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A Ukrainian in Lawrence and a Kansan in Kyiv the last time Russia invaded Ukraine

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A large crowd of protesters wearing heavy winter coats carry Ukranian flags and one person hold a sign that reads "No War" in the front center of the growd.
Darko Vojinovic
Crimean Tatars shout slogans and hold banner which reads: "No War" during the pro-Ukraine rally in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Monday, March 10, 2014.

In 2014, a Ukrainian professor at the University of Kansas and a KU graduate in Kyiv spoke with Steve Kraske as Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Eight years ago, Vladimir Putin wanted to bring Crimea back under Russian control and launched a campaign of propaganda and armed actions to make it happen.

At that time, Vitaly Chernetsky was an associate professor at the University of Kansas having come to the United States from Odessa, Ukraine for his doctorate and to teach.

In a 2014 interview with Up To Date, Chernetsky said based on his conversations with family and friends at home, "only a very small insignificant minority of the population actually strongly wants a reunification with Russia."

As the professor was watching from America, Mickey Cesar was teaching English in Kyiv, Ukraine, after completing his master's degree at the University of Kansas.

Cesar told Up To Date in 2014, "The Kremlin would have to be insane to try and take the entire country . . . It would be untenable for any Russian commander to think that they could take and hold this country without years of bloodshed."

Chernetsky, however, voiced a prescient concern: "A lot of people in Ukraine are really worried, indeed, that the Putin government's appetite might not stop with Crimea."

  • Vitaly Chernetksy, associate professor, Department of Slavic languages and literatures, University of Kansas
  • Mickey Cesar, American poet and teacher living in Kyiv, Ukraine
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