The Russia-Ukraine Conflict (with Kiril Tomoff & Paul D'Anieri)
The Russia-Ukraine Conflict (with Kiril Tomoff & Paul D'Anieri)
In this episode, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities Kiril Tomoff and Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Paul D'Anieri talk with students from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
FEATURING Kiril Tomoff & Paul D'Anieri
March 15th, 2022
52 MINUTES AND 32 SECONDS
In this episode, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities Kiril Tomoff and Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Paul D'Anieri talk with students from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy about the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
About Kiril Tomoff:
Kiril Tomoff is the Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCR. His research interests include the intersection of musical life and Russian and Soviet history, as well as twentieth-century world history, transnational cultural exchange, and the Cold War.
Learn more about Kiril Tomoff via https://profiles.ucr.edu/app/home/profile/kiril
About Paul D'Anieri:
Paul D’Anieri is a Professor of Political Science and Public Policy. He studies politics in the former Soviet Union, focusing on Ukraine and on Ukraine-Russia relations. He also teaches and studies economics and budgeting in universities, based on his experience as an administrator at UCR, the University of Florida, and the University of Kansas.
Learn more about Paul D'Anieri via https://profiles.ucr.edu/app/home/profile/danieri
“Putin and the other Russian nationalist elites around him fear the emergence of a democratically elected state with a functioning civil society in Ukraine, not because such a state poses a direct threat to Russia, but because the example it provides for Russians who might unfavorably compare that to the regime he's created in Russia.”
- Kiril Tomoff on the topic of Putin's underlying fears and goals embedded in the motives over the Ukrainian invasion.
“Putin's entire basis of power is based on the idea that democracy was a disaster and that Russia is not suited for democracy and democracy is not suited for Russia.”
- Paul D'Anieri on the topic of Putin's anti-democratic stance.
Kiril Tomoff (Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities)
Paul D'Anieri (Professor of Political Science and Public Policy)
Kevin Karami (UCR Public Policy Major, Dean’s Chief Ambassador)
Mufida Assaf (UCR Business and Political Science Double Major, Executive Vice President of ASUCR)
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This is a production of the UCR School of Public Policy: https://spp.ucr.edu/
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Kevin Karami: Welcome to policy chats, the official podcast of the School of Public Policy at the University of California Riverside. I'm your host, Kevin Karami. Join me and my classmates as we learn about potential policy solutions for today's biggest societal challenges.
Kevin Karami: Joining us today is UCR Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, Kiril Tomoff and Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Paul D’Anieri. My fellow classmate Mulfida Assaf and I chatted with them about the Russia, Ukraine conflict. Kiril Tomoff is the Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. His research areas include Russian and Soviet history, the Cold War, and the 20th century world. Paul D’Anieri is a professor of political science and public policy. His research areas include Russia and the Soviet Union and specifically on Ukraine, Russia relations. I'm also pleased to welcome Mulfida Assaf, our ASUCR executive vice president, who will be joining me as a co-host for today's episode. Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules to join me today on the podcast.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: Thank you.
Paul D’Anieri: Thank you.
Kevin Karami: I know this is a really, really heavy, heavy topic and an important topic at that because of the current events going on. So I want to get straight into it and I thought it'd be a great way, a great way to start the episode would be to talk about the history of this conflict. And given that Associate Dean Tomoff is a historian on this issue specifically, you can get us started. So Associate Dean Tomoff. Can you give us the background of this issue, the 20th century relations in terms of developments, in terms of the Ukraine, Russia conflict. What happened in the past that has caused this issue to persist and lead us here today.
Associate Dean Kirkil Tomoff: Yeah, I'd be happy to. I should start by saying that the relationship between Russia and Ukraine and in particular, Ukrainian history in the 20th century is a long and complex and deep one. And so I think maybe it would be helpful if I sort of framed the 20th century history of Ukraine around a couple of specific claims that Vladimir Putin made about the 20th century history of Ukraine. That in his justification for the expanded invasion that started last week. And also with his attempt to associate the Ukrainian leadership with fascism. Putin’s justification for the invasion was filled with profound historical distortions. So it might be easy to dismiss those distortions as unhinged ravings, but I think that they're revealing. One of Putin's claims is that we have Lenin to thank for the very existence of Ukraine. Of course, this simply isn't true, but it has its roots in the very early, immediate post-revolutionary period of Soviet history. So let me start there. Remember, the Bolsheviks were a Marxist revolutionaries who believed that class was the most important division in society. At the time of the Revolution, most Bolsheviks considered nationalism to be a form of false consciousness, sort of dangerous. a dangerous form of force called consciousness that was in the service of the bourgeoisie and distracted people from the more important and more revolutionary class consciousness and particularly proletarian consciousness that they imagine themselves as leading and as justifying their revolution. But Lenin was a pragmatist as well as a Marxist. And he observed in the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the mobilization of significant segments of the population in the Russian Empire during the Russian Civil War. That national identity and national aspirations that are inherent in nationalism could be really powerful mobilizing tools. So Lenin and the architects of the early Soviet nationalities policy essentially sought to co-opt that tool and harness it to the service of the revolution. So Putin is not wrong that in some places the Bolsheviks actually set out to create nationalities where such focused identities didn't, didn't yet exist. But he's profoundly wrong that one of those places was Ukraine. In fact, it was vibrant and powerful nationalist mobilization in Ukraine and the trans Caucasus regions that most clearly demonstrated to the Bolsheviks and the need to accommodate and maybe co-opt nationalist sentiment. And here's where I think the examples especially illustrative for the contemporary situation. The Bolsheviks eventually thought that cultivating the outward forms of Ukrainian national expression, so a defined territory, promotion of the Ukrainian language, cultivation of Ukrainian arts. The promotion of a national political elite and so forth would help project Soviet influence abroad, especially to a large Ukrainian minority. In the new post-World War I state of Poland, which was in the process of constituting itself as a new nation state with a very large Ukrainian national minority located in Eastern Poland. The idea was that Soviet Ukraine and the promotion of these forms of Ukrainian national identity would be appealing to Ukrainians living in Poland. And the idea was that they would think, Hey, look what's happening in Soviet Ukraine. They've got all of these opportunities. That would be, it'd be great to be part of that instead of part of this. So the idea was that Ukrainian allowing the expressions of Ukrainian national state would within the confines of the Soviet Union, would project a positive image of the Soviet Union abroad. So we don't have time to get into the details of how and why that goal failed. But it did with famously tragic consequences for the Ukrainian population. So suffice it to say that by the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Bolshevik leadership in Moscow came to believe that the influence of national identity was actually flowing the other way across the Polish Soviet border. They falsely attributed the widespread peasant opposition to their catastrophic policies regarding the collectivization of agriculture, at least in part to Ukrainian nationalism. It wasn't actually about Ukrainian nationalism, but that was what sort of investigative team from Moscow determined when they went to look into this opposition to their catastrophic Policies. The result was an intensification of the collectivization campaign and the resultant mass famine known in Ukraine as Holodomor. So how do these historical details relate to Putin's claim and provide a key? I think that Putin to motivations. Well, the common thread to the original soviet nationality policy that Putin distorted the national explanation of peasant opposition to collectivization that led to Holodomor. And Putin’s claim, is Ukraine as a model for the political possibilities in neighboring states? Putin and the other Russian nationalists eliets around him, I think fear the emergence of a democratically elected state with a functioning civil society in Ukraine. Not because such a state poses a direct threat to Russia, but because the example that it provides for Russians who might unfavorably compare that functioning democratic state with the civil society to the regime that he's created in Russia. The threat is exactly, exactly the example that the emergence of Zelenskyy in particular poses to his idea within Russia. Which brings me to the second part of the question. That's Putin absurd claim that Zelenskyy is a fascist. Now there are so many grounds on which this absurdity can be refuted that it might be better simply to dismiss it as unhinged raving. But like even the most outrageous conspiracy theories, there's a little kernel that connects the absurd to the real-world that the rest of us inhabit and perceive in this case that kernel is related both to the continuation of the Soviet Ukrainian story under Stalin, to the mass protests in late 2013 and early 2014 that drove the last pro Russian President of Ukraine out of the country. Posited Ukraine as a bastion of the West on Russia's doorstep, and prompted the illegal Russian occupation of Crimea. And the illegitimate referendum that defacto annexed Crimea to Russia. And the formation of the breakaway regions in Donbass. Um, that provided the other sort of rationale for, for Putin and his, his current escalation of the invasion. So let's continue the story by backing up to the mid Smith, mid-century during World War II were Ukraine and Belarus. Whereas sites of some of the most horrific battles, the characteristically brutal Nazi occupation regime that was established across the Eastern Front. And the mass atrocities perpetrated by, by that Nazi occupation regime. But near the end of the war, some Ukrainian nationalists who had collaborated with the Nazis and hopes of securing an independent Ukraine At war's end. Some of these nationalist organized military units to fight against the Red Army and the re-incorporation of Ukraine into the Soviet Union. Now, this military force was never large enough to slow the Soviet advance. I don't think it had a particularly strong hold on a Ukrainian population that had been thoroughly brutalized by the Nazi occupation. But it did remain a challenge for the Soviets even after the war, as they sought to incorporate new Ukrainian territories, especially in what was now the new far western areas of Ukraine. The area that was the Soviet Union expanded territorially to the west at the end of World War II, incorporating exactly those parts of Poland that had been that we're in which the large Ukrainian minority lived. Incorporating especially those segments of Ukraine into the Soviet Union was a challenge, in part because of the continued resistance of these forces. So that's the sort of war and immediate post-war story. Let's fast forward back to 2013-14. In those large and initially really unorganized protests, there were some small splinter groups of the radical right, which exists in Ukraine like it does elsewhere in Europe, who took the ultra nationalist symbols and slogans from that World War II era, collaborationist but nationalist resistance. Now stripped of the World War II contexts, those symbols played a role in the iconography of protests that was much larger than the ultra nationalist influence on the course of events or their sway over the Ukrainian population. So the symbols are somewhat detached, but they were nevertheless integral symbols that were derived from those mid-century events.At the time. Putin, the Russian elite, and I think some pro Russian Ukrainians, especially in the East, seized on the prominence of those symbols to varying degrees. Explain the whole Maidan movement as a relaunch of the ultra nationalist right-wing strain of Ukrainian nationalism that can be shorthanded as fascist or, or even neo-Nazis. Ever since, I think Putin and his circle have used fascist or neo-Nazis as shorthand for the Western facing leadership factions in Ukraine, even as the actual radical right has received almost no support in Ukrainian electrons, I think there are like four ultra nationalist Ukrainian political parties. And to combine, they have a total of one seat in the Ukrainian Parliament. So this is a much lower influence on Ukrainian domestic policy politics then is even the case in sort of the core of Western Europe. But that association with anyone that's pro-West, any leadership in the Putin's imagination with fascist and neo-Nazis persists. As a not insignificant side note, I'll just conclude by saying that every Soviet and Russian regime since World War II, including Putin's, has tried usually successfully, to use the myth of the war as a cornerstone for building their own legitimacy. The language of fighting against fascism is so deeply embedded in Russian patriotic culture that I think it'd be more surprising if it didn't surface during a military conflict than if it did. Even if it's completely unhinged. From even a common sense understanding of what fascism actually is. I hope that gives a sense of the political and the sort of historical background to the current conflict. Especially the way that the manipulations of that history have played into Putin's imagination as he tries to justify the unjustifiable.
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Mufida Assaf: Thank you for your answer, Associate Dean Tomoff, I found it very interesting and it definitely helped me better understand the history between Russia and Ukraine. But before we move on to the next question, specifically the modern aspect of this issue. What are your thoughts on the democratic ideology in Russia and how profound Putin’s or the Russian governments fear is.Then Professor D’Anieri, please feel free to give your answer as well.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: So I think this is a tricky question to answer because we dont, I think have especially good tools to measure sort of popular sentiment in Russia precisely because of the effectiveness of the Putin regimes Efforts to constrict the spheres of the free flow of ideas, particularly about contemporary Russian politics. Um, and so I think it's hard to know. What does the sort of average Russian on the street? Think? Also, I think it probably varies depending on what street we're talking about, whether it's a in Moscow or St.Petersburg, or whether a sort of regionally significant city or in the rural areas of Russia. I think that there's probably a high level of variance. I think we can see from the, what to me is a really striking level of protests against the war that some segment of the Russian population opposes what is happening right now. Consequences for demonstrating are extremely severe right now. So many people aren't doing it anyway, I think is telling the other hand, I think it's also probably the case that many Russians, I won't characterize them as most or anything because I think I can't. believe the image of the war and its lead up that they see in mainstream Russian media, which is a very different one than our understanding in The West with much less constricted media. I saw something just this morning where they are on camera asking a woman showing her pictures of devastation and Ukraine and saying, what do you think of this? And she just said, I'm for Putin. To every question or answer was I'm for Putin. Well, what does that response mean? It doesn't mean she's for Putin. Where does it mean you've got a camera on my face. I'm gonna say I'm for Putin, no matter what you ask me, I don't think we can really know. I think it's a really difficult question to answer.
Paul D’Anieri: I would just add to this particular question of Putin's fear of Ukraine. As an example, there's two-dimensions to the fear. one is a sort of a broad sort of demonstration effect. Putin keeps on saying Ukraine and Russia are the same people. So if Ukraine can live in a democracy, right? That says to the Russians, to Russia that they can live in a democracy. And Putin's entire basis of power is really based on the idea that democracy for the few years it had it in the 1990s was a disaster. And that, and that Russia, Russia is not suited to democracy. Democracy is not suited to Russia. But there's a more specific thing that he really fears and actually I think viscerally hates. That's the idea of overthrowing rulers through street protests. He hated it when it took place. When a, when a rigged election in Ukraine in 2004 that would have put a pro Russian ruler in place, was overturned through street protests, what we call the Orange Revolution. Something similar happened in Georgia, something similar happened in Serbia. He, he, he absolutely hated what happened in the Arab Spring. And then at the same time as the Arab Spring, he saw protests in Moscow itself and in cities in Russia because he had just run a basically a rigged parliamentary election. Just one little tidbit is John McCain, who was still alive at that time an the US senator from Arizona. And he had been presidential candidate by that time. Tweeted at that time of the Arab Spring on the one hand in these protests in Moscow on the other, he tweeted on deer Vlad, the Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you. That I don't think was an especially diplomatic thing to say, even though it was cheeky and a little bit maybe funny, which is convinced Putin, of something aren't helped to convince him, I think of something you already believed that these revolutions and especially the ones in Ukraine, were not indigenous Ukrainian revolution. But it was an American plot. It was, it was a plot to get him. The fact of the matter is the United States government and actually Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time. They made no bones about the fact that they would love to see him deposed through street protests. And so he sees democracy not only is something unsuited for Russia, but as a geopolitical weapon against the greatness of Russia. That I think helps explain why he feels like he needs to stomp this out.
Kevin Karami: Thank you, professors D’Anieri and Associate Dean Tomoff for answering the kind of difficult question because as associate dean Tomoff did mentioned it's kind of hard to know exactly what the landscape is in terms of the population and how they feel about, about democratic government in Russia Specifically. I do want to ask one more question before we talk about the current conflict. Just a quick follow-up. We've talked about a lot about like Putin spheres and how he manipulates history and they'd all of these different factors. I just want to hear your thoughts. You know, is this, can we talk this up to a simple beat? Something as simple as he's an authoritative dictator and he has a regime and he doesn't want to lose it. Is it as simple as that, or is there something more to this? Is there something deeper, more deeply embedded within Putin and his government that is causing all of this to happen? Or is it as simple as hes power hungry? And is a classic example of someone who doesn't want to lose that power and tries to justify these irrational thoughts and actions with misinformation. Is it as simple as that or is there more to it and maybe associate dean Tomoff, you can get us started with that.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: I think that's part of it, but I think it is more, there is more to it than that. And I think that the sort of main dimension of that extra sense is that this is not just about his personal power, although it is that, but it's also about his ability to use that power to reassert the importance of Russia on the world stage. I think that he thinks of himself as the agent. Of that and again in his, in his notion necessary global development. So he's, he's eager to cling to power, I think in and of itself. But more importantly, he's a year to cling to power because he thinks he's the one who can reassert Russia on the world stage. That's my sense.
Professor Paul D’Anieri: Yes, I think, I think that's right. Um, you know, especially as a social scientist, we always want to give single causal explanations for things. But in the real-world, policymakers live in, they like to do things that serve multiple goals at the same time. So simply put, if we talk about what Putin is doing now or what he did in 2014 seizing Crimea and invading Eastern Ukraine. It really did three things. It helped him in his campaign to subjugate Ukrainian. Jammed a thumb and the eye of the collective West and said, See you can't tell me what to do. And if bolstered his popularity on at home that specifically referring to the seizure of Crimea in 2014. To get back to the point that, that Professor Tomoff raised, I'm not so sure how popular this current invasion is or will be once people get a better sense of it. What's interesting about Russian public opinion, and if you go back ten years or so before there was more of a clampdown. We had some public opinion polls out of Russia that I think we feel like we have some confidence in. And they say sort of two things. I think that are contradictory, but there's nothing that says public opinion has to be completely consistent. One is, I think most Russians wanted to live in a democracy, but not the kind of chaos they lived in, in the 1990s, which was more due to Soviet collapse them to democracy. But I think in their minds they've come to associate it with, with democracy. But the other is they really like Putin. They really like Putin because they have the sense that he brought order out of chaos and that he helped re-establish Russia's national pride. And so I think they're a little bit conflicted in that way. Now, my best guess is that even though most Russians agree with Putin, that Russia, Ukraine ought to be part of Russia. I am also guessing that most of them don't think that an outright war of the sort we're seeing now is the way to go about it.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: I would agree with that last point. My sense is that to the extent that they know that that's what it is, they oppose it. Just unclear yet whether they know that.
Professor Paul D’Anieri: Can I talk a little bit about public opinion in Ukraine? Because there's an important point to be made here. Kiril kind of finished his history roughly around 1991, and he did a fabulous job jamming so much history into, into a short period of time. Just briefly when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, there were many people among the Russian elite and the Russian public who objected from the very beginning to the idea that Ukraine would be separate. They wanted the end of communism. They didn't really mind if, if Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan went in another direction. But to them, Ukraine was Russia. And I want to stress that that predated, predated any discussion of NATO expansion. This idea that Russia, number one, has to control Ukraine in number two Russia still has to be a great power. In that phrase, great power was used over and over and over again. And I stress that because there's this idea that this was all caused by NATO expansion. And it can't be caused by NATO expansion if it started before that. But what I want to stress is that when Ukraine announced its secession from the collapsing Soviet Union in August 1991, they scheduled a referendum. They held a referendum, it wouldn't have so free and fair referendum all across the territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, and the whole bit. And across the country, the vote in favor of independence, I think all told was it was right around 80%. It was overwhelmingly in favor of independence. And what I want to stress is in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast the two areas that Putin has now sort of recognize the independence of. In both of those Oblast, it was 78% in favor of independence, even in Crimea. And Sevastopol, which is the capital of Crimea, but it is treated as a separate entity.It was over 50%. When we have sort of good not rigged referenda like the one Putin threw in 2014. All of these people, in all of these regions of majority voted to be part of an independent Ukraine. And I think that's democracy begins anything that's worth taking into account a lot of more history between them between 1991-2022, I'm gonna give you the very short version of it, which is to say initially, especially when Yeltsin was the president. There was a mix of this. This, this Ukrainians can't manage economically without us. It'll collapse without us. They'll come back with their tail between their legs begging us to let them back in. That didn't happen. And then there was a sort of we’ll cajole them back in by cutting off the gas. By fostering some separate dissentiment in Crimea or in the Donbas. That didn't work. Then in 2004 and again in 2010 they. Well, 2004 they tried to insert their own guy through a rigged election. In 2010, there guy got elected freely and fairly.Viktor Yanukovych. But he basically did a bunch of things that may be Ukrainians mad and then repress protests. Again. It didn't go Russia's way. So in 2014 they invaded. Even the invasion, which occupied a bunch of Ukrainian territory did not get Ukrainian to do what Russia wanted, which was to say, yes, we’ll be neutral. We'll come back into your fold. I think what we see now is this long-term set of lesser measures has not gotten the job done that Putin wants done. And so now he sees two things. Ukraine continues to move closer to the West. And maybe time is, maybe it's gonna get harder, not easier to do this in the future. And Putin himself might feel that he's running out of time. But I guess really, I think the important point to stress is there's been this consistency overtime of Russia saying, you're gonna come back whether you like it or not. And Ukrainian saying no were not.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: Can I just add to that, that I think that the action that has Putin, Putin in particular, as actions have gotten more, have moved along that spectrum to the more extreme. The results of them has been to push Ukraine even further toward the west. In other words, they continually Not just don't work, they backfire. Yeah. I think that 2014 is the clearest cut case of that. I mean, Ukrainian was the 2010 election. The Russian guy won very evenly divided. But after 2014, much, much less. So that's sort of pro-Russian sentiment. That was there is much reduced. I think that this particular one, we don't know what the outcome is gonna be, but the initial outcome with respect to sentiment, I think is even more extreme.
Processor Paul D’Anieri: There's no doubt.
Kevin Karami: Thank you both for elaborating on the complexities of the issue and thank you, Professor D’Anieri for also talking about the last 20 to 30 years and how we ended up where we are now, where just a few weeks ago the invasion happened. My next question, I want to focus on two major talking points that I've seen. A lot of people talk about, whether that's what the media or whatnot on the first one is on. Is there any precedent for this kind of invasion, this, this sort of war in modern history? I know we can go far back enough you might be able to find some, but is this something that as President, I know a lot of people were talking about how this war was a kind of a relic of the past, something that we don't we don't involve ourselves in anymore yet it happened. And so what I'd like to hear your thoughts on that. And then the second and you both kind of briefly mentioned at the end about NATO. You talked about how this wasn't, this wasn't the result of Ukraine wanting to join NATO. This didn't happen. Russia didn't do this because of that, but it's the opposite, right? Ukraine wants to join NATO because of Russia and aggression and all that. So what are your thoughts on Ukraine wanting to join NATO now? And also the ramifications this may have down the line. I know that economic sanctions, That's another very important talking point. I've already had a massive impact on the Russian economy. And so what kind of ramifications could these things have? To sum it up to make it easier? one, the precedence. Is this something that we expected? Where did this come from? And then also the ramifications that sanctions are going to have and also the role that NATO has played and will continue to play down the line. And maybe Professor D’Anieri, you can get us started this time.
Professor Paul D’Anieri: Okay, I think I will leave the historical precedence to Professor Tomoff. I hope he'll talk a little bit about. I'm gonna give them up.Product. The question of NATo. It's a very tricky one. But in the vein of Putin in doing things that create the exact opposite of what he hopes. Ukraine actually the pulling of Ukrainian prior to 2014 showed only a minority of Ukrainians supported joining nato. If they'd held a referendum on NATO membership anytime prior to 2014, it would not have passed, or it would've been very close. That was not the case after 2014. Now, of course, I mean, I, I'm not sure how this war is going to end, but if it ever does, and if Ukraine is still independent at the end, Ukraine will be that much more determined to join NATO.
NATO will respond. We don't know. But what we do know is that NATO, which Putin complaints about NATO enlargement. NATO deployments. NATO was actually sort of a wasting force over the last 30 years. Because after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was this idea of what we're gonna get along with the Russians now we don't need to spend money on defense. And our strategy can really be to engage with Russia economically rather than confronting it militarily. Well, that is changed and that's actually the big consequences of this. It's big consequences of this that I think we have to focus on is in particular on Germany's position. Germany since World War II has focused on keeping its military relatively small because it knows what the history is and it knows that it scares people. Well, Germany last weekend announced that they're going to immediately increase their defense spending and they're going to commit going forward to spending 2% of GDP on defense. And I joke, but it's actually very serious, deadly serious. Putin has managed to accomplish something that the United States government has been trying to get Germany to do for 50 years, which is to increase defense spending. Moreover, we now see Finland, which of course was invaded by Russia, by the Soviet Union in 1940. And Sweden, which has been, which has been neutral for decades, if not centuries, is basically saying they think they want to join NATO. NATO is basically being reborn. And if I think conditions allow for it, when this conflict is over, there's a pretty decent chance Ukraine will be, will be a member of it. From that perspective, this has been completely counterproductive, although I fear that because Putin knows that he is not going to give up on this easily or at all. Oh, sanctions.Oh, sanctions. Maybe, maybe, maybe we'd actually let Kiril talk about the precedence and then we can go back to Section
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: precedents. I mean, there aren't that many precedents of a state. Invading a sovereign, another sovereign state in a sort of large-scale military operation like we see right now. Just going backwards, I think the analog that everybody is drawing as the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. That's one I think when the United States invaded Iraq was often pointed out to be the first invasion of choice of another sovereign state since, since the, since the Nazi invasion in 1939. I think this is the next one. Is an unprecedented? No. Is it, but is it rare? Happily?Happily? Yes, it has been rare. Now there are also other kinds of precedence though, and this is what Paul wasn't getting to in the prompt. And that is the precedence of Russia sending military forces into to occupy, to fight against areas that consider themselves not part of Russia, that Russia should think should be considered part of Russia. The clearest example of that is the war against the war in Chechnya. This is a separatist republic that fought very steadfastly against the imposition of continuation of Russian power in the Republic. And it's a crucial story in Putin's rise to power and that he initially garnered, I think, legitimacy among the Russian population because of finally ending the war in Chechnya. But the way that it was ended was by the imposition of an overwhelming, incredibly destructive military force. The capital city of Chechnya was reduced to rubble. Extremely violent. This sort of suppression of this republic of Chechnya. Chechnya was juridically part of Russia. When this happened, it was sort of breakaway region, but one that considered itself distinct and separate from Russia. That's the striking advantage. And it's one of the scariest precedence because of the incredible destruction that the Russian military forces imposed on, on Chechnya and widespread fear. That could be the similar decision could be made with respect to the much larger Ukraine, but that I think is one. But there's also the incursion of Russian forces into Georgia. To again send a very clear message to the world that Georgia wouldn't be part of NATO. So that's part of the same sort of narrative about Ukraine joining NATO and resulted from the same sort of Nato statement about it's open admissions policy, including both Georgia and Ukraine. So I think there's a very closely, a close precedent. But it was not the full-scale occupation of all of Georgia, which we don't know what exactly the Russian military plans are, but it certainly included a much broader scale invasion then I think a lot of Western analysis, at least hoped, would be the case. I think that those precedents are, are there and they're all bad. I mean, the outcomes in these cases have been incredibly destructive. And I think that's one of the sort of, aside from the common sensical on the sort of immediate reaction against war, there are also these specific precedents that are incredibly worrisome.
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Kevin Karami: That isn't really, really interesting to listen to. I think I think something that I find really interesting is the fact that you mentioned early on how there is precedent, but it is rare. I think I mentioned in my question as well on how there has been, ive heard some talk on traditional media, but also social media about how a lot of people thought that this kind of war was over. But you also mentioned the US invasion of Iraq, which was not that long ago. So even though it's rare, it obviously isn't over. I wanted to go back to Professor D’Anieri as well. If you can maybe talk a little bit about the economic sanctions and the, the economic aspect of this issue because we've already talked about how you've already seen that such a large impact on the Russian economy, but it also has had an effect on the world economy, specifically on oil and gas. So maybe you could talk a little bit about that.
Professor Paul D’Anieri: Yeah, there's, this crisis is going to have an impact on the global economy for a long time because it's going to last a long time. And these sanctions are going to last a long time. As far as the world economy goes. Russia's not a huge player in the world economy overall, it's economy is only the size of Italy. Trade is not a huge part of it. If you think yourself, what is it that any of us consumes that comes from Russia as opposed to China. And maybe in a general sense, some grain, but not because we are in the United States, maybe vodka, but there's actually most of the vodka consumed in this country doesn't come from Russia anymore, but it never really did. The big thing, the big workplace, they'll have an impact on oil markets. Russia produces about 11% of the world's oil. Oil is a global market, and so it's not that anybody is not gonna have any oil. It's just that reduction in supply will push the price up. And we're already seeing that. The bigger issue is in natural gas. Because natural gas is not a global market, it's not easy to ship around the world and tankers it goes where there are pipelines to take it. And so Western Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas. What's interesting about all of these sanctions so far is they very deliberately have left those markets alone. So Russia is continuing to send the gas towards Western Europe. In the Western Europeans are continuing to send the money back in the other direction. And everybody's made sure that the sanctions don't affect that. All that being said, the sanctions in some respects didn't seem like they were gonna have a big impact on Russia because they targeted these specific individuals. But that was until the targeting of specific western banks and the targeting of the Russian Central Bank. And in particular, with some important exceptions having to do with energy and food. Disconnecting the Russian financial system from a system called Swift, which is how all the international financial transactions in the world get done. The result of that has been the value of the Russian ruble has collapsed. Depending on exactly where you are in the Russian economy, that could have an enormous effect or a lesser effect or maybe even be beneficial. But to the extent that the average Russian is buying an array of goods, some of which are imported. Those imported goods are now going to get more expensive. And so it means inflation. It means that the average Russian consumer, all of a sudden became much poorer. And this isn't a country where people are not terrifically wealthy. To begin, I think the question that everybody asks is, what will that get people to rise up against Putin? And I don't think there's any easy mechanical relationship there. In the medium to long run, it will make people grumpier. Popularity of governments generally tracks pretty well with, with economic performance. But that doesn't mean that they're just gonna rise up in overthrow him. The Soviets had a lousy economy for decades before the Soviet Union collapsed. That's, that's, I think the basic picture. What I think is I should say one more thing. What's really been important and notable about the sanctions is the unity that they show. The extent. I think Putin probably we figured, I actually figured most of us figured that the West, the United States, the Europeans would have a difficult time coming together on this. And not only did they come together, but they came together with some really far-reaching measures. And the other thing that's symbolically enormous is Switzerland. Switzerland is participating in these sections. And basically what they've said is Russia is so bad that neutrality in this situation is not appropriate. Moral isolation as well as an economic isolation. And I think that's significant.
Mufida Assaf: Thank you so much, Professor D’Anieri. And since we're running out of time, I'm just going to shift the topic real quick. How do you think that modern culture affects these kinds of conflicts?
Professor Paul D’Anieri: Modern culture? Dr. Tomoff is the culture specialists, so I'm going to punt.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: Again. I think this is a difficult question to answer. I think first of all, what we mean by modern culture is maybe even difficult to ascertain. But I think maybe if we think about some sort of commonalities of the sort of expectations. On the one hand or on the other hand, the sort of, the thing that I studied, the historical period, this sort of exchange of culture produces people who are participating in a global, in a global, I don't know, economy of culture in a global culture. So for example, the thing that I study is one of the things I study is the way that Soviet musicians, tours of the West affected how they operated and what the ramifications of those tours were both for the Soviet Union and to a lesser extent in my work to the west, those kinds of networks and so forth still continue to exist. One of the things that we've, that we've seen over just the last couple of days are really striking cases of, of Russian world-class Russian musicians who have been, who have been essentially forced to denounce, Putin, or lose their appointments. Now, these, these kinds of musicians often have multiple appointments all over the world, including in Russia, but also internationally. And so a couple of really prominent ones have, had declined. Basically saying, I'm an artist, I don't get involved in politics. I'm not gonna, I'm against war in an abstract sense, but not denouncing Putin himself. And they have lost their positions because they were unwilling to do that. I think that, that, that maybe anecdote might say something about the way that a sort of global cultural expectations which respects national boundaries and which at least in rhetoric, prefers the institutions of representative democracy. And that violations of those things can produce high levels of outrage all over the world. And that cycles right back into what Professor D’Anieri was just saying about the, about the sanctions, about the unity that they say. I think we also see in hand-in-hand with those sanctions are really pretty unified. A global opposition to the idea that this is okay. I don't think that we've in the UN, in the official diplomatic sphere, we've had almost no one saying this is okay. And the vast majority of the world saying affirmatively, this is not okay with some sort of understandable abstentions and so forth. Okay, that's one level. That's maybe the diplomacy of the UN isn't, isn't global culture. But I think that it is a key to thinking about the way that across boundaries, people are thinking about whether or not something like this is okay and whether or not this particular thing is okay, and what the world is saying is No, it's not okay.
Professor Paul D’Anieri: I might, I agree with everything. You just said. I want to, I want to maybe take culture in one's slightly different direction. We talked about culture wars in this country. Putin is actually a participant in these wars. Participant on a global level. And he's adamant about this stuff, which is why some people on the American right really like him. You may have seen images of him stressing his masculinity. The politics of masculinity are an essential part of Putin's claim to loyalty. What he sees in himself, how he wants Russia to look, and what he thinks is wrong with the West. So a big part of his claim to authority is that he's defending these traditional masculine values against homosexuality, against LGBTQ people in general. And against the idea that all that should be tolerated. and against feminent men, whatever that means and against women's rights. So that's actually one of the things that he has in common with Xi Jinping in China, Xi in China has really pushed this idea of masculinity. That if we think of that as culture, I think of it as politics, but there's a lot of culture that goes along with the politics of masculinity. That's a real driving force of his message and his mindset and his appeal or does appeal to people around the world.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: Thank you, Paul, for him for that. Yeah, I think that's a spot on shift. Of thinking about this culture exactly that way. And I would say that not only are these sort of cultural affinities, but actual practical active coordination between, especially between the sort of ideologues within Russia who are supporting these kinds of campaigns. And the ideologues in the West, including the United States, who are doing so, coordinating sort of legislative programs and so forth. Especially regarding the exclusion of LGBTQ people from the, from the norms of their respective societies. You have a graduate student in the History Department, Kate Mauer, who's got really interesting work on exactly this question. So thank you.
Kevin Karami: That is a really interesting point to end on because obviously we talked about the history, we talked about various aspects, the economics, weather here's prescenent or not, all these various aspects of the issue, but the impact that modern culture and like you said, associated with Mockito, what that even means is up for debate or what modern culture is, even is ambiguous in nature. But whatever we define that as the moderate and political landscape, not just in the United States, but in the West and the entire world and how some aspects have been positive, like you both mentioned, how basically the entire world has said this is wrong, which I think, you know, there are very few times that we can say that you're proud of world governments actually doing the right thing. But this is one of those cases where we can say, we can at least be proud of that. Yet there are also aspects of it, like you mentioned, how there are sets of people in the West, including the United States that like Putin and maybe don't outright support what's going on, but are also not completely calling him out and are kind of trying to thread that needle. Which a lot of us would probably say that that's wrong too, that it is our responsibility to call him out and call what is happening in this conflict out. And so I think it's really interesting that these cultural factors and then how even something, something like how you mentioned professor D’Anieri, the masculine aspect is something that I didn't even think about when you set it. And it made total, complete sense. And a lot of ways I think it is, I think it totally is true how Putin kind of tries to almost over-exaggerate that, that masculinity and kind of wants, not only does he want that to be how people view him, but also how people view Russia, the Russian government, and Russia as a nation. It's so, it's so interesting how we're almost getting into the psychological aspects of how these things start. And it's just, it goes to show how complicated it is. And I feel like we can sit here for hours and hours talking about the various aspects. But unfortunately we can't, as we are reaching the end of our slot of time. Associate Dean Tomoff and professor D’Anieri, thank you both so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to join us today. I can speak for both myself and Mufida and for our audience that we learned so much about the various aspects and the complexities of this issue. And given that it is a current event, I think it's really important that we keep up with it and that we are aware of what's going on. As important as this is also affecting so many lives in Ukraine. And even beyond. Again, both for joining us today and it was an honor to have you on.
Associate Dean Kiril Tomoff: Thank you.
Professor Paul D’Anieri: You're very welcome.
Kevin Karami: This podcast is the production of the UC Riverside School of Public Policy. Our theme music was produced by C Codaine. I'm Kevin Karami. Till next time.