By Lily Reilly, Contributing Writer
On Tuesday, the International and Global Studies Department presented a panel of three Gettysburg College professors to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine. The panel members included Chair of International and Global Studies and History Professor William Bowman, Economics Associate Professor Rimvydas Baltaduonis, and Chair of Political Science Professor Hartzel.
Referring to a topic that is part of the current news surrounding Putin, Russia, and Ukraine, Bowman began by stating that Putin has said on record that the Soviet Union was destroyed in 1991, when places like Lithuania and Ukraine gained independence.
Bowman said Putin sees this as the “worst historical catastrophe of the century,” and his mission is to reconquer these countries.
After discussing this brief background, Bowman examined three scenarios that historians and politicians believed would happen moving forward after the war first began.
Scenario one was “the Russians were going to overwhelm Ukraine,” said Bowman. He shared that this was the viewpoint of many military personnel in March.
In Bowman’s second scenario, the international pressure would cause Ukraine to negotiate over its own territory in the East.
Finally, he suggested that “Ukraine would hold its own and win the war” in the third scenario.
Bowman concluded with the possibility of nightmare scenarios. He explained the possibility that Russia will begin to use greater military-grade weapons, there will be continued attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and Putin will move to full military mobilization.
Following Bowman’s talk, Hartzel spoke about the political science perspective on the war in Ukraine.
She began her presentation by introducing the ideologies of John Mearsheimer, who is a realist and professor from the University of Chicago.
“Realism focuses on the distribution of power in the international system…the countries who matter the most are the most powerful countries in the world,” Hartzel explained.
While realists like Mearsheimer believe that Russia, being the more powerful country, will win the war, and Ukraine should accept defeat, Hartzel also presented a model created by political scientist Andrew Mack. This model opposes what realists believe, and it even shows that the weaker power wins 30 percent of the time.
Then, Baltaduonis spoke on the economic and global impact that the war in Ukraine is having on Europe and the rest of the world.
“In almost seven months we have a completely changed global scene,” said Baltaduonis.
He continued by saying that Russia has been “demystified” from its power, and the country is no longer the “gas station for Europe,” given the rise of power in China and India.
According to Baltaduonis, everything is happening because of energy. He presented a map that illustrates how many of the pipelines that distribute natural gas to lucrative areas run through Ukraine.
“Controlling Ukraine, for Russia, is a very strategic move,” Baltaduonis said. He explained how Russia believes that if they can control Ukraine, then they do not have to worry about what they do with the gas. He said that Russia did eventually close these pipelines in August, and now Germany is receiving no natural gas.
He continued by explaining that the European Union is altogether refusing to buy coal and oil from Russia, and some countries are refusing to buy electricity from the country as well. Baltaduonis said this is a very different scenario than previous narratives which stated that Russia would close all energy resources from Europe.
According to Baltaduonis, even though most of Europe has stopped buying certain things from Russia, Russia still seems to be making money off of the increasing energy prices. In order to stop Russia from funding the war with their own money, Europe is trying price caps, but China and India are refusing these caps.
The panel then switched to a question-and-answer session. Many audience members asked specific questions, and the panel gave detailed responses before the discussion ended.