Political expert says war won’t end soon, leaving Ukrainians in San Antonio heartbroken

As the war runs into the third week, many are wondering how this will all end.

SAN ANTONIO – The Russian invasion is slowly taking over Ukraine, with the U.N. reporting at least 549 civilian deaths and 41 children included in that number.

“They changed their approach to being much more willing to take risk on civilian lives and being much more brutal for lack of a better word in their approach,” Matthias Hofferberth, associate professor of political science at UTSA, said.

Hofferberth has been following the conflict closely, even prior to Russia’s invasion.

“We have to live with this war for quite some time,” Hofferberth said.

When analyzing the motivation behind the invasion, he speculates there are several including geopolitical and territorial gains but also global motivations.

“There would still be this sort of intrinsic security motivation to not have a country bordering Russia, which becomes a member of NATO,” Hofferberth said.

When looking at those bordering countries like Poland, Estonia, and Latvia, there is fear that if Russia takes Ukraine, they’ll keep marching on.

Hofferberth says each country’s NATO status plays a role.

“I think it’s a bit of an unlikely scenario because the big difference is Ukraine was an associated member and not a full member,” he explained.

Meanwhile, people from Ukraine like Olena Khrystyuk and Olenka Bravo say they believe Putin’s war will extend beyond Ukraine if NATO doesn’t step in.

“We don’t need to sacrifice Ukrainians toward peaceful resolution because even if the world will sacrifice Ukraine, it’s not going to be a peaceful resolution. Putin will go farther,” Bravo said.

Both are heartbroken, watching the place they love under fire knowing over two million Ukrainians have left without guarantee they’ll have a country, let alone a home to go back to.

“They need help so they can stay in their country and live on their land and have their freedom and democracy and rights -- the right to self-determination,” Khrystyuk said.

Khrystyuk said Russians living outside of the country need to tell their family and friends still there the truth of what is happening rather than the propaganda they’re hearing now.

“They need to call their brothers, sisters, mothers, their family, their friends in Russia and say, ‘this is not a special ops,’” Khrystyuk said. “This is war. It’s worse than war. It’s an execution of Ukrainians -- Ukrainians who have done nothing wrong.”

Khrystyuk and Bravo both asked President Biden to step in, underlying the need for outside influence to end the war.

Hofferberth says international negotiations will play a key role, more specifically China.

He explained many have speculated China is for the invasion but they have a lot to lose.

The Chinese main narrative has been one of international sovereign. It’s like no state can be challenged by other states about their internal affairs. And that’s how they justify their own human rights policies,” Hofferberth said.

He went on to say if they allow another sovereign nation like Ukraine to have that taken away, it’ll put the Chinese into dangerous territory.

While the Chinese have been limited in their support for a peaceful resolution, Hofferberth says their support is key because of the Russian-Chinese relationship.

“To do this, it will have to be some kind of bilateral trilateral effort. But I think it can be the connection between Xi Jinping and Putin in particular and making sure that he’s negotiating seriously,” he said.

He believes de-escalation can only be achieved if China steps up, rather than staying back on the sidelines.

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About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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