Crisis in Ukraine focus of campus discussion in Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Crisis in Ukraine focus of campus discussion in Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A conflict half a world away will take center stage at UW-Eau Claire this weekend.

Diplomats and former ambassadors are coming to Eau Claire to share their expertise and views on the conflict in Ukraine.

"It’s a rather crucial point in history,” said Valdis Krastins a former Latvian Diplomat.

And that point in history has seven speakers heading to Eau Claire to talk about Ukraine.

“These are people that are not only professors and knowledgeable but also they have participated in shaping policy,” said organizer and history professor Paulis Lazda.

Last fall when planning for the symposium was just starting, the crisis in Ukraine hadn’t even begun.

"It was a coincidence that it should become such a central part of our daily lives,” said Lazda.

But there are those who would question how a conflict 5000 miles away matters to them? We asked that question.

"The historical parallel is so obvious it's difficult to accept,” said Krastins.

"This is exactly what Hitler did,” said Lazda. “He made the claims on Czechoslovakia that he had to save his volksdeutsche, the same claim is made now by Putin that he has to save Russians,” Lazda added.

Krastins agreed, “I think we are approaching a time where we're not talking politics but we're talking real life, real arms, real possibilities of world war three,” he said.

"I think it's important for us to know that we are not an island,” said Lazda. “We are part of the world and that the policies concerning human beings, societies, and democracy, if that is threatened somewhere it is threatening to all of us."

It's a complicated conflict and with seven different speakers over two days it's a lot to take in but organizers hope anyone who attends walks away with some new knowledge.

"It's an opportunity where the world comes to us,” Lazda said. “It's a rare that we can touch history and we can touch those that make history, that doesn't happen everyday"

The free event starts at 1:00 pm tomorrow in Centennial Hall on campus.

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