World Affairs Council holds panel discussion on war in Ukraine

Local experts and the first ambassador to Ukraine weighed in on the international conflict

World Affairs Council holds panel discussion on war in Ukraine

SAN ANTONIO – The World Affairs Council on Wednesday held a panel discussion about the war in Ukraine with San Antonio experts and the first ambassador to Ukraine weighing in.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a desperate plea to the U.S. Congress to close the airspace above his country to cut off Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for thousands of people,” Zelensky said.

His address included a sobering video of Ukraine’s reality on full display.

Pregnant women and children were bleeding in the streets, and bodies were dumped into mass graves while missiles rained from the sky.

ALSO ON KSAT.COM: How to help the people in Ukraine

Ukrainians living in San Antonio, such as Maryana Bhogte and Olenka Bravo, are begging for help for their home country.

“Ukraine’s sky must be closed,” Bhogte said. “Putin sees Ukraine as the gateway to the West.”

“If President Biden is afraid of World War III, it has already started, but it doesn’t have the official date yet,” Bravo added.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden gave an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine to support its efforts but has stopped short in answering Zelensky’s call to police their skies, essentially closing the country off to Putin’s airstrikes.

“I fully understand the caution regarding NATO or the United States getting involved in an open skies policy,” said Roman Popadiuk, the first ambassador to Ukraine. “We do not want to be in a situation where there’s a direct conflict between the United States and Russia or NATO in general and Russia.

Popadiuk explained Biden and NATO’s hesitancy, as avoiding direct conflict with Russia means avoiding the potential for a third world war.

The international conflict inspired the World Affairs Council’s panel discussion Wednesday night.

Popadiuk was joined by Liliya Colston with the Ukrainian Society of San Antonio and Rosa Aloisi, an associate professor at Trinity University.

“Ukrainian people are stronger than anybody thought they are,” Colston said.

The panelists answered questions from audience members and speculated why the war started and how it would end.

Each expressed the same sentiment of heartbreak over the ongoing war and hope for resolution.

“We are in front of one of the worst humanitarian situations following World War II,’ Aloisi said.

The council’s discussion finished with a call to action to help the people of Ukraine.

Colston explained they’re in desperate need of medical supplies and humanitarian aid. You can help by clicking here to donate.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news 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.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.