Chico State professor has deep ties to Ukraine

Chico State professor has deep ties to Ukraine

CHICO, Calif. - A Chico State professor has been in constant contact with her friends in Ukraine since violent protests erupted there, and worried for their safety, she's willing to do what she can to help.

Kate Transchel teaches Eastern European history at Chico State and is an expert on Ukraine, having lived there for a time and made countless trips.

"My heart is breaking for Ukraine," Transchel said. "They're a country that has tremendous potential that has never really been fully realized and so my heart breaks for them.  "    

Transchel said her Ukranian friends have been active in the current uprising.

"My Kiev friends were certainly down in the square protesting. And I have friends in the far western part of the country, they were sending food and making clothes to send to the protestors," she said. "Everybody I know there was involved in one way or another with the opposition."

She's kept a close eye on the conflict in Ukraine and on her loved ones there. She even Skyped with one of them during a class, and has grave concerns about what she's hearing.

"My friends are very afraid that it's going to turn to war and they're really hoping that the backing that they're getting from the UK, from the EU and from the US will be enough to sort of make [Russian president] Putin cease and desist," Transchel said.

To her, it's a conflict in a kindred homeland. And she holds out hope the United States won't need to get further involved.

"Would we put boots on the ground? I seriously doubt it," she said. "Putin doesn't want that, the interim government in Ukraine doesn't want that, the United States certainly doesn't want that. But I do think it's going to get more tense before Putin backs down."

And as the tension builds, Transchel is ready to give her Ukranian friends a safe place to stay.

"I have offered my home to my Ukranian friends. If it gets bad there, I've offered them a sort of refuge here."

She doesn't think it will come to that and said economic sanctions should be enough to calm the situation.

Transchel's currently writing a book about human trafficking in Eastern Europe, but doesn't plan on visiting any time soon.

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