Monday, March 3, 2014

Ukraine on the Brink of Disaster and Why We Wrote to President Obama and Our Congressmen

Just over  year ago I took part in the Dynamics of Disasters AAAS Symposium in Boston that I had organized and which featured several of our superstars in the profession.

Who would have thought that, in a year, not only did we have the Boston Marathon bombing, but now we are witnessing at terrifying speed the arrival of Russian military troops in Crimea, Ukraine, the site of the Network Science conference, at which I was an invited speaker a few years ago. I even blogged about my great taxi driver, Igor, and the lack of security at the Simferopol airport, one of the sites of what I can only call an invasion of sovereign Ukraine, whose people have suffered over generations. Over the past several months they were demonstrating in Kiev and beyond when Yanukhovich refused to bring the country closer to the West and, specifically,  to the European Union.

In the height of irony or, should I say, perspicacity, the Boston Strong colors look like the Ukrainian flag, with brilliant blue on top, and yellow on the bottom, which I photographed and posted here.

So what is an academic to do when the freedom of  a country is at stake, its sovereignty, and the will of its people, and when international laws are outrightly violated?

Honestly, I was reminded of the movie, which I saw in a drivein one summer, as a child: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming! and which I have written about.

As I have shared with my readers, my first language is Ukrainian, since I immigrated to the U.S., having been born in Canada. I do have a degree in Russian Language and Literature from Brown University (and 3 more in Applied Math, because I love Operations Research).

I have many Russian friends and I love the language, its literature, the ballet, art, and music and we share similar cuisines. I have been to St. Petersburg - magical!

I wrote about my heritage recently and we have written to President Obama as well as to our Congressmen (including Senators Ed  Markey and  Elizabeth Warren).

President Obama has started to speak out and our former great Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, who is now the Secretary of State is doing so as well.   Kerry is expected to arrive in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine,  soon.

I speak Russian - does this give Putin the right to invade the U.S.?

Even the Swedes, in one of my favorite cities on the planet, Gothenburg, where I will be very soon, are expected to support a Ukrainian demonstration for freedom.

I thank all the outstanding journalists who are covering the news from Ukraine. I have tried to personally thank them as well.  Special thanks to The Washington Post and to the BBC and CNN for expert coverage and numerous OpEd pieces in support of Ukraine and freedom-loving people everwhere.

And, would you believe, I was invited to speak recently at a conference in Moscow at the beginning of April, and I would have accepted this great invitation, but I am committed to speaking in Boston at the INFORMS Analytics Conference.

My husband wore the tie below to teach today with the Ukrainian flag and tryzub emblems for solidarity with Ukraine.