The Davidsonian

Professors Emphasize that War in Ukraine Continues

By Katherine Marshall ’26 (She/Her), Staff Writer

On the evening of October 18, 2022, around 50 people occupied the Davidson College Alvarez Student Union 900 room for a presentation from Dr. Amanda Ewington (Russian Studies) and Dr. Besir Ceka (Political Science) updating the campus on the war in Ukraine. 

Since February of 2022, Russia and Ukraine have been engaged in a brutal war. Putin’s belief that Ukraine is part of Russia and his strong resistance to Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO were driving factors behind the initial invasion on February 24. 

Tuesday’s update covered the historical context of the war, how it has changed since February, and what it may look like in coming months. Kat Anderson ‘25 attended the update and shared, “you should take advantage of events like these because they’re free, and they’re a learning opportunity, and, especially with things that are this important and only take an hour of your day, why not go learn something?”

Ewington opened the event stating that “Russia is the clear aggressor in this war.” She proceeded to explain that if anyone were to argue differently it would be her, a “Russianist”—someone who has spent her entire life studying and celebrating Russian history and culture and wishes that Russia’s aggression wasn’t true. 

The event gave listeners important historical context. Ewington explained how Putin has framed this war as a fight between “brothers” as he has long ignored Ukraine’s sovereignty. “If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine”, explained Ewington. 

Ewington finished her lecture with some ways to support Ukraine, like using Ukrainian spellings  in place of Russian spellings: Kyiv, instead of Kiev. She also referenced the organization Davidson for Ukraine, which she co-organizes with Motria Procyk, a Davidson local. The organization has provided support and resources for Ukrainian refugees resettled in Davidson. 

Valeriia Kruzhkova (she/her), a first-year international student from Ukraine, shared that she has felt supported on campus, but there is more that Davidson can do.

“I was really glad when I first came to Davidson because I saw a Ukrainian flag next to an American flag. I felt so happy. I would say that I would like to see more events based on the situation. It is really helpful to be updated [. . .] other people, they don’t really know. Updates on the situation would be nice.” 

Valeriia appreciated the historical context given during the briefing. “It is really difficult to talk about the situation from my perspective, but it is really helpful for other people to talk about the future of Ukraine and Russia and how the relationships are going to be in the future, and it is really important to American and non-Amerian Davidson students to know about the situation.”

Dr. Ceka’s lecture focused on the changing nature of the war since February. According to Ceka, Russia has the second largest military in the world, but aid from the west (30 billion dollars from the US alone) coupled with Ukrainian resolve has contributed to a strong defense. 

More recently, Russia targeted civilians in terrorist bombings, which has caused immense devastation. The United States may provide more serious weapons to Ukraine to retaliate, but there is fear of escalation to nuclear war. According to Ceka, the threat of nuclear war is the highest it has been since the Cold War, with a 25% rough (very unsure) estimate. There are various deterrents under consideration to prevent Putin’s use of nuclear arsenal; according to Ceka, it comes down to whether or not “Russia can be convinced that the cost of using nuclear weapons is too high.” 

The event had an overall somber and urgent tone markedly contrasting an earlier event held by Ewington and others in February 2022. According to Ewington, the initial briefing had a tone of “sadness, confusion, and shock” compared to an eagerness at Tuesday’s update “to learn about the history and cultural context and, as I learned afterward from students who wrote to me, they want to take action and help Ukrainian refugees.”

Valeriia’s roommate, Yutika Patel ‘25, also attended the event. She shared that she walked up to one of the professors after the event to thank them because she got so much clarity out of the talk. She shared, “It’s so important just to show up for others and, even if you are going to better your knowledge, it’s your presence at these types of events that means a lot.” 

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