignoring Ukraine from the conversation, because what Russia would like to do is to say, let's just put Ukraine off the table, let's talk the US and Russia, because Russia, especially Putin, is trying to gain prestige. He's trying to present himself and thereby present his vision of Russia as this great state. And he would rather talk directly to the US and hope that the US and European allies could somehow pressure Ukraine into some settlement, where Russia would either reabsorb Ukraine or Russia would partition Ukraine. So this notion that the US is behind everything in a way is part of Putin's effort to engage in talks over Ukraine directly with us.
Angela Brintlinger: But are there other people besides Putin who are blaming the US? I mean, one thing that I'm hearing is that Ukraine, Ukrainians didn't believe the US information being shared by intelligence services, and they were surprised. Certainly, this was a difference between 2014 and now that in 2014, the decision was made not to share the intelligence information that this attack was going to happen. And this time, we did share it. And we did in the end, the British shared it. Anybody have any thoughts on the relationship between those news cycles and the intelligence forces? Marianna?
Marianna Klochko: Not necessarily the new cycle. But I just want to highlight that we're talking about criminal action. And I studied criminals, among other things. And basically, there's this theory that tries to explain how people can engage in criminal action, even though maybe they might have their honor code and how they can make sense of their actions that are going against the law and order how they justify the whole theory that talks about justification. And what's interesting is that Putin's regime and Putin’s government doing step by step, following every parameter of that neutralization theories such as, for example, one of the biggest one is denial of responsibility. And all the arguments about Russia have been pushed into specific action, if United States didn't say, didn't share their intelligence. And well, since you announced that we might as well should go forward. This kind of rhetoric we need to understand is a rhetoric. It's the argument. It is justification of the action to present one action as legitimate, but it is not legitimate. It is criminal. It is just criminals trying to make sense of the action and present themselves in a positive light, that they're, it's not their fault. They also, another argument that's part of that neutralization, is the appeal to higher loyalties where, well, we're here to help to help Ukrainians or we're here to what's the typical argument that lately Putin is using denazification, which is utterly ridiculous, has nothing to do with reality. But all it is, is the argument. It's sending this words out in the ether and trying to get this words bounced around in the global media. And people actually believe in it as if they have a face value. There is no face value to them. This is just justification of the criminal.
Angela Brintlinger: Well, the denazification is a question that we've been getting. Why does, why is this term denazify coming up? Totally want to address that.
Philip Kopatz: I was just going to say, Putin is portraying himself as the victim here. This is a defensive act in his at least in the narrative that he is sharing. He basically said that the Soviet Union made the mistake of appeasing Nazi Germany for too long, and that Russia was not going to make the same mistake with NATO. He thinks that NATO is going to get Ukraine to join and then use it as a springboard to invade Russia. And the denazification, well, he believes that the regime that has been in Kyiv since 2014, is basically backed by NATO and the West, and that basically, it has a Nazi tradition to it, which is unfounded.
Angela Brintlinger: Okay, but this is this use of the word fascist, the claim that Ukrainian nationalists are attacking Russians and are trying to, are engaging in ethnic cleansing. So he’s turning those terms and using those terms, so when we see that unification, we have to remember that there aren't any Nazis, and there's no denazification to be done. It's just the rhetoric of the Russian state. And we have questions. People are quite concerned about why Putin started this war. And one of the questions that people are asking is about the nuclear threats that we're seeing. I don't know that we're, none of us are really military specialists. But this question, would Putin use nuclear weapons? Wouldn’t it be ironic to use them on Ukraine after Chernobyl? Yeah, sure.
Shawn Conroy: I would say just first off, if people saw on the news that Putin ordered, basically the nuclear readiness to be increased, I want to stress that this, Russia has four levels of readiness. And basically, if one is constant, which is just a general state, he raised it to a two. So it's not as if this declaration means that he is about, he has the launch codes and he's about to strike. It just means it's level two out of four. And the second point is that he is using this as intimidation. He is the Russian dissident. Garry Kasparov has famously described Putin as a poker player basically, and that he thrives on bluffing and making it appear as if he is ready to make these actions and that we should not reduce our decision making, we should not reduce what we plan to do based off of these threats. Because he intends to, to declare these things to say the nuclear readiness has been increased, because he wants to intimidate. Because he is a bully. He's a, not to turn it into a schoolyard, but he is a bully.
Angela Brintlinger: What parts are neighboring countries, Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, playing in the current events? Are these neighboring culture countries at all equipped or willing to lend support to either side, to Ukraine or to Russia? And of course, we know this is one of the things that we fear is the next, is this an expansion that if Putin can manage to do something in Ukraine that he'll move into Georgia again, into Moldova, further into Belarus, even more than he's already there? I mean, the problem is that those are the three countries of course where there are, there's a lot of Russian influence.
Myroslava Mudrak: I would like to answer that slightly differently. Then wondering, well, we know these countries are helping because they know they've been under the Soviet system. They know what life is like under the Soviets. But we aside from all these tactics of a megalomaniac, we have to understand what's I think coursing through Putin's mind. Not that I'm a mind reader, but he's shown over and over again that he operates on principles of grandiosity. Russia as a superpower, Russia as the Great Russia, restoring the land, restoring the control over those breakaway republics. Now Ukraine was the second largest Republic in the USSR. And I think it's worth taking note. If you ask the question, why did he invade now? We're in 2022. Right? The USSR was formed in 1922. There would be an occasion for great celebration, should he be able to reintegrate Ukraine back under his control, that would be a celebration beyond celebrations. And he's shown that mood twice, he showed it at the Saatchi games, which was quite a show of all that Russia stands for when it was basically an appropriation of, of cultural values from all the other republics. But and then he invaded Crimea. But he waited until the end of the Beijing Olympics and invaded Ukraine now. I think COVID kind of, you know, blocked a little bit of the showmanship that he would have presented, if possible. But these dates, these are not just happenstance, I think he thinks in those terms, he thinks in big kind of celebratory holiday terms. And part of that celebration is also commemoration of the founding of the Soviet Army and the founding of the Soviet Navy. And what would it have been had he been able, and I hope it'll never happen, had he been able to defeat Ukraine? Imagine what celebration would be had by Putin. I think we have to keep that in mind as well. I mean, it functions as a, as a kind of motive for a person who is out of touch with reality.
Angela Brintlinger: And that's a really good point, that 1922 point that Russian culture loves for Soviet culture, especially but also Russia, culture loves round dates, as we call them. Okay, so, um, do you think that there is a solution through negotiations? This is a really important point. As we finished that first day of negotiating, they're going to negotiate again tomorrow. Do you think that there is a solution? Will they be able to come? No. Mariana says no. Nikita says no. Sean says no. Philip’s very doubtful.
Myroslava Mudrak: I say no, but I say that there is one element of negotiation that should take place, and that is to create a corridor. You asked about the bordering countries to create a corridor for humanitarian help. It should be untouched, it should be sterile, it should not have any activity whatsoever. You need to bring in food. You need to bring in the element of all the elementary things that people need to survive this war, and that should be negotiated, other than that no contracts, no treaties, no capitulation whatsoever. Cannot integrate it.
Angela Brintlinger: I think that, you know, we remember that when with the Georgia invasion, it was short, in 2008. I think that Putin wanted to strike and have everything just be capitulated and have it be over. And we don't know, right? Will the Ukrainian people be able to hold on? And perhaps this is exactly I think is a brilliant idea, this humanitarian corridor, because that is precisely what is happening. As we were watching those of you who are paying attention, we see that refugee organizations are forming. There are Poles on the border with pierogies and hot soup, handing them out to people as they come over. People are fleeing, and they're getting help in other countries. But yes, getting a corridor into Ukraine would be key. Do you have specific things, we'll try to have some resource lists of places that you can send money and help, ways that you can organize? We'll gather those together. Does anybody have anything right now that you want to say because I want to kind of ask our last question. We're coming towards the end here.
Myroslava Mudrak: I'm looking for organizations that would help children. I think we've got again, unfortunately and sadly, another generation of children of war, and they need assistance. And so if there are organizations out there, I can't name anything right now, specifically, I'm doing research on this. But children need assistance immediately, immediately.
Angela Brintlinger: And they're definitely being traumatized. What is that? So here's the final question. I'm sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead, Shawn, I didn't see your hand.
Shawn Conroy: No, go ahead.
Angela Brintlinger: I was going to ask the final question, which is, what is the most important thing about this invasion that you want to make sure all Americans know, one sentence, each of you. What is that most important thing about the invasion that you want to make sure all Americans know, Shawn?
Shawn Conroy: I would say that if you love a good underdog story, Ukraine fighting against Russia right now is a true underdog story, and they need all the help that they can get against Russia.
Angela Brintlinger: Ok. Thank you. Mykyta?
Mykyta Tyshchenko: I would say that it's a lot more universal and global of an issue than just a local. Because if there is a war in Ukraine that will, everyone will pay their price economic, cultural, ethnic whatever political, social. It will touch upon anyone.
Angela Brintlinger: So, then, the refugee crisis is happening again in Europe from a different direction. But you're absolutely right that this is going to touch every aspect of the global economy, culture, history, relationships. Myroslava?
Myroslava Mudrak: I think first and foremost, we need to understand that Ukrainians are a peace-loving nation. They have fought over and over and over again to protect our borders and exist as a peace-loving nation. And I think it would be a tragedy should over this country that is Ukraine, that a country of over 40 million people should be sacrificed for any kind of comfort that Europe would have or the United States. I mean, just because we want lower gas prices, or Germans want to be warm during the winter, Ukraine should not be the sacrificial lamb in this desire.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you, and I just want to say that Ukraine is a big country, and it has a big diaspora. We see it all over the world. We see all supporters of Ukraine. It is a significant country that deserves this chance to really hone the democracy, to really become the part of Europe that it wants to be. We as educators, are very committed to teaching about Europe, about the Russian empire, about Ukraine, about the history, the language, the culture, but I think that we can send that love to Ukraine, send that strength, and send that love and strength, and those passionate commitments that we have to our senators, to our representatives. We have here in Ohio senators and representatives who are very interested in Ukraine, very much focused on making sure that the US does the right thing this time around. So, I want to thank you so much. Did I let everybody have their final word? Philip, you didn't get yours. Okay, let's hear from Philip.
Philip Kopatz: No, I just want, Ukraine is important, and I think I could list off numerous reasons why, but a lot of people think, in economic terms. Ukraine is the second biggest producer and exporter of grains in the world and feeds over 400 million people worldwide. It is crucial to our global food supply chain.
Angela Brintlinger: Thank you. Marianna, one more sentence.
Marianna Klochko: I would like to add to Myroslava’s sentiment in the way that the US administration and the rest of the world have been terribly complacent since at least 2008 with the invasion of Georgia and the invasion of Ukraine. And this unprovoked aggression, it has to be responded to. We cannot be just bystanders spending our thoughts go to green and then do nothing. The time of doing nothing is over. We really need to show the world the leadership that United States is famous for. And if we cannot work together as part of the NATO, we can form against Russian aggression a coalition with other countries who would stand with us, and we should show this leadership and help Ukraine. This is about civilization. This is about democracy, and this is about the world global order, and we need to do something.
Angela Brintlinger: I'm going to let, I'm going to leave it at that. Thank you all so much. Thank you to our audience. I'm grateful to Shawn Conroy and Marianna Klochko, Philip Kopatz, Myroslava Mudrak, and Mykyta Tyshchenko for sharing their time and expertise. Please join me in giving them a virtual round of applause. We would also like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences, especially Maddy Kurma, and Alex Bixley, as well as the Center for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies and the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching for their sponsorship. And once again, thank you, our audience for your excellent questions. I wish we could have gotten to all of them. We really, really appreciate your engagement with this topic, and we will look forward to engaging with you further via email and in other ways. Thank you again for your ongoing connection to Ohio State. Stay safe and healthy. And we'll see you next time.