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Ukrainian professor in Oshkosh hopes visit can help end war in Ukraine

Posted at 7:37 PM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 20:37:22-05

OSHKOSH — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy headed back home Thursday after his address to congress, but local Ukrainian professor Oksana Katsanivska thinks his visit could help bring an end to the war in Ukraine.

"I do hope it start will a new stage...the last part before victory," she said.

Katsanivska was born and raised in Ukraine and lived there with her husband and two young children until shortly after the Russian invasion in February. After about a week of staying underground to keep safe from possible Russian attack, she decided it was time for her and her family to flee the country.

"I didn't like the influence of sleeping in the basement on my kids...I didn’t want my kids to be children of the war," she said.

She fled with her family to Italy, and got in contact with Dr. Jordan Karsten who chairs the Anthropology department at UWO. The two had previously worked together on Karsten's trips to Ukraine, and Karsten was able to convince the University to bring her on as a professor of Ukrainian literature and other subjects.

Katsanivska say's she's been impressed with the Ukrainian president's leadership during the war, noting that he prefaced his trip to Washington with a visit to Bakhmut, a center of fighting in Ukraine's hotly-contested Donbas region. "I'm glad Zelenskyy is president," she said.

Katsanivska said the standout moment of Zelenskyy's visit, was his plea for American Patriot Missile Systems.

She explained that these weapons are considered crucial to protecting damaged infrastructure and keeping Ukrainian families safe from Russian attacks.

“ [Zelenskyy] said that it would be much easier for Ukrainian soldiers to fight on the battle field if they know their families are safe at home…and for that, we need Patriots,” said Katsanivska.

For Karsten, Zelenskyy's speech was a good reminder to Americans of Ukraine's resolve in the midst of hardship and illuminated the financial cost of the fight.

“As Zelensky himself said in his speech," Karsten said, "it’s not charity we’re giving them, it’s an investment in the future of the world.”