Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Ukraine Choosing Freedom

Greetings from the ANU Centre for European Studies, where Dr Olesya Khromeychuk, is speaking on Choosing Freedom in Ukraine. In his introduction, His Excellency Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ambassador of Ukraine, praised the role of "citizen ambassadors", to keep his nation in the spotlight.

Dr Khromeychuk related the view from her pre-independence childhood home, with the dismal remains of the soviet system crumbling outside. She later marched in an independence parade on the same street. Dr Khromeychuk then took us back through the history of Ukraine, then forward through multiple protests for independence. This is a useful message for the rest of the world: Ukraine's current struggle is not the first time the Ukrainian people have had to put their lives on the line.

Dr Khromeychuk related how she has her first year history students will draw a map of Europe with the Russian border through the middle of Ukraine. She suggests the mental map of Europeans needs to be redrawn.

Since 2022, ANU has hosted a series of seminars on the Ukraine war. There is very much the sense of history being written as it is happening. Sitting in the front row are ambassadors of nations of eastern europe. At a previous seminar one remarked "We are at war". 

At question time one interesting point was that indepdentent Ukraine should not be referred to as "The Ukraine", as that would indicate it was still part of someone were else. I asked what Australia could do to help. Dr Khromeychuk surprised me by asking for Ukrainian studies, and cultural links, rather than guns and tanks. She made the point that universite are being destroyed. I noticed this has even stopped some Chinese students from studying. The Ambassador thanked Australia for diplomatic and material support. He pointed out they are in the middle of winter and need more coal, but did not mention tanks. He said he was also keen on academic exchanges.

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