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UA professor who also teaches in Ukraine talks about Russian invasion

"I can't condemn it enough. It's just overwhelming sadness and disappointment at the tragedy we are going to see unfold."

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A University of Arkansas professor who teaches in Ukraine spoke with 5NEWS about what's happening in the European country after the Russian invasion.  

"Ukraine is a wonderful country. Delightful people," Christopher Kelley said. 

Kelley is an associate professor of law at the University of Arkansas School of Law and teaches at one of the best universities in Ukraine in the capital city of Kyiv. 

"I think my experience teaching in Ukraine has probably been the most meaningful experience in my life, and it opened a whole new world for me," he said. 

Kelley went to Ukraine as a Fulbright Scholar in 2005 and taught there in person and online for 16 years. He's made between 70 or 80 trips to Ukraine, the last time being this fall.  

"Ukraine didn't start this. Ukraine wants to live in peace. Ukraine wants to be a democracy," he said. 

He says his Ukrainian students are some of the brightest students he's ever taught. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, in his rule of law class that combines Ukrainian students and students here in Arkansas, he let the Ukrainian students share what they were experiencing. He says they were stressed, fearful and preparing to flee.  

"I can't condemn it enough. It's just overwhelming sadness and disappointment at the tragedy we are going to see unfold," Kelly said. 

He saw this message on social media Thursday, Feb. 24, from one of his Ukrainian students. 

The post reads in part…." Russians are shelling us; we've been shelled once. Thank god the Russian missile was shot down by our army in the air, but the experience was horrifying. I never thought the war would be near my house. We stay strong and believe in the Ukraine army." 

Kelley says even though Ukraine is very far away, we'll still feel the effects of this as sanctions will force gas prices to increase, among other things. 

"That's a price well worth paying if you value democracy if you value truth and are disgusted by corruption. Then you will willingly, gladly pay that price. There are some things sacrificing for," he said. 

Kelley was planning to go to Kyiv during our spring break this March to teach. 

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