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UD hosts panel to explore topics related to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Delaware Public Media

The University of Delaware hosted a panel discussion this week to help better understand the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A group of scholars with different expertise gathered to help untangle the historical significance of the attack on Ukraine, the possible motivations behind it, the timing of it and what may happen next.

UD History professor David Shearer specializes in Soviet and twentieth-century European history. He notes that while media coverage shows Russia failing to swiftly take over Ukraine, it is too early to draw conclusions.

“The war I think will intensify. It will become extraordinarily brutal over the next days and weeks,” said Shearer. “Putin, at least right now, cannot back down. He will destroy his legacy, he will destroy everything that he has staked his reputation on.”

Panelists noted that while Putin gained popularity in Russia for his ability to create economic and social stability, the recent crumbling of its economy is already having a negative effect on Putin’s reputation.

His next steps, as Shearer noted, may not be motivated at all by public opinion in Russia, but rather the need to maintain control no matter what.

Russia moving its nuclear forces into “special combat readiness” also reignited concerns about the threat of nuclear war.

Stuart Kaufman is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. He says that threat should be taken very seriously.

“Putin keeps on making these nuclear weapons threats, and we have to take that very, very seriously. First he had, before the war, he had a nuclear weapons drill,” Kaufman emphasized. “Then, he explicitly said ‘hey remember guys we have nuclear weapons and we’re not afraid to use them’- in effect. And then he put his nuclear weapons on alert.”

Kaufman adds that while NATO may want to intervene militarily, it's almost impossible given the threat of nuclear war.

However, he notes other intervention tactics, such as economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure, are likely to continue moving forward.

The panel followed a rally on campus to show support for Ukraine against Russian forces.

It was organized by junior Greg Tarnavskyi from Ukraine, and his roommate, senior Vlad Krylov from Russia.

UD President Dennis Assanis and his wife, Eleni, joined students at the rally, thanking the organizers for demonstrating their support for Ukraine.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021