About a dozen community members hosted a small vigil Thursday evening on the Diag in support of Ukrainian sovereignty after recent Russian aggression against the country.
According to the Associated Press, the Russian coast guard seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crew in the Sea of Azov on Sunday. Ukrainian officials say Russia is in violation of a 2003 treaty that designates the Kerch Strait, located between the disputed territory of Crimea and Russia, and the Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters. They also say Ukrainian ships have been blocked from accessing the sea.
Eugene Bondarenko, a lecturer in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department, said those hosting the vigil were concerned Russia could increase aggressive behavior toward Ukraine.
“We’re very concerned that if this action goes unanswered by the international community that Russia may seek further aggression and aggressive incursion into Ukraine,” Bondarenko said.
Bondarenko explained Ukrainians have had to protest frequently amid the Russian conflict.
“We as Ukrainians have had a lot of cause to protest in the last four or five years,” Bondarenko said. “We’ve gotten good at organizing a protest in 24 hours with something like this.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has imposed martial law in certain areas of the country and requested NATO warships in response to Sunday’s events.
Bondarenko is currently teaching a mini-course on modern Ukraine and said while he has a side to the issue, he presents the material academically.
“One of the points I’ve been driving home about this is I never approach the class in this way, but I do give them certain arguments because I don’t think it matters who makes that argument,” Bondarenko said.

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