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Events in Ukraine have local impact

Even though the distance between the U.S. and Russia is great, what is happening has some effect on students, as well as the international community.

Students who took the Russian Culture class this past fall are privy to the historical context of Kiev.

“The group in that course was well aware of the historical context for Kiev, the capital of Ukraine,” said Timothy Pogacar, associate professor in the German-Russian Department.

At the end of the semester, students were able to understand more clearly what was happening in Russia.

“By the time the course ended, the protests in Ukraine were happening in December,” Pogacar said.

Students were able to see effects of the events firsthand.

“People saw why the perceptions of a divided or shared past on part of Ukrainians and Russians were used by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for justification … of course, there is much more to it,” Pogacar said. “The cultural background is part of the story.”

Due to the events in both countries, some American programs are canceling their trips to Russia, even though the University is not.

“Bowling Green has a summer program in Russia, and that program is going ahead. Some other U.S. summer programs have been canceled or are in peril of being canceled,” Pogacar said.

But on the international level, many different events have happened. Here are the top five things you should know about what’s going on in Ukraine.

1. The events happening in Russia and Ukraine are both culturally and politically motivated.

“It’s a long-term problem. It’s more of a symptom of the turn in Russian politics that started in the past several years … it’s more of a cause,” Pogacar said. “What’s happened in Crimea has been building is a result in the stance in what Putin has taken.”

2. The odds of military actions being taken are slim.

“I think it’s unclear what Russia might do next … but with every day that goes by, it’s unlikely that there will be further military action,” Pogacar said. “Now, there have been diplomatic contacts between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.”

3. Russia doesn’t have any economic reasons to step into Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s economy has been contracting, so it’s not real estate you would want to invest in. Twenty-five percent of Crimea’s population is receiving a pension,” Pogacar said. “Almost all of Crimea’s electricity comes from mainland Ukraine. I’m not sure why Russia would economically want to assume responsibility for a retirement community.”

4. The Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Ukraine caught Americans off guard because of the U.S.’s understanding of international matters.

“As with the Arab Springs, it shows how the weakening in U.S. in Western information gathering and understanding in the world,” Pogacar said. “We didn’t see the Arab Springs coming. It’s because the expertise at U.S. universities has been and that’s what’s happened in the last few decades.”

5. Efforts made by international organizations are trying to take steps forward.

“[Thursday], the IMF [International Monetary Fund] proposed a package for Ukraine and while it is probably not possible in the short term to reverse the occupation of Crimea, it’s becoming more and more unlikely that Russia will act militarily against the rest of Ukraine,” Pogacar said.

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