Russia and Ukraine: what are the stakes of this crisis?

As Russian forces close in on Kiev, ‘a new world order’ is upon us and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will echo for years to come, according to North West political scientist and expert Jordan Gans-Morse of the former Soviet Union.

In order to make sense of the developing news, Northwestern Now asked Gans-Morse and several other experts to chime in.

Ian Kelly is Northwestern’s Ambassador-in-Residence. Karen Alter is the Norman Dwight Harris Professor of International Relations and co-director of the Global Capitalism and Law Research Group. Ian Hurd is a professor of political science. And, Michael Allen is an associate professor of history.

How does this situation impact the rest of the world?

“The battle between democracy and authoritarianism is unfolding not just in Ukraine, but across Russia’s periphery,” said Ian Kelly. “Putin doesn’t want his neighbors to become successful democracies. For him, preventing neighbors from adopting Western, democratic standards, and forcing them to stay in the Russian orbit, is existential.”

What is the real power of sanctions against Russia?

“Bullets and tanks are the way Russia can win a battle, but bullets and tanks are not the way Russia can win this war, nor can they deliver Putin what he wants. want the most,” said Karen Alter.

“For a military offensive, it may make sense to go into it with shock and admiration. For sanctions, a gradual strategy is, by design, necessary and best. The goal is to send a cascading message that the conquest does not pay. The more violence, the greater the cost Putin will pay. The more violence, the more others will join the sanctions system. This means that the sanctions roll out in waves, spreading pain so that Putin’s supporters themselves begin to question the war and Putin’s reason for waging this war.

If so, how will the sanctions be effective?

“The rest of the world doesn’t have the tools to stop Putin from taking over Ukraine,” said Ian Hurd. “Russia’s military power is easily capable of taking over the country, as long as Moscow is prepared to cause massive damage and bear the costs for Russia.”

“The best strategies are those that target the economic lifelines of Putin and his cohort. The Russian government makes its money from selling petroleum products to the world, and its elites hide their share of that wealth in foreign accounts and investments. For example, the United States and others could block the flow of money to Russia by refusing to buy Russian oil and gas and also block the outflow of money by seizing the assets of oligarchs around the world. whole. And the UK could take back its real estate in London and sports teams across the country, and cut the Russian English-language television network, RT, from its airwaves.

Is this Putin’s way of restoring the Soviet empire?

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would seem to mark not only his determination to move beyond the post-Cold War status quo, but also to restore Russia’s place in the world order as it existed before the World War I, at a time when Russia stood alongside other European empires and the Empire of Japan, and a time before the United States emerged as the world’s leading power,” said Michael Allen.

“Ironically, Europe’s desire to avoid such a return to its bloody past probably encouraged its decision and may mean it is unchecked, at least militarily. But what Putin forgets is that Imperial Russia was never internally strong, which is why it first crumbled in World War I before collapsing again to end the Cold War. does now solves this problem.

How does all this change the world?

“We have come to realize today a new world order, one in which dictators again find license to impose their will on weaker neighbors by force,” said Jordan Gans-Morse.

“The consequences of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine will reverberate for years to come, affecting everything from his own prospects for staying in power to China’s calculations about its policy toward Taiwan. In the meantime, Ukrainians will suffer greatly, and the rest of the world must remember the sacrifice they are making as they seek to repel Putin’s illegal invasion.

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