Russia and Ukraine: A Road to World War III?

February 13, 2015
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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will hold a forum, “Russia and Ukraine: A Road to World War III,” on Tuesday, Feb. 17, in 136 Doudna Hall from 6:30-8 p.m.

The forum will feature an interdisciplinary panel comprised of Dr. Andrey Ivanov, assistant professor of history at UW-Platteville; Casey Magee, a returned Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine; Dr. Travis Nelson, associate professor of political science at UW-Platteville; and Inna Stepaniuk, Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Ukraine, School of Education at UW-Platteville. Dr. Daniel Leitch, associate professor of education at UW-Platteville, will moderate the forum.

“Since the fall of 2013, the nation of Ukraine has been engulfed in a violent struggle to overcome the challenges of a totalitarian past in order to build a European future,” said Ivanov. “Over the last 15 months, a popular uprising turned into a revolution, followed by changes of government, aggression, conflict, and finally, a full blown war. In the course of fighting, annexation and occupation, Ukraine lost control over roughly one-fifth of its total territory, populated by about one-fifth of its total population (over 9 million people). Millions of people were displaced, thousands died, and the economic and humanitarian disaster created a catastrophe invoking images of the Balkan wars of the 1990s.”

The panel will endeavor to analyze the conflict in Ukraine “beyond the headlines” by looking at such issues (often sidelined, according to Ivanov) as the scope of human suffering, the historical context of Ukraine’s relations with Russia and the world, the varied forms of Putin’s aggression, the societal responses to the war, and most importantly, whether this conflict would become the feared road to a larger global conflict between the United States (and the West) and Russia (with its allies) – a sure World War III. The panel will also attempt to wrestle with the question of how the United States and its allies can, or should, respond to a superpower that has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and what, if anything, can be done to bring peace to the region in the immediate future.

Ivanov will discuss the historical context of Ukraine’s relations with Russia as well as the long- and short-term causes of the conflict. Stepaniuk will discuss how the society in Ukraine has so far coped with the conflict and, particularly, the humanitarian and economic catastrophe that accompanied it. Magee, via Skype, will share his experiences as a volunteer in Ukraine. Nelson will conclude the forum by exploring the ramifications for American foreign policy and, more generally, global security.

“It is more than just about a one year-long Russia-Ukraine conflict,” said Stepaniuk. “It is about world safety, world values and human rights. In the 21st century, no other countries in the world, no other communities, no other families should experience fear for their lives. And we should be aware of this by planting seeds of peacefulness.”

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The forum aligns with three of the priorities, including providing an outstanding education, fostering a community of achievement and respect and enriching the tri-state region.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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