Statement on Ukraine from the Scholars of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies at the City University of New York

We, the scholars of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia at the City University of New York (CUNY) and members of the CUNY REEES Workshop, condemn the Russian Federation’s military invasion of Ukraine. 

It hits close to home for us, as part of the public university for the city with the largest populations of Russian- and Ukrainian-Americans in the United States. As scholars, we are appalled and angered by President Putin’s use of historical distortions to justify Russia’s attack on Ukrainian sovereignty by calling it a war of de-Nazification against fascism. We see this attack on Ukraine as an attack on humanity, democracy, and the rule of law, and that it poses an extraordinary threat of wider war.  

We call on the U.S. and other NATO countries to send more defensive weapons to Ukraine, to provide it with intelligence information, to provide reception centers and documents for refugees, and to prevent further annexations or the dissolution of the country. We stand with the people of Ukraine, whose lives and hopes for democratic self-governance have been upended by this vicious assault, and with the brave citizens of Russia and Belarus who oppose their authoritarian regimes and protest the illegal actions of their governments.

February 28, 2022

Anna Zhelnina on Russian views of the invasion of Ukraine on the International Horizons podcast

What is the state of the Russian opposition to Vladimir Putin? Why aren’t more people out on the streets against the war in Ukraine? Anna Zhelnina (PhD Sociology 2020, the Graduate Center, CUNY) of the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies discusses the state of the Russian opposition and civil society organizing on the International Horizons podcast with Professor John Torpey, Graduate Center, CUNY.

Published Monday, May 9, 2022

Sessions for CUNY faculty and staff on supporting those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine

A number of CUNY faculty and staff have been affected by the war​ as well as displaced employees seeking refuge in NYC. CUNY wishes to provide support and aid to such employees in need.

Subsequently, CUNY will hold 3 sessions via Zoom, that CUNY faculty and staff are welcome to attend, with the aim of brainstorming and recommending options and resources for faculty and staff faced with challenging circumstances due to the war. 

The sessions are as follows: 
Monday, April 11, 2022, 12:00-1:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 893 8658 2375
Passcode: 482157

Tuesday, April 12, 2022, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 858 4964 4948
Passcode: 000743

Wednesday, April 13, 2022, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
​Meeting ID: 827 6558 4109
Passcode: 700163 

Branko Milanovic on the Russian economy

Branko Milanovic, Senior Fellow at the Stone Center on Inequality at the Graduate Center, was interviewed in Jacobin about how the legacy of the 1990s economic decline in Russia, which he witnessed firsthand while working there for the World Bank, has impacted where Russia is today.

“I would like to point out that an increase in inequality under conditions of huge decline in real incomes, is entirely different than having the same increase in inequality under conditions of growth … Between 1987 and 1993, Russian GDP, on the contrary, fell by about 40 percent.  Compare that to the US Great Depression, which saw about a 30 percent decline, from the peak to the trough. If you were in the lower part of the Russian income distribution, not only would you lose 40 percent of your income, but because inequality went against you, you would lose 60 or 70 percent.”

Andrew Polsky and Adam McMahon learning from the onset of the Cold War

Andrew J. Polsky, Professor of Political Science, at Hunter College/Graduate Center, CUNY, and Adam McMahon, Assistant Professor, Ryder University (and PhD, political science, the Graduate Center) wrote in the New York Daily News about what lessons can be drawn from the 1950s and the onset of the Cold War for the Russian invasion of Ukraine today.

Although NATO cannot submit to nuclear blackmail, we must remember that Russian threats to use nuclear weapons reflect weakness. Like Eisenhower, Biden understands that when an adversary with a nuclear arsenal gets on an onramp, the last thing you want to do is encourage him to push his foot down on the gas pedal.

March 19, 2022

Profiles of Ukrainian CUNY Students

The new CUNYverse platform features profiles of a few of the hundreds of Ukrainian CUNY students.

“Hi, there are explosions. I hope to see you again. I love you.” This was the message 17-year-old incoming CUNY student Iva Verba saw first thing in the morning on February 24 from her boyfriend. Ukrainians all over the world woke up to similar messages from their loved ones back home, who found themselves suddenly fearing for their lives under the thundering sounds of exploding bombs and rockets.

March 11, 2022

Moustafa Bayoumi on racism in the media coverage of Ukrainian refugees

Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English, Brooklyn College, penned this opinion piece in The Guardian on how the coverage of Ukrainian refugees differs from those fleeing other recent wars and calamities.

More troubling still is that this kind of slanted and racist media coverage extends beyond our screens and newspapers and easily bleeds and blends into our politics. Consider how Ukraine’s neighbors are now opening their doors to refugee flows, after demonizing and abusing refugees, especially Muslim and African refugees, for years.

March 2, 2022

Brigid O’Keeffe on the USSR and successor states

Brigid O’Keeffe, Professor of History, Brooklyn College, is quoted in this History channel website backgrounder on the Soviet Union, its constituent parts, and successor states.

According to Brigid O’Keeffe, professor of history at Brooklyn College, fears of nationalist revolts by non-Russians led the Bolsheviks in the early days of the Soviet Union to guarantee the right to national territories, native-language schools and cultural organizations while using those institutions to saturate the population with socialist values and practices. “In many ways, the Bolsheviks’ nationality policy worked as intended—in the sense that it helped to integrate non-Russian peoples into the evolving Soviet state, society, economy and culture,” she says. “But it also relentlessly demanded that Soviet people think about themselves in national terms, and it placed ethnicity at the center of Soviet politics.”

March 8, 2022