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Fullerton College Hosts a Conversation About the War in Ukraine

The Fullerton College Honors Program invited the Assistant Director for Intercultural Learning at Virginia Tech lulia Kononenko Hoban as a guest speaker on March 8 to talk with students and faculty about the current situation in Ukraine, how we can help, and ways to cope with the mental distress this invasion is causing everyone.

She was born in newly independent Ukraine and grew up under the shadow of Chernobyl and the totalitarian rule of the USSR over her country. The guest speaker event was held on Zoom with fifty participants. A video recording of the Zoom is available on the Fullerton College YouTube channel HERE

Jodi Balma, Political Science Professor and Honors Coordinator, started off the event with a brief presentation about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia to give the participants an overview. Dr. Gilbert J. Contreras, Interim President of Fullerton College, also joined the meeting to thank Dr. Hoban for her presence. Dr. Contreras talked about the importance of becoming a support system for each other and speaking up against the war in Ukraine.

According to Dr. Hoban, there are multiple layers of the current situation in Ukraine, depending on the location within the country that Ukrainians reside in. The first layer involves the areas being shelled; they need humanitarian corridors to allow refugees to leave. The general concern of survival is a top priority. The second layer concerns those who are safe but worried about their family and friends who are in dangerous positions. The last layer revolves around the concern of their future—is there a future for the nation and the country?

Dr. Hoban shed light on the generational trauma that exists in Ukraine and the constant threat of the Russian invasion since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ukraine has seen two famines, World War II, a nuclear disaster, and two revolutions in the past century. This generational trauma and the fear that losing this war means losing sovereignty fuels the strong resistance.

Dr. Hoban said she is currently hoping for the best, but expecting the worse for Ukraine. The response from the world compared to the 2014 Invasion of Crimea is certainly much stronger and so is the acceptance of refugees in Europe. When asked about what Ukraine needs right now, she said, “More military support…. If Ukraine doesn’t continually receive military support, then they will be erased…”

Professor Jodi Balma also emphasized that we need to see the same response to every act of imperial aggression around the world, not just in Europe.

The conversation turned toward mental health and Dr. Hoban shared how she is coping with the situation. She’s focusing on providing help and support in whatever ways she can in order to help Ukrainians. Instead of following the news continuously, she’s choosing to focus on actions she can take to help refugees and those people stuck in the country. Professor Balma and her students shared a resource guide for anyone who wants to understand the conflict better and find out where to donate here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v5ENPiLa0hpOtJIDRWjtzNBc3KBnRFjLvmbC20M7h_Q/edit?usp=sharing

For her closing statement, Dr. Hoban said that a possible solution to this conflict would start with a ceasefire and then a diplomatic way to save Ukrainian sovereignty while allowing Putin to save face on the international stage. Her hope is that in a year from today, March of 2023, she would want to visit Kyiv again and for all of it to still be standing without fear, and with joy.

6 replies »

  1. At the end of 1990s Putin became the leader of Russia by staging his first KGB style military operation – bombing Moscow apartment buildings to gain popularity and re-start the war in Chechnya. Putin killed his own innocent civilians, hundreds of Russians in order to boost his popularity and gather more war support. The US, EU and NATO should have seen his true face then, but decided to ignore Putin’s Chechnya war crimes and welcomed Putin to red carpet meetings and Bush even declared his trust in Putin. This further emboldened Putin who had suppressed all democratic processes internally in Russia and has successfully become a dictator and tyrant.

    Putin’s first test run to settle his political goals with military adventures and military operations was in Georgia in 2008. In August 2008 Putin attacked Georgia’s Samachablo and Abkhazian regions and successfully annexed territories of a sovereign country. What did the US and EU do? Obama administration decided to do reset policy with Russia – greatest mistake of President Obama and Angela Merkel, who kept closest relations with Putin and did not want to upset Putin. Russia was not even hit with bare minimum of sanctions for conquering Georgia’s two regions.

    This further encouraged Putin to find more military solutions to his political issues and goals. As Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili said “Ukraine, Crimea will be the next!” the EU leaders laughed at him. In 2014 the new reality sets in – Putin did order and conquered Crimea and Eastern Ukrainian regions. At that time the Obama administration and Angela Merkel received first reality check from Putin, but they made the second greatest mistake with Putin: They set bare minimum of sanctions, did not punish Putin for violating the international laws and let him get away again!

    This has turned Putin into a strong dictator backed by US dollars and EU Euros for the Russian energy exports (oil & gas), with more money going $$$ in his pockets as the crude oil prices went up, Putin was able to order more military adventures to settle his political objectives. In Syria Putin had committed number of atrocities against civilians and used chemical weapons. What consequences did he face? Absolutely nothing, verbal condemnation by the international community.

    And now we are in 2022. Post WW2, this is the third time (after Georgia in 2008, Ukraine 2014) Putin had ordered massive invasion and the war of conquest of a sovereign country. Suddenly the world woke up to new reality. However, the reality was established during the 1990s when Putin planned and executed the Moscow apartment bombings, the US/EU/NATO decided to ignore the warning signs and tried to welcome Putin into the international community.

    What is happening now in Ukraine should be the wake up call to the entire world. The post World War 2 international system & the world order has been shattered to pieces and international law had been completely ignored without any consequences by Putin again and again.

    What Ukraine needs is the world to come to terms with reality: Putin has to be defeated and the establishment/elite power structure of the Kremlin has to change. Before this happens, the Ukrainian military MUST receive all necessary lethal defensive and offensive weapons as well.

    The Ukrainians need to have anti-air capability to shoot down incoming missiles and airplanes from much higher altitudes, so the S-300/S-400 systems will be much welcome, however this is not enough. The Ukrainian army needs those MIG29s to enforce its own No Fly Zone, since the western powers are too scared to face Putin over even a limited No Fly Zone over humanitarian corridor. So lets give this power to the Ukrainians?

    What the Ukrainian side needs is Patriot missile systems as well and anti-artillery systems: radars, locators and smart artillery systems from the US.

    The above-mentioned weapons systems would have an immediate impact on the ground and will change the formula on the ground by giving Ukrainians much needed upper hand to control the air and protect the civilians from the #1 major killers: incoming artillery shells and missiles.

    Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine!

  2. Thank you very much for covering this very important program and thereby making access to it more widely available. I am grateful for having viewed it.

  3. Thank you for a great discussion and link to resources for how we, the ordinary people of the US, can help the Ukrainian people.

    • Jodi Balma
      Thank you so much for this very important program that you researched, put on, and facilitated along with your students. We all benefit so much from your work

      Can you please let me know how I can access the resource page that was mentioned and highlighted in the program? Thank you.

      • I just realized that the link to resources is included in this article. Thank you, Fullerton Observer, for that also.