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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Ukrainian parliament member Oleksiy Goncharenko discusses lessons of war in Ukraine

About 40 people listened to the MP speak on topics such as the symbolic significance of the war as a battle against dictatorship and the material significance of U.S. foreign military aid.

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Ukrainian parliament member Oleksiy Goncharenko spoke of the significance of the ongoing war in Ukraine for the U.S. in Hanover on Saturday. The event — titled “Lesson for the free world from the war in Ukraine” — was organized by the Eastern European Club and the humanitarian nonprofit Futurevia and co-sponsored by the government department and the Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Approximately 40 people attended the event, which was held in the Paganucci Lounge in the Class of 1953 Commons and was moderated by Futurevia founder and president and Eastern European Club president Oleksandr Zavalov ’26.

In addition to being a Ukrainian parliament member, Goncharenko is a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe — an international organization dedicated to upholding human rights and democracy — and the vice president of its Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons. He also founded the Goncharenko Center, a network of cultural and education centers across Ukraine that offers various free educational programs, according to their website. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last February, many of these centers have transformed into volunteer hubs to provide humanitarian support to those affected by the conflict, Goncharenko said.

During the event, Goncharenko highlighted the international implications of the war in Ukraine and what it means for the ongoing battle for the values of the “free world.” Goncharenko said the war in Ukraine will be a watershed moment for the future of democracy worldwide. 

“The danger … from a dictatorship against the free world is underestimated,” he said. “It’s not only about Russia and Ukraine — the future is much wider.”

While speaking, Goncharenko presented a slide deck titled “Live Free or Die,” which he said was a nod to the values and official state motto of New Hampshire. 

“New Hampshire was very wise … because that is [the] absolute reality,” he said. “If you are giving up your freedom one day, you’ll be taking your life.”

Goncharenko explained how Ukraine has been able to continuously fight Russia, despite the initial projections that Ukraine would quickly succumb to the power’s military strength. He noted that the large size of Russia’s military budget does not accurately reflect its actual military abilities due to internal corruption. 

“The [Russian] military budget is more than 60 billion dollars, and now in Russia, people are raising money to buy warm socks for their soldiers,” he said. “The majority of this money is just stolen. This money [is] in yachts of Russian oligarchs; the money [is] in [the] palaces of Putin.”

Goncharenko also explained the important role that U.S. aid has played in supporting the fight against Russia, making the case that it is an extremely valuable use of American taxpayer money. According to Goncharenko, Americans tend to be apprehensive about the U.S. giving foreign military aid. However, he pointed out that by sending only a small percentage of its military budget, the U.S. allowed Ukraine to decimate Russia’s military capacity. 

After Goncharenko finished his presentation, Zavalov opened the floor to a Q&A session. In response to a question about what Dartmouth students can do to help Ukrainians, Goncharenko said that “the main battle is for the brains of people.” 

“It’s very important just to spread information in social media — to share, to like, to speak with your parents, to speak with your friends, to tell them it’s an important story,” he said. “It matters for all of us.”

Futurevia vice president Jack Grodnick ’26 said he was “shocked” by how many people came to the event.

“[I’m] glad this community is so passionate about Ukraine and being involved in it,” he said.

Goncharenko said that it is valuable for Americans to advocate on Ukraine’s behalf to their elected representatives to tell them why it is important to continue providing military aid.

“Definitely if you have an opportunity [for] you and your family to donate, to help some humanitarian things, to help our network, any other network in Ukraine … that is very important,” Goncharenko said.

Cecile Tobin ’24 said that she was interested in Goncharenko’s arguments.

“[I] appreciated hearing his arguments about how the war in Ukraine relates to the U.S. and thought students had some really interesting questions to pose,” she said. 

Correction appended (Feb. 5, 9:45 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that the event was co-sponsored by the government department. It was also co-sponsored by the Dickey Center for International Understanding. The article has been updated.