Susie Smalley demonstrates during the Many Voices Ukraine vigil on Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Susie Smalley demonstrates during the Many Voices Ukraine vigil on Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

KCHS grad returns to discuss war in Ukraine at Soldotna library

The presentation is titled “What the He** is He Thinking: Putin’s War in Ukraine.”

On Saturday, at the Soldotna Public Library, an expert on the war in Ukraine will lead a presentation on the ongoing conflict — including a look back at the first eight months of the invasion and the most surprising developments in that time, as well as a look forward with a discussion on whether the war has come to a stalemate, or “whether a breakthrough is on the horizon for Ukraine.”

The presentation is titled “What the He** is He Thinking: Putin’s War in Ukraine.” It starts at 4 p.m., and it will be led by Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, vice chair of the East Europe Foundation in Kyiv, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and Kenai Central High School graduate.

The presentation came together quickly, city librarian Rachel Nash said.

“It was just kind of a matter of people knowing other people … right place, right time.”

Another staff member at the library knew Haring, and a former KCHS teacher helped set it up.

Haring was already traveling to Anchorage to give the same presentation, and Nash said Haring wanted to share it with her hometown community as well.

Haring is uniquely qualified to both give a comprehensive account of the conflict, but also to give a distinctly local perspective as a former resident of the Kenai Peninsula, Nash said.

“A local person, who was raised here, is now a professional in this field of study,” Nash said. “She’s someone who is very knowledgeable about what is happening in Ukraine.”

Hosting the conversation is right in line with the library’s mission. The library, Nash said, is all about sharing information and helping people make informed decisions; promoting knowing about oneself and their neighbors.

“This is a chance for us all to learn a little bit more,” Nash said. “It’s definitely a matter of international interest, particularly in Alaska. We are geographically close to Russia and by extension Ukraine.”

Eight months since the start of the War in Ukraine, she said few are likely that well informed about it.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at

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