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ASU graduate student publishes op-eds on experiences in Ukraine

Melikian Center graduate affiliate and master’s student of liberal studies reports from Ukraine

Man posing in front of large statue

Rob Cuthbert in Ukraine. Courtesy image

February 06, 2024

As a U.S. Army Ranger, Rob “Pyotr” Cuthbert was wholly committed to his duty to serve his country. Now, he’s still serving his country — and the rest of the world.   

Cuthbert, a master’s student of liberal studies at Arizona State University and a graduate affiliate of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies, recently published two op-eds in major international newspapers: “Americans must pressure Congress to approve support for Ukraine” in the Boston Globe, and “The war in Ukraine demands a single-minded focus” in the Chicago Tribune.

In the former, Cuthbert describes his experience attending Christmas Eve mass in the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kherson, near the frontlines of the war. When asked why he decided to risk his own safety to go to Ukraine, Cuthbert said, “I am no longer a soldier, but I am a writer and journalist, and I want to help bring the truth of the war in Ukraine to the world.”

Cuthbert is set to deliver a presentation titled "Freelance Reported Opinion Writing and Reflections on Reporting in Ukraine” at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Cronkite School's Current Foreign Affairs and International Reporting (CFAIR) Organization, taking place in room 404H of the Cronkite Building.

The presentation will detail his experience traveling across Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and the two weeks he spent in Ukraine as a journalist reporting for the podcast “Article One with Molly Hooper.”

Cuthbert credits his education at the Melikian Center’s Critical Languages Institute with giving him the tools he needed to report on the Russia-Ukraine war. The center, which hosts intensive summer language programs at ASU, allowed Cuthbert, a veteran of two wars and an award-winning opinion journalist, to not only have superlative classroom instruction in Tempe, but also, for two summers in a row (2022 and 2023), to engage in life-changing immersion study in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, which he later built upon by taking advanced Russian courses at ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures.

“In the fall of 2023, Professor Moldabekova Robb and Professor Hoogenboom provided me with the historical, political, linguistic and analytical knowledge to report from Eastern Ukraine,” Cuthbert said.

Subsequently, Keith Brown, director of the Melikian Center, extended an invitation to Cuthbert to join the center as a graduate affiliate, making him the exclusive affiliate through both the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and their Master of Liberal Studies program.

“I did not have the resources of a major news organization, but I had an incredible amount of support through the professors at the Melikian Center, the Critical Languages Institute and the School of International Letters and Cultures” Cuthbert said, adding, “As an Arizonan and a Sun Devil, I thought it was important that I bore witness to the war.”

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