FHSU professor shares perspective on war in Ukraine

Dr. Amber Nickel is a historian at Fort Hays State University who spent a year in Ukraine from 2017 to 2018.
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 8:41 PM CDT
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HAYS, Kan. (KWCH) -Dr. Amber Nickell, an historian at Fort Hays State University, spent a year in Ukraine from 2017 to 2018. This week, she offered perspective on what’s happening in the Eastern European nation she’s grown to know well.

“This is an unprovoked war of Russian aggression against independent and sovereign Ukraine,” she said of the war that began last month with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While far different than what the country is experiencing, in 2017, she said she felt the impact of war in Ukraine firsthand.

“Sometimes solders’ boots coming back. We saw families that have been impacted. I taught English to a group of internally displaced people, so people who fled,” she said.

Dr. Nickell has been in touch with Ukrainian friends and colleagues in a traumatizing experience.

“It has been nonstop messaging ever since, from friends and from colleagues,” she said. “And so, in many ways, I sometimes feel like I am experiencing the through them.”

Dr. Nickell said tensions have escalated over time. One reason: The Revolution of Dignity in 2014.

“As a result of this violence, as well as Ukrainian agitation, Ukrainians were actually able to get a change in government after 2014,” she said. “And this change of government was more pro-Western than anything Ukraine had before.”

This raised concerns with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin was terrified of this,” Dr. Nickell said. “He was worried that Ukraine would switch even closer westward.”

Her son, Mark Nickell, also lived in Ukraine in 2017 and 2018.

“I have definitely been in a state of depression since I learned about it,” he said of Russia’s attack on the country. “It’s been hard to look at the news and read up on everything.”

He one day hopes to return to Ukraine and teach English to Ukrainians.

“Absolutely. I cannot think of anything else to do at this moment besides get over there and help,” he said.

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