The Russian invasion of Ukraine was the focus of Thursday afternoon’s roundtable discussion in Ott Auditorium.
The 90-minute roundtable included an explanation of how the former Soviet Union once comprised several current North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, emphasizing that the current conflict is in many ways influenced by the rich and complex history of this region in Europe.
The discussions, analyses and assessments revolved around the world wars, biological warfare, economic ramifications, the annexation of Crimea, the capture of Chernobyl, the military strategy and capabilities of Ukraine and Russia, modern warfare, nuclear arms, NATO countries, religion, demographics, sanctions and nationalism.
The panel was comprised of experts who could analyze and discuss the Ukraine conflict, including Associate Professor of Political Science Stewart French, Professor of History Nameeta Marthur, Adjunct Professor of Political Science Stephanie Zarb and Associate Professor of Political Science Julie Keil.
Kevin Lorentz is an Assistant professor of political science who moderated the event. He said his biggest challenge was choosing which audience questions to ask the panelists at the end.
“You cannot get through all of them, so you have to be strategic and efficient,” he said. “I decided to address questions from a thematic perspective.”
Lorentz also said he was pleased with the turnout and discussion that took place.
“I appreciated Dr. Mathur’s historical perspective on the conflict, which helps to add important context to explaining Russian aggression and motivations in Ukraine and Eastern Europe more generally,” Lorentz said. “This historical context helped to better understand the other panelists’ takes on the conflict.”
Garret Powell is a political science senior who attended the event to hear the different perspectives and analyses regarding the conflict between the two sovereign nations, a conflict Powell said he believes is critical.
“I think it is significant because it represents another country disagreeing with the conventional international order, i.e. western-centric international law,” he said.
Stephanie Zarb, one of the four panelists, said the four speakers focused on the role international law and organizations play in the current conflict.
“[It included a] geopolitical interpretation of the current conflict including a discussion of collective security agreements, a tactical discussion of current military operations, and a historical perspective on the region,” she said.
Zarb said it is important for students who want accurate information and in-depth analysis to attend the event.
“The current situation in Ukraine has caused a lot of questions and finding accurate information can be challenging,” she said. “This forum is being provided to bring our community together and to provide information on the current conflict from several different perspectives. Students should attend if they are interested in learning more about the current situation or have questions they would like answered.”
As a professor, Zarb said that many of her students and colleagues have expressed interest in understanding more about the ongoing crisis in Europe.
“Our goal in hosting this panel was to provide an opportunity for students to get their questions answered by faculty members who have expertise in a broad range of relevant subject areas,” Zarb said.