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Local Professor Talks History of Russia & Ukraine: What's the Local Impact?

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- KOLR10's Lindsay Clein spoke to a local history professor who specializes in modern Eastern European history. Although what exactly brought down the plane in Eastern Ukraine hasn't been confirmed, the incident brings to light the tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- KOLR10's Lindsay Clein spoke to a local history professor who specializes in modern Eastern European history.

Although what exactly brought down the plane in Eastern Ukraine hasn't been confirmed, the incident brings to light the tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

Assistant Professor of History at Drury University, Dr. Raymond Patton, says there's a long standing tension between Ukraine and Russia.

"You have Ukranian nationalists in Ukraine and you have Russian nationalists in Ukraine," says Dr. Patton.  "And both sides see themselves as right."

Dr. Patton says it comes down to an issue of nationalism.

"For Ukraine to continue to exist, I think there has to be a recognition that Ukraine includes both people who see themselves as Ukrainian and people who see themselves as Russian," says Dr. Patton.  "And they have to find a way of living together in peace as they've done in the past."

The unrest in Eastern Europe is something the United States can relate to.

"This is a country where we, too, have had a civil war," says Dr. Patton.  "And this, too, is a place where there's a struggle between neighbors-- here in Missouri between north and south-- and a lot of wounds caused by that."

Although the issue may be far from us geographically, our nation's security and economy could be impacted.

"We could see this as being a situation that if it's not reconciled-- could certainly go in a very bad direction," says Dr. Patton.  "And be another part of the world that becomes a problem for foreign security of the United States."

Dr. Patton says there is really only one lasting, non catastrophic solution.

"They're a different kind of people-- they're going to be living together," says Dr. Patton.  "And they just need to do in some ways what's the hardest thing-- and that is figure out a way to define themselves in a way they can live together peacefully."

Dr. Patton says part of the reason Ukranians who identify as Ukranians get so nervous when they see what looks like Russian aggression is because of a history of the Russian Empire annexing territory-- including parts of Ukraine. There was also government sponsored starvation and the deportation of non-Russians out of Ukraine.
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