A special public event organised by the University of Worcester saw lecturers and students come together to give their insights into the situation in Ukraine.
The panel discussion, held at The Hive, featured experts in the fields of History and Journalism from the University alongside current students from Ukraine and neighbouring Lithuania.
Designed to mark a year since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, panellists explored the present state of the war and prospects for a resolution, the role of propaganda, how to ensure we get accurate news, how the conflict is seen in Lithuania, sanctions and what can be done to support Ukraine in future.
The discussion began with moving video messages from two Ukrainian universities that the University has been twinned with through the UK-Ukraine Twinning initiative - Ternopil Volodymyr Hnatiuk National Pedagogical University and Kremenets Pedagogical Academy - to provide English language tuition and academic support for diversity and inclusion, including some joint seminars with students.
Speaking at the event, Ukrainian student Karyna Bludova, who came to the UK last spring and is in the first year of a Law degree at Worcester, urged people to continue supporting Ukraine by continuing to help with education, sharing news, making donations and volunteering.
She also gave her thoughts on whether the war would be over in the next year. “I think that obviously our President and everyone is hoping for the best,” she said. “You can say that there is a winner in a war, but basically if we’re talking about Ukraine and Russia we will never have a winner, just because if we win now, Russia could do something in the future.” She said from her perspective, since the USSR collapsed in 1991, there had been the feeling in Ukraine that something could happen, but that it would be a long time in the future.
Following the discussion, Karyna added: “I feel it’s really important when people understand what this event is for and they all attend, just because they want to, because they understand, they want to show support. I feel very grateful.”
Lithuanian student, Kristijonas Raibuzis talked about how interest in the conflict in his home country had not waned and Lithuania had donated vast amounts towards Ukraine, despite the country’s small population. He said though times were tough for everyone, the price of one coffee a month could make a big difference. “Even small things are really massive when we all do it,” he said.
The audience also heard from Principal Lecturer in History and Politics, Dr Paddy McNally, who said it was “impossible to say how long this goes on for”. “Most military experts here are not hopeful of a significant breakthrough,” he said. “We hear about tanks being sent from the West. It takes time for all the equipment, the resources, the logistics to follow that and people to be trained.”
Broadcast journalist and Head of Department of Theatre, Film & Media Production, Rachel Ammonds, stressed the importance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continuing to motivate and get his message out, which he had done successfully via social media.