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Kathryn David

Mellon Assistant Professor of Russian and East European Studies

Expert in the history of Soviet Ukraine and Russia.


Kathryn David specializes in the history of Soviet Ukraine and Russia. Her research interests include connections between religious and national belonging, the Second World War and its aftermath in the Soviet Union, and the legacies of the Russian and Habsburg empires in 20th century Europe. Her current book project, One Ukraine, Under God examines how the officially atheist Soviet state used religious institutions to govern and transform its newly Soviet populations in western Ukraine during and after the Second World War.

Media Appearances

  • Russian attack kills 22 on Ukraine's Independence Day; US pledges nearly $3B in new military aid

    Celebrating the day it declared independence from the Soviet Union – Aug. 24, 1991 – has been a way for Ukraine to push away from its former status as a Soviet republic, said Kathryn David, assistant professor of Russian and East European studies at Vanderbilt University.

    August 24th, 2022

  • When Putin says Russia and Ukraine share one faith, he’s leaving out a lot of the story

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has often asserted that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.” He points to a few factors: the Russian language spoken widely in both countries, their similar cultures, and the two countries’ political connections, which date back to medieval times. But there is one more factor that ties all these together: religion.

    March 25th, 2022

  • Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

    Ukraine and Russia are two countries that border each other in Eastern Europe. On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia sent its army into Ukraine and began trying to take over the country by force. This invasion surprised many people, as it was the first major war in Europe for decades. But Russia and Ukraine have had a difficult relationship for centuries. To understand what’s happening now you have to dig into 1,300 years of history.

    March 7th, 2022

  • WATCH: Vanderbilt professor breaks down 'massive escalation' of Russia-Ukraine conflict

    A Vanderbilt University professor spoke with FOX 17 News to break down the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

    February 22nd, 2022

  • History reveals what Putin really wants to do in Ukraine

    Over the past few weeks, reports have emerged that Russia has been building up its forces on the Ukrainian border. With these actions, Russia seems to be signaling that it is prepared to intensify its military intervention in Ukraine that began with the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has alleged that Russia is not just prepared to invade but is also plotting a coup against him. As the world attempts to make sense of these developments, the fundamental question that has haunted this conflict for the past seven years remains at play: What is Putin’s ultimate goal in Ukraine?

    December 7th, 2021


Ph.D., New York University

B.A., Colgate University


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