Ukraine Update Interview: “The war actually caught many students by surprise. And getting home for now is quite difficult for them, or even impossible.”

Ukraine Update Interview: “The war actually caught many students by surprise. And getting home for now is quite difficult for them, or even impossible.”

In a collaboration between Europhonica, RadUni and the College Radio Foundation, we are sharing an exclusive interview with Oleksandr Sanchenko, Ukrainian Parliamentarian from Sluha Narodu Party, the same party of the president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Oleksandr Sanchenko

In this interview, Sanchenko talks directly about the students in Ukraine and how they have been affected by the ongoing war.

You can hear the interview here (transcript below):


Simone Pavesi: Hello to everyone! Simone Pavesi is here, and I’m with my colleague Nadiya Antentyk. Hi Nadiya.

Nadiya Antentyk: Hi Simone. We are in the radio studios of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Today we want to show our solidarity to the Ukrainian people.

Simone Pavesi: Europhonica, RadUni, the University Media and Operators Association, and World College Radio Day support the Ukrainian strength.

Nadiya Antentyk: This week, we have covered the works of the plenary session of the Parliament from the situation of refugees of the east to the foreign interferences in the EU democracy. Parliament has approved a resolution to condemn them and to renew the mandate of the special Parliament Commission.

Simone Pavesi: We have also listened to the speech of the prime minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, who has made a strong appeal to hall members in order to have a common defense. Furthermore, we have interviewed some members, and we suggest you to listen to podcasts. In our contents, we have talked about the measures of Council and of Commission to contrast the Putin’s war. In these days we are following the activities of the conference on the future of Europe that involves directly the European citizens to write the story of tomorrow.

Nadiya Antentyk: Now we have the opportunity to collect the witness of a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. He comes from Sluha Narodu Party, the same party of the president, Volodymyr Zelensky. He is Oleksandr Sanchenko. Thank you for being with us.

Simone Pavesi: Mr. Sanchenko, how are the university students in Ukraine?

Oleksandr Sanchenko: How are universities in Ukraine? You know, it’s different from region to region, because in some regions actual war is going on, in some regions more calm. So, students go to the territorial defense, help volunteering, and help organizations donate blood and collect necessary assistance for the armed forces and people that are in need. Everyone who has experience in military affairs had the right to take the individual schedule and academic leave to join the armed forces of Ukraine to defend our territory. Actually, everyone is doing everything possible to end this war as soon as possible. In cities like Chernihiv, Kharkiv, we have universities destroyed by Russians, and they destroyed student dormitories. There are actually fights in many cities, and it’s difficult to access the educational process and educational infrastructure. So, it’s difficult to say, in general, what’s going on considering students.

Nadiya Antentyk: Are there some projects or safe corridors in place between universities to track the students?

Oleksandr Sanchenko: About your second question about the safe corridors between universities, I’ll give you some examples. In Kharkiv, students of National University of Pharmacy were evacuated to Dnipro[?], and the completely destroyed University of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine was moved to Chernivtsi[?]. And so most of the destroyed universities and educational institutions I hope will find a place to continue their activities. So we are working on it as well. Also, I’m convinced that after the war with help of partners from the European Union, we will rebuild these universities, universities that survived after the Second World War but failed after the Russian invasion. As far as the educational process for information after two weeks of war it was decided that in areas where it’s more peaceful and quiet, will be distance learning established from March 14. So even in the war, Ukraine takes care of its students because scholarships continue to be paid and it is possible to live in dormitories, because the war actually caught many students by surprise. And getting home for now is quite difficult for them, or even impossible.

Simone Pavesi: What can the university students in Italy do to help and support Ukrainian universities right now?

Oleksandr Sanchenko: I think it could be a good idea if there will be links with Italian universities and Ukrainian universities, and it could be like different kinds of help, because in some places they need humanitarian help, and the people in the cities that are invaded there are problems with humanitarian needs. Some universities that are fully ruined, maybe if Italian universities could get these people for some time, while the war is going on to to be held in the university process, in the dormitories, so for telling us this, it will be great as well. And of course, there could be big support from Italian students to support the no-fly zone over the territory of Ukraine because the bombs, aircrafts are doing this because we have no fly zone, it’s a big issue. And we push the European politicians to give us this no-fly zone, to give the aircraft that will help to defend our territory. So, it’s a big issue. And the big thing that Italian young people, students could do just to push the politicians to help Ukraine more, because it’s a war not just about the Ukraine, it’s a war about Europe as well. And of course, in this meaning, there is a big issue of the nuclear stations, because two of them now are under control of Russian troops. And it could be like Chernobyl #2, and it could be the end for Europe. So, you could push the politics, politicians to not let it happen.

Nadiya Antentyk: What does Ukraine actually expect from Europe and the Europeans?

Oleksandr Sanchenko: Ukraine and Ukrainians really need and expect from Europeans support, humanitarian and other kinds of support. And from European politics, expect more courage, more courage to do the no-fly zone, on the territory of Ukraine. Do not give the option to Russian Federation to do some bombing of civilians, children, the students. We need more support to the sanctions on Russia, the more sanctions the faster this war will end. We need informational support about the nuclear situation in Ukraine. Here, as I already said, the two nuclear stations are under the control of Russia, and they could do Chernobyl #2 six times more than it was. It will be the end of Europe, and we don’t actually see the understanding of this of European politics. So, the students could raise up these questions. Do the political do enough to protect Europe, not only Ukraine? It’s already about Europe. Putin won’t stop on the border of Ukraine if the European Union will be behaving such as now. And of course, the question of integration of Ukraine in the European Union as a full member. It’s also important and as far as I know about the studies, most people in Europe support this idea. And of course, it’s the students as most progressive part of the nations, I’m sure must put on the map this question to the politics. So, if the people in the country support this, why is it going on so slowly? So, just in general we quite expect support from Europeans, and we see this support and are really grateful for this. And we expect more courage, more courage from the European politics, and I’m sure the students of Italy could help them to feel this courage to do their best for the better future of Europe.

Simone Pavesi: Thank you, Mr. Sanchenko, for your availability.

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