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Drew University Political Science and International Relations Professors Host Panel on Ukraine-Russia War

The professors discussed the possible evolution of the crisis

March 2022 – Drew University political science and international relations professors hosted a panel discussion sharing their reflections on the Ukraine-Russia war.

The virtual event featured Timothy Carter, assistant teaching professor of international relations, Jason Jordan, associate professor of political science, Pheobe Tang, visiting assistant professor of political science and international relations, and Carlos Yordan, associate professor of international relations and director of the New York City Semester on the United Nations.

The group discussed the “why” behind the war and how we could expect the war to evolve in the future.

Carter kicked off the event with his perspective on the loss of Ukrainian civilian life. The seemingly unorganized Russian army, which has been “too small for their objective,” resulted in a focus on more civilian targets in residential areas and cities. “The Russians are suffering and unable to advance militarily as they expected, and any significant ability with combined arms has not appeared evident,” he said.

Further, Carter speculates that the siege tactics employed by Russia are likely to lead to more indirect violence against Ukrainian civilians through loss of access to food, medicine, and shelter.

The fear of Russian escalation—conventional military, cyber, or even nuclear—has limited the response from the United States. “Over the past few decades, Russia has adopted a looser doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons,” said Carter. “As a result, the West is constrained in what we can do to help.”

“Consequences of a military coup are unknown and quite scary.”

Jordan discussed the possible scenarios that could end the Putin regime, which has faced growing challenges over the past five years resulting in a significant increase in repression.

The Russian regime could be dismantled by Russian popular protests, which is possible “if the political elites are in disagreement with the political system,” said Jordan. However, there has been increased violence against protestors, open political assassinations, and direct assaults on the media are becoming more intense. “As of the past two weeks, there has been a complete elimination of independent media in Russia,” Jordan said.

Yordan questioned the United Nation’s ability to survive the war because the United Nations was not designed to address conflicts that involve permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, which include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, the UN can support Ukraine’s interests by providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and actively oppose Russia’s narrative of the war. “The main problem is that the United States and its allies prefer to pursue diplomacy outside the UN’s institutions,” said Yordan.

“In the near future, the Council’s politics will be more divisive, forcing members to negotiate many resolutions which were considered pro forma in the past.”

Tang explained China’s role in the conflict, referencing the strategic partnership between China and Russia unveiled at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, but challenged the mutual trust between the two countries. “China’s position is very awkward,” she said. “China wants to mitigate possible collateral damage by showcasing attempted peace talks.”

Jordan noted that a military coup could end the Putin regime. “Consequences of a military coup are unknown and quite scary.”

The lecture was part of the 2022 Janet T. Siler International Affairs Forum, an annual event made possible with a generous endowment honoring Janet T. Siler G’89.

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