Ukrainian President’s big uni lecture

Flinders University students leapt at the chance to hear Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy deliver a livestreamed lecture on 3 August, with a packed lecture theatre at Bedford Park campus reflecting the high level of interest around Australia in the Ukraine situation.

Addressing up to 20 other Australian universities simultaneously (see social posts at #UniswithUKR) and answering questions in real-time, President Zelenskyy emphasised the importance of human resilience and the power of taking personal responsibility.

Speaking through an English translator, President Zelenskyy said that even under the most brutal conditions of conflict, there is hope for the human capacity and extraordinary acts of bravery – adding that it is never too late to right the wrongs of history by taking personal responsibility for our actions.

When asked what the most difficult thing is to accept during a time of war, President Zelenskyy responded that its challenging to understand humans can be capable of acts of horror, seen in the war crimes and targeting of civilians during this war. Yet they are also capable of true acts of bravery and heroism, witnessed among those people fighting for their country’s survival.

He noted that after World War II, following horrific acts committed by the Nazi regime in Germany, the German nation actively decided to follow a different path, starting with accepting personal responsibility for the atrocities of the war. He said that taking this responsibility has allowed Germany to become the vibrant, open and economically-powerful nation it is today.

President Zelenskyy spoke candidly with students, outlining the brutalities of war but also offering hope that human life, love and resilience will continue long after the war is over – and concluded his address with an invitation for the audience to “come to Ukraine, to be with and see our people… we will win together”.

Students and staff attended the Flinders University lecture in person and online.

Co-ordinator of the Flinders University event, Lecturer in International Relations Dr Jessica Genauer, from the College of Business, Government and Law, has been posting incisive interviews from academic and military experts in Ukraine, Australia, US and elsewhere during the five-month war.

Her most recent post on the #updatefromkiev podcast included commentary from Ukrainian political analyst Oleksandr Kraiev on the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war and the recent bombing of the Olenivka prison which was holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in Donetsk.

The national livestreamed address by President Zelenskyy, organised the Australian National University, can be watched in replay via the Flinders University recording here.

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