Understanding the War in Ukraine: A Panel with SFU Experts

Equity + Justice, 2022, Democracy, Media + Information

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world and has left many of us grappling to understand what this means, how it happened and what we can do.

Join us for a panel discussion with SFU experts on Russian history and foreign policy, cyberwarfare and dis/misinformation, international security, diplomacy and refugee crises. Each expert will give a short presentation on their area of expertise as it relates to the war in Ukraine, with space for questions and discussion.

This event is hosted by SFU Public Square and the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University.


Ilya Vinkovetsky — Associate Professor, Department of History
Topic: 19th-century Russian history and colonial practices and their influence on today’s war

Nicole Jackson — Associate Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies, School for International Studies
Topic: Russia’s military involvement in conflicts in former Soviet space and what this war means for Russia and the region

Svitlana Matviyenko — Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis, School of Communication
Topic: Matviyenko is currently teaching courses remotely from Ukraine and keeping a war diary about her experience. She will speak about digital militarism, dis- and misinformation, and cyberwar.

Paul Meyer — Fellow in International Security and Adjunct Professor, School for International Studies
Topic: Responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the United Nations, NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

James Horncastle — Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities, and Edward and Emily McWhinney Professor in International Relations
Topic: The refugee crisis and humanitarian response


Megan MacKenzie — Professor and Simons Chair in International Law and Human Security, School for International Studies

Wed, 13 Apr 2022

9:30 a.m. (PT)

Online event

About the panelists

Ilya Vinkovetsky

Associate Professor, Department of History

Ilya Vinkovetsky is an associate professor of history at Simon Fraser University and the author of Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire (Oxford University Press, 2011). Aside from publications on Russian colonialism and Indigenous people in Alaska, he has written on constitution-making, Eurasianism, and post-Soviet Russia. His most recent work is on the Russian Empire’s pre-railroad continent-wide transportation network and the Chinese-Russian tea trade.

Nicole Jackson

Associate Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies, School for International Studies

Nicole J. Jackson is Associate Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies at SFU's School for International Studies. She teaches and researches in the area of security studies and foreign policy analysis, concentrating in particular on Russia and Central Asia. 

Her first book, Russian Foreign Policy and the CIS: Theories, Debates and Actions, examined Russian ideas and debates over military involvement in Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan. Most of her research focuses on Russia’s involvement in the post-Soviet space, and includes the securitization of trafficking in Central Asia, Russia’s policies towards Central Asia, and Russia’s involvement in regional organizations. More recently she has written on Russia’s approach to outer space and NATO and Canadian approaches to hybrid threats and disinformation.

Born in Montreal, her BA (Hons.) in Political Science is from the University of Toronto (Trinity College) and her MSc and PhD are from the London School of Economics. Dr. Jackson’s research has been funded by major fellowships. She is currently a board member of the NATO Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of Security and Intelligence Studies (CASIS) Vancouver. She is the recipient of the 2012 SFU Cormack Award for Teaching Excellence.

Svitlana Matviyenko

Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis, School of Communication

Svitlana Matviyenko is an assistant professor of critical media analysis in SFU's School of Communication. Her research and teaching are focused on information and cyberwar; political economy of information; media and environment; infrastructure studies; and STS. She writes about practices of resistance and mobilization; digital militarism; dis- and misinformation; Internet history; cybernetics; psychoanalysis; posthumanism; the Soviet and the post-Soviet techno-politics; and nuclear cultures, including the Chernobyl Zone of Exclusion. She is a co-editor of two collections, The Imaginary App (MIT Press, 2014) and Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). She is a co-author of Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism (Minnesota UP, 2019), a winner of the 2019 book award of the Science, Technology and Art in International Relations (STAIR) section of the International Studies Association and of the Canadian Communication Association's 2020 Gertrude J. Robinson book prize.

Paul Meyer

Fellow in International Security and Adjunct Professor, School for International Studies

Paul Meyer is a fellow in international security and an adjunct professor of international studies at SFU. Prior to assuming his current appointments in 2011, Meyer had a 35-year career with the Canadian Foreign Service. Meyer had diplomatic assignments in Oslo, Moscow, Brussels (NATO), Washington, Tokyo and from 2003-2007 in Geneva where he served as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and to the Conference on Disarmament. At the then Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s HQ, Meyer held a variety of positions including Director General for International Security (1998-2001) and Director General for Security and Intelligence (2007-2010). Throughout his work, Meyer has sought to promote international security and conflict prevention by means of creative diplomacy. He currently teaches a course on diplomacy at SFU’s School for International Studies and beyond academia he is active as a director and past chair of the Canadian Pugwash Group, a senior advisor with ICT4Peace, a founding fellow of the Outer Space Institute and a member of the International Panel on Fissile Material. Meyer is engaged in research and writing on issues of Canadian diplomacy, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, outer space security and international cyber security. 

James Horncastle

Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities, and Edward and Emily McWhinney Professor in International Relations 

James Horncastle is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and holder of the Edward and Emily McWhinney Professorship in International Relations at SFU. He is also a member of the steering committee for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies. His recent manuscript, The Macedonian Slavs in the Greek Civil War, 1944–1949, examines how the Macedonian Slavs' participation in the conflict, and the attempts by other groups to manipulate them, gave rise to modern issues that continue to affect politics in the region today. His research interests include: refugee and migration studies; international relations; conflict studies; history of modern Greece; and Yugoslav studies.

About the moderator

Megan MacKenzie

Professor and Simons Chair in International Law and Human Security, School for International Studies

Megan MacKenzie is a feminist scholar interested in war, security studies, post-conflict recovery and reconstruction, and military culture. Her work is broadly focused on the ways that gender matters in understanding war and insecurity and the ways that experiences of war and insecurity are shaped by gendered norms and sexism.

Megan has been studying military culture and gender integration in the military for over a decade, which includes projects on military sexual violence, the integration of women into combat roles, and military suicide. She also has worked on issues related to post-conflict transitions and feminist solutions to ending war. This work includes projects on disarmament programs, amnesty provisions in peace agreements, truth and reconciliation commissions, and a series and edited book on feminist solutions to ending war. Megan is also involved in a research hub on images and international relations, based at the University of Copenhagen.

Megan’s research has been funded by the Australian Research Council, the Independent Research Fund Denmark, and the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre. She held a fellowship at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs and the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Event partner


Further reading and resources

Ways to support people in Ukraine

Interviews and writing from our panelists on the war in Ukraine

Join us! Registration is free. We’ll also send an email recap to everybody who RSVPs, even if you can’t make the event.


Accessibility, technology and privacy


Closed captioning in English will be available at this event.

The event will be recorded, and a link to the captioned video recording will be emailed to all registrants after the event.


A link and password to access this online event will be emailed to all registrants via Eventbrite shortly before the event.

To engage in this online event, you will need a computer (laptop or desktop), tablet or smartphone, with speakers or headphones.

We recommend that you use a computer for the best experience of this event. Some interactivity and accessibility features are not available when using a smartphone or tablet.

Protecting your privacy

This event will be recorded, but only the speakers will be visible in the published recording. The recording will be shared with all registrants and published on SFU Public Square’s website, YouTube and social media channels.

To ensure that we are using online event technology in a privacy-conscious way, we are following best practices for this online event series:

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To protect your own privacy:

  • We remind you that whatever you say during the event is public, so please do not share sensitive information about yourself or others, and do not say anything you do not wish to enter the public domain.

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Community guidelines

Our community guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of all guest speakers and event participants, and to foster honest, socially accountable dialogue at our events. Thank you for respecting these guidelines!

  • Above all, there will be zero tolerance for those who promote violence or discrimination against others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, or disability. Anyone who incites harm towards other participants (whether through chat, video, audio or otherwise) will be removed at the discretion of our technical team and moderator.
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