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mariupol theater before the russian bombing

The theater in Mariupol, Ukraine before the Russian bombing. | Oleksandr Malyon

March 18, 2022

Ukraine’s Cultural Sites Under Threat from Russia’s Invasion


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The theater in Mariupol that was reduced to rubble when it was bombed by Russian forces on March 16 is just one example of the risk the war poses to Ukraine’s important cultural sites. Memorials, museums and churches, all places that speak to Ukraine’s very identity, are all under threat from Russia’s invasion. Jeffrey Brown reports for our arts and culture series, “CANVAS.” NOTE: This piece contains some disturbing images of war. Please review all material before sharing with your classroom.

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Discussion Questions

  • Who are some of the people interviewed in this piece, and what are their backgrounds?
  • What are some of the cultural heritage sites already damaged or destroyed in this war?
  • When did Ukraine gain its independence and start building new cultural institutions?
  • What are Ukrainians and others doing to protect some of these cultural heritage sites?
  • How are Ukrainians trying to protect their cultural heritage sites?

Focus Questions

What does Ihor Poshyvalio mean when he says, “The target is our historical memory, our cultural traditions, our national and individual identity, our memory and identity as a nation.” Why do you think these would be targets?

Media literacy: What else would you like to know about cultural heritage sites that is not covered in this piece?

Additional Resources

What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as mentioned in this piece? UNESCO is the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and it designates special cultural sites throughout the world with international legal protections. You can check out a map of them here. Which site is closest to where you live? What do you notice about the list?

Understanding the War in Ukraine

Learn more about the crisis unfolding in Ukraine with resources we've gathered on this developing topic.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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