War in Ukraine
Professor Alister Miskimmon, Head of the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen's reflects on the current conflict in Ukraine.
We are witnessing an immense tragedy unfold since the Russian Federation commenced its war on Ukraine. An unprovoked slaughter of Ukrainians, the mass displacement of Ukrainian citizens and the destabilisation of the Ukrainian state are all resulting from Putin’s aggression. Reflecting here on these unfolding events, it is becoming painfully clear how destructive Russia’s actions are for the people of Ukraine, and how they present real and ongoing limitations on hopes of ending enduring divisions in Europe.
I have been involved in research projects on Ukraine funded by the European Union led by my colleague Prof Natalia Chaban of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, bringing together researchers in Ukraine, the Baltic States, the UK and across the EU. Our aim was to understand better how young people in schools, universities and public life in Ukraine understood the challenges facing them and how they speak about their desired futures.
Overwhelmingly they displayed considerable pragmatism. They focused on the steps Ukraine still needed domestically to take to reinforce its political, economic and legal system. For some time, Ukraine has been dogged by corruption, hindering the development of the state. Many young people we talked with between 2018-2020 spoke of their desire to one day in the future join the European Union when Ukraine could play a full and active role. This longer term and cautious perspective of Ukraine’s possible EU and NATO membership was reflected in interviews we carried out with officials in Brussels and the Baltic states as well as with elites in Kyiv.
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Article originally appeared on the website of the George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast.