Auburn professor and Ukraine native reflect on east Europe conflict

Auburn professor and Ukraine native reflects on eastern Europe conflict

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - There were similar opinions across east Alabama on Thursday, July 17, after news spread that a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed in eastern Ukraine.

"I think it's unfortunate that innocent lives were lost," says Valley resident Anthony Bacigalupi.

"I think it is devastating that they hit civilian airline and if it wasn't Russia is was an act of terrorism and now their bringing innocent lives into it," explains Auburn resident Lauren Williams.

Dr. Liliana Stern, an economics professor at Auburn University is a native of western Ukraine.

When she heard the devastating news facing her county this afternoon, she couldn't believe what she saw on the television screen.

"It's just very sad that these people died that have nothing to do with either Russia or Ukraine. I hope it shows this is not a regional conflict. Putin is trying to assert his authority in the whole world," explains Stern.

Stern came to the United States in 2000 to finish her degree in economics at Indiana University.

She has many friends and family members, including her parents who still live in western Ukraine.

"This is no means just a small squabble between Ukraine and Russia. It's a very serious threat to Europe, the United States and the rest of the world because Russia is a huge country and has a huge military. I'm just very saddened by what happened today and I think this could have been prevented," says Stern.

Her parents have said if they had not watched the news, they wouldn't have known there was a conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Stern hopes these hostilities won't escalate.

"In any case, it tells you the degree of this turmoil in eastern Ukraine," explains Stern.

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