From Ukraine to Waco, a Baylor professor spreads his story and expertise on the Ukrainian-Russian War.
Dr. Serigy Kudelia, associate professor of Political Science, shares his connections and expertise on the ongoing international conflict through his series of lectures at Baylor.
Kudelia said he decided to hold a series of four lectures, open to the Baylor community throughout the fall 2022 semester, to do his part in spreading accurate information. Additionally, he is teaching a class on contemporary Ukraine this semester, which is offered within the Political Science degree program.
“In general, compared to other universities in the United States and in Europe, where I lived for 6 months when the war began, they all made explicit statements against the war condemning the invasion, and took steps to provide support for Ukrainian students and scholars,” Kudelia said. “At UT, they brought 1,000 scholars for a year-long scholarship to work, and the same thing happened at Texas A&M for students. In our case, we organized big events on Ukraine in March, but that was it. There were no public statements and most importantly there were no tangible steps to show any type of solidarity with Ukrainian scholars or students here.”
Kudelia said he cares deeply about spreading awareness of the war because he is from Ukraine and has family and friends living there. Kudelia is from Western Ukraine, which has stronger ties to the resistance against Russian power and hold stronger Ukrainian nationalistic ideals.
“In 30 years of Ukraine independence, our society largely lived in peace, and even though we understood that Russia is a rival state that sometimes attempts to influence the development in our country, I think in general very few people believed that we would have a full-scale war,” he said. “So when the first instance of the conflict began in 2014, specifically in Eastern Ukraine, many people viewed that this would be a limited type of military engagement, primarily because for many Russians were viewed as people who were close to us culturally and historically.”
Kudelia said his mother refuses to leave Ukraine even with the war ongoing and a cold winter approaching. Despite the fighting itself, Ukraine now also faces an energy crisis due to the lack of coal and natural gas imports entering the country.
“My mother, who lives in Lviv, since she returned in September, there was a series of attacks in the city, where she was describing waking up in the night with trembling windows and seeing smoke in the horizon,” he said. “For us, this is unimaginable to live in conditions like this being bombarded, but the interesting thing is, people adjust to the new realities quickly.”
Kudelia also explained the multiple long-term effects of Russia’s war, including fewer jobs, family divisions, many educated Ukrainians deciding not to return after leaving, a collapsing economy, and lack of energy.
“You have a large population of the older people who are staying behind and a large section of males because they cannot leave the country, so you have these divided families that I believe will be a problem in the future with this demographic crisis,” Kudelia said. “The main safety concern is that it’s not clear how far Russia will go as far as what types of weapons they will use in the future, but for the majority of Ukrainians the main concern is the ability to have access to some basic goods, like electricity, power, and food. Prices have been going up and the economic consequences of the war have been really tough on Ukrainians.”
He explained that the type of weather experienced during the US winter storms of 2021 and 2022, which left many without power for days and resulted in several deaths, is what the people of Ukraine are experiencing around the clock. This encourages him to continue to teach the Baylor community about the conflict so that he can do his part to spread awareness.
“We still remember this as the most horrible and difficult period of time, but that was just three days– here we are talking about many months,” Kudelia said. “The entire three months of winter are like our three days in Texas. The most unimaginable part is the cruelty of the Russian leadership that openly declares that this is their goal to leave Ukrainian society without basic goods such as heat.”