March 15, 2022

Lyudmyla Ardan spends her days checking in on friends and family who still live in her native country of Ukraine. She spoke recently during a panel discussion on the Ukrainian conflict with Russia.

Lyudmyla Ardan, assistant professor of economics Lyudmyla Ardan, assistant professor of economics“We won’t capitulate,” said Ardan, assistant professor of economics at Susquehanna. “Knowing how patriotic Ukrainians are, we’re ready to fight and die. We’re not going to give up.”

Though Ardan has lived in the United States for more than 15 years, her father and other relatives still live in the western Ukrainian city of Kolomyia. She was initially relieved that fighting had remained in the east, however this changed on March 11 when Russian bombing began in the west, approximately 200 miles north of Kolomyia.

“I’m worried once he’s (Putin) done with the east he will come for us in the west,” Ardan said just hours before western bombing began.

Ardan also has friends and family in eastern Ukraine and Russia, where she said they are fed a stream of propaganda by state-controlled media.

“From my conversations with Russians, the stories they are telling are appalling,” Ardan said. “They tell me the Ukrainian army is attacking us and that the Russians are coming to denazify us.”

Andrea Lopez, associate professor of political science Andrea Lopez, associate professor of political scienceAs Andrea Lopez, associate professor of political science, has shared with Susquehanna students and alumni in the past, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been building since the 1990s as NATO expanded to the east. Despite a clumsy military campaign, Lopez expects Russia will double down on efforts to quash domestic protests against the war and press ahead militarily. Though she doubts Russia will employ nuclear weapons, she would not rule it out.

“It’s frankly kind of a scary time,” Lopez said. “And it’s important to recognize that and also think about confronting the challenges to democracy we face right now and the issues we as Americans and Ukrainians are standing for,” Lopez said.

Ardan is trying to raise funds for the Ukrainian military and get the truth to her Russian friends.

“This is an unimaginable tragedy. It is astounding this is happening in my own country in the 21st century,” she said. “Sanctions will have an impact on the Russian economy; meanwhile, we are fighting for our lives.”