Ukrainian ambassador Kovaliv yuliya speaks in a Carleton classroom.

In her remarks at Carleton University on January 20, 2023, Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada Yuliya Kovaliv recalled the day the Russian invasion began in the city of Kyiv.

“I remember going to bed with plans for the next day and then waking up to the sound of the bombardment,” recalled Kovaliv, who was hosted by the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (EURUS). “We didn’t know what to do because we didn’t think something of this scale could happen on the European continent.”

Kovaliv was appointed Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada in March 2022. Previously, she held executive positions in public administration in Ukraine, focusing on economic development. Today, her focus has changed, as she recounts the experience of people living in a war zone.

“If you ask people who will prevail — the military power or the democracy — many expected Ukraine to fall,” said Kovaliv who spoke without a microphone to a hushed classroom filled with visitors. “This is a lesson about how the spirit of a people can make a huge difference in history. Young people, including lawyers, journalists, and doctors lined up to protect their country. They have no electricity, water, or heat but they are still committed to the fight. They want democracy and they’re willing to suffer for it.”

While the war may seem far away to Canadians, Kovaliv said it will continue to have global repercussions.

“This is of utmost importance, not just for Ukraine, but for the world. There are so many global implications: food security, international organizations, and nuclear safety among them,” she said.

Kovaliv was the first speaker in the War in Ukraine lecture series, hosted by the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. The Institute has taken a leadership role in the public discussion of the war. EURUS recently released the War in Ukraine Observatory Portal, which provides information and commentary as well as practical information related to government support for Ukrainian refugees.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 in ,
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