Discussion reviews US role in Ukraine crisis


Sarah Montgomery

Keith Livers, associate professor in the department of Slavic and Eurasian studies, talks about Russian idealism during a Q-and-A hosted by the International Affairs Society. The panel featured four professors who discussed the current conflicts between Russia and Ukraine. 

Wynne Davis

Ukraine isn’t enough of a U.S. priority to warrant military involvement, although Russia has shown its willingness to use military force, according to government professor Robert Moser in an on-campus roundtable discussion Wednesday.

Slavic and Eurasian studies professors discussed the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine as part of “Putin’s Russia and Eastern Europe,” sponsored by the International Affairs Society.

Moser, who also serves as chair of the government department, said the U.S. doesn’t plan to go to war with Russia.

“Ukraine is more important to Russia than it is to the United States and western Europe,” Moser said. “Ukraine has been historically viewed as sort of part of Russia, in its sphere of influence. If you lose Ukraine, from a certain perspective … you lose sort of the heart of the Slavic homeland, and there’s genuine fear that core interests — military, social, political, as well as economic interests — would be violated if Ukraine became part of the [European Union].”

Moser said the U.S. government remains firm in its decision to refrain from taking military action because of the notable effects economic sanctions have had on the Russian economy. He also said each country’s military view of Ukraine differs greatly — with Russia having higher stakes in the region because of its proximity. 

Wesley Howard, a government and international and global studies senior and director of programs for the society, said the topic was chosen for the round table in January, before most people knew about the events going on in the region.

“We didn’t expect the crisis to occur in the timely manner it did, but … a lot of interest got spurred … [and] the professors were relatively talkative and wanting to join onto the panel,” Howard said. “A lot of people pretty interested in the region think it seems difficult for the region to overcome because what precedent does it set for future invasions or future Russian power proliferations?”

Mary Neuburger, professor and chair in the department of Slavic and Eurasian studies, said she thinks reports from and about the situation are lacking perspective from the region where Ukraine used to be part of Russia.

“There’s an easy way to watch the media and go, ‘Yeah, Russia’s evil,’… and I think there’s this story that‘s being fed to Americans — a very uncomplicated narrative of Russia’s evil, Putin’s evil, they’re taking up the Ukraine … and I think part of the problem is a consistency problem for us on foreign policy,” Neuburger said.