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Ukrainian scholar now at SU fled her home in Kyiv when Russia invaded

Dr. Tetiana Hranchak in an office at Syracuse University's Maxwell School Feb. 22, 2024.
Scott Willis
Dr. Tetiana Hranchak in an office at Syracuse University's Maxwell School Feb. 22, 2024.

Two years ago, when Russia began invading Ukraine, Dr. Tetiana Hranchak and her husband packed their bags and fled to the United States. The scholar, researcher, and activist feared for her safety and knew they would leave if and when Russia attacked.

“So our first plan was to survive, just to be in a safe place," Hranchak said. "That is why we went to the USA and I never dreamed that I would be able to continue my research and my teaching activity.”

Last year, Hranchak joined Syracuse University’s Maxwell School as a visiting assistant teaching professor through the Scholars at Risk Network. It’s her second appointment since arriving in the U-S. Hranchak says Russia has always wanted to expand its border to the west. But now she says it’s about much more than that.

“It's not about territory. It's about will Ukrainians exist or not," Hranchak said. "And we don't have any choice. We can die on the front lines or we can just die without resistance.”

Hranchak says her son stayed behind in case the army needs him. She remains cautiously optimistic despite Russia’s goal to exterminate the Ukrainians.

“I hope, of course, that we will win because I'd like us to live," Hranchak said. "We don't have any choice and I think that world deserves to have Ukraine. It can't just disappear because of Russians.”

Hranchak's teaching position ends this May.

Click the "Listen" tab above the photo to hear the full interview with Dr. Hranchak.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at