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Christine Metz Howard
KU News Service
785-864-8852

Media advisory: Experts available to comment on Ukraine-Russia relations following plane crash

Fri, 07/18/2014

LAWRENCE – Experts at the University of Kansas can provide insight into the international implications of a Malaysia Airlines plane shot down in eastern Ukraine Thursday.

The Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) offers one of the country’s leading programs in Ukrainian studies, including the study of Ukrainian language and courses on the country’s history, politics and culture. Mariya Omelicheva, director of CREES, and Vitaly Chernetsky, incoming associate director of CREES, can provide context to the historical and escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

Mariya Omelicheva, an associate professor of political science, can speak about the geopolitics of Eastern Europe and Russia’s foreign policy. Omelicheva has published articles on Russia’s relations with Ukraine, Central Asian republics and Georgia in the context of Russia’s relations with the European Union and the United States.

“Moscow’s relations with Ukraine have become something of a hallmark of the new Russian geopolitical logic. Russia’s attempt at projecting its power on Ukraine has become a test and a symbol of Russia’s strategic independence and its ability to stand up to Western and other international pressures, something it has aspired for a long time,” Omelicheva said.

Vitaly Chernetsky, an associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures, can provide insight into the modern and contemporary culture of Ukraine, Russia and the post-Soviet region.

A native of Ukraine, Chernetsky is author of the book “Mapping Postcommunist Cultures: Russia and Ukraine in the Contest of Globalization” and numerous articles on Russia and Ukraine. He is the current president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies and the vice president of the American branch of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the premier Ukrainian learned society established in 1873.

"To understand the current conflict in and around Ukraine, the cultural aspect is crucial,” Chernetsky said. “The sides in the conflict develop messages intended to appeal to domestic and international audiences based on very different, and often complex and contradictory, sets of values ­­– from the role of Orthodox Christianity to the contentious and divisive history of World War II on Ukrainian territory and widely differing interpretations of the Soviet project."

To arrange an interview with Omelicheva or Chernetsky, contact Christine Metz Howard at cmetzhoward@ku.edu or (785)864-8852. 



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