By Mike McCombs
Initially, City of Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray said, it was USC Beaufort’s Center For The Arts Diretor Bonnie Hargrove that reached out to him.
“We had adopted Ostroh, informally, and that has been awesome,” Murray said. “And then Bonnie reached out and said, ‘What if we held some kind of event to raise awareness (of Ukraine) and hopefully raise some funds?’”
Murray said they initially thought about showing a documentary about Ukraine and were looking for those to which they could acquire the rights to show in public.
“But then,” Murray said, “we said, ‘what if we had a little panel discussion with some people who know some stuff about Ukraine?’ After we got three people, we decided to scrap the movie.
Now, the City of Beaufort and the University of South Carolina Beaufort will present a panel discussion on the war in Ukraine at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 28 at USCB’s Center for the Arts.
The panel, entitled Unite for Ukraine, is free and open to the public.
Murray will moderate the discussion among three panelists, which include:
USC Beaufort Professor of Political Science Kevin Dopf, Ph.D., a retired Army officer who taught at the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College.
Julie Siebold, who taught English to students in Ukraine.
Inna Lanigan, a Ukrainian national whose family still lives in Ukraine.
Murray said each panelist will be asked to share their relationship with Ukraine and then answer some prepared questions they have gotten. Afterward, there will be a short audience question-and-answer session.
“There’s a hunger for knowledge about Ukraine right now,” Murray said.
Dopf said he hopes those in attendance can gain a better understanding of the problems that Russia poses for Ukraine. He said his knowledge centers on Russia and he would address three specific areas of interest:
- Historic Russian foregin pollicy and how it relates to Ukraine.
- Vladimir Putin and his understanding of Russia, its foregin policy and what specifically he is attempting to achieve.
- What the Ukrainians are dealing with in respect to Russian military tactics, training, procedures, and — what you’re looking at is what they do in all wars — their lack of respect for their opponents.
“Ukraine is going to need a lot of help in dealing with Russia,” Dopf said. “Russia’s foreign policy, military tactics and lack of respect will not change as long as Mr. Putin is in power.”
Dopf said he hopes Americans can gain perspective and understanding and relay those things to their elected officials.
“Ukraine is going to need a strong Europe, a strong United States to maintain its sovereignty,” he said.
The City of Beaufort continues to raise funds for Ostroh, in western Ukraine, to help Ostroh offer humanitarian assistance to refugees from other parts of Ukraine. Those interested can donate through Beaufort Pride of Place. All proceeds will go to Ostroh. More information can be found at http://www.cityofbeaufort.org/270/Beaufort-Pride-of-Place.
“This war is 5,000 miles away, but it’s amazing we have ties to Ukraine right here in the community,” Murray said. “It is intriguing to me, reducing the physical distance and having valuable conversation.
“Personalizing what’s on the other side of the world is never a bad thing.”
Mike McCombs is the Editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.