Local Ties to Unrest in Ukraine

Illinois history professor and REEEC faculty affiliate Mark Steinberg was interviewed on Champaign-Urbana’s WICD NewsChannel 15 for a story entitled “Local Ties to Unrest in Ukraine.” This is a re-posting of the transcript of the newscast that was broadcast on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. To view the newscast video and the original transcript on the channel’s website, please see http://www.wicd15.com/news/top-stories/stories/local-ties-unrest-ukraine-9819.shtml.

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CHAMPAIGN– Just 10 days after the fall of the Soviet Union, Masha Trenhaile moved from what would become the nation of Ukraine to the United States. She’s still close with many family and friends still living there. She says, “We are still in each other’s lives, we still participate in each other’s birth of children, weddings, anniversaries, things like that. Every time I get to go back I definitely get together with all of them.”

The tension in the region, after first a political revolution and now a foreign occupation from Russian troops, weighs on her mind. “Although there is not a day to day conflict that happens, that happened before, it is still felt by everyone in the country.”

Unmarked soldiers in Crimea

Unmarked soldiers in Crimea (Image Source)

Ukraine is a nation with many diverse languages, cultures, and histories, which professor of history Mark Steinberg says, makes it so difficult to draw political boundaries. The violence, he says, is a shock to Ukranians. “I think it’s quite terrifying, precisely because there’s no real history of this.”

Steinberg says since 1991, there’s been a relative stability in the diversity of Ukraine. “Everybody’s worried about civil war, and it isn’t so much because Ukraine in recent history has had a history of ethnic violence, the violence that took place in Kiev was a shock to everybody.”

For Masha, her friends, and her family, it’s a situation that appears to have no easy solution. “There’s also some kind of a notion that there’s a much bigger deal brewing and there’s a potential for much larger conflict happening if this were to continue.”

Adam Rife reporting.

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