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SIU professor discusses Ukraine conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent troops to two separatist regions of Ukraine.
TheKit_13 / Pixabay
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent troops to two separatist regions of Ukraine.

As Russia begins sending troops to Ukraine, an SIU history professor says the history of the region is important to understand.

Theodore Weeks said the idea of a Ukrainian national identity is relatively recent, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken advantage of that.

"For many Russians, including Russians that don't particularly like Putin and are fairly open, not fascistic, it's a little hard to get their minds around the idea that Ukrainians are not just a version of Russians, speaking a kind of dialect of Russian," Weeks said.

Weeks said even if Putin doesn't take any further action in Ukraine, the conflict isn't likely to disappear.

"The situation is not going away if he doesn't invade tomorrow," Weeks said. "And the only way to try to prevent this from happening in the future is a consistent policy of backing up Ukraine, including with commercial, intellectual and military connections."

Weeks says Putin is attempting to keep Ukraine weak to enhance his political standing.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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