In light of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to reclaim the formerly Ukrainian region of Crimea and the resulting international relations conflict, members of the Hobart and William Smith and Cornell faculty will convene on Wednesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Huntington Smith Library for a discussion titled “Ukraine, Russia, and the Current Crisis.” The forum is open to the public and will be broadcast on WEOS-FM.
“We wanted to give people an opportunity to learn about that region of the world,” says Associate Professor of Russian Area Studies Kristen Welsh, who will introduce the panelists and moderate the discussion. “Those attending will be able to get a better sense of the factors motivating Russia on the world scene today as well as what the 21st century relations among superpowers can be. The situation is perplexing, disturbing and frightening. We don’t have all the answers but we can offer some information based on our areas of study.”
Representing various areas of expertise, the panelists include Professor of Political Science and Russian Area Studies David Ost, Visiting Assistant Professor of History Tatyana Bakhmetyeva, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations Kevin Dunn, and Kateryna Pishchikova, a post-doctoral fellow at the Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University.
In February, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia drew international attention when protestors seized control of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Following protests, pro-Russian forces took control of buildings in the Crimea, which prompted international outcry against the intervention. In early March, residents of Crimea voted to join Russia in a referendum deemed illegal by the Ukrainian government and Western nations. The United States and its Western European Allies have responded by imposing various sanctions on Russia.
“The conflict is relevant because it is going to shape both international and domestic politics for a long time to come. After two decades of on-and-off cooperation between western states and Russia, these events set in motion a period of very cool relations, and signal Russia’s return to great-power status,” Ost says. “Hobart and William Smith people should also note the perhaps odd but likely local implication of these developments: since Russia is the major supplier of natural gas to Europe, there has been a spate of recent calls for the U.S. to begin exporting gas to Europe as well. This call is likely to lead to even more fracking for gas in the U.S.”
During the forum each panelist will have the opportunity to describe and elaborate on his or her perspective regarding the situation in Russia and Ukraine. A question-and-answer session with the audience will be held following these remarks.
Sponsored by the HWS Russian Area Studies Program, Department of Political Science and International Relations Program, the panel’s purpose is both to increase awareness of factors driving the international conflict as well as to highlight the richness of an interdisciplinary approach to studying the former Soviet bloc.