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Bethel University history professor on Russia's invasion of Ukraine

History professor Dr. Gehrz joined KARE 11 Saturday to give historical context to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

ST PAUL, Minn. — In Europe's largest armed conflict since World War II, Russia invaded former USSR-member nation Ukraine last week. In order to give larger historical context to the invasion, Bethel University history professor Doctor Chris Gehrz joined KARE 11 Saturday to discuss the two nations' history and how this is playing out in front of the backdrop of the Soviet Union's collapse.

Dr. Gehrz explained that Ukraine used to be part of the Soviet Union and voted to declare independence when the USSR collapsed in the early 1990s. Since then, the nations' relationship has been rocky, especially when Vladimir Putin rose to power within Russia in 2000.

This is the first time since World War II that a European power invaded one of its neighbors, Gehrz said.

He added that while tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been simmering since Russia moved in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and all of the historical context behind the attack, what he and his students at Bethel University are watching is still shocking.

Dr. Gehrz also explained how social media has created a completely different world since WWII began, with people now able to witness what is happening on the ground in real-time rather than waiting days and weeks for updates from newspapers.

With the ability to see the war unfold in real time and see content uploaded by Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, this war feels a little more personal than previous armed conflicts, Gehrz said.

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