The College of Arts and Sciences hosted Aftershocks — an Arts Unplugged speakership event on the global effects of the Ukraine war — on Sept. 22.
The event featured Fall 2022 Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist Fellow and the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow Bureau Chief Ann Simmons and New York Times’ London Bureau Chief Mark Landler to share their perspectives. The journalists spoke alongside Prof. Peter Katzenstein, government, and Prof. Jessica Chen Weiss, government. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ray Jayawardhana moderated the panel.
Simmons opened the discussion with a summary of key facts about the war. A longtime journalist, Simmons covered Europe, Africa, North America and the Middle East for more than 25 years and first began reporting Russian politics for Time Magazine in the early 1990s.
The invasion began on Feb. 25, Simmons explained, under a special military operation by the Russian Military. Russian President Vladimir Putin garnered support for the attack amongst Russian citizens by referring to it as an extermination of the Nazi government in Ukraine. Simmons said she had spoken to many Russian citizens who support the war.
In addition to the military aspect of the war, Simmons commented on its energy front, through which Russia has leveraged its power over the oil and gas market, and the misinformation front, as Russia is promoting propaganda across its media outlets.
Katzenstein agreed with Simmons’s characterization of the war and expanded on his own assessment.
“I don’t think it’s a global war,” Katzenstein said. “It’s a regional war, in Europe, with global implications.”
Some of those implications, Katzenstein continued, include global insecurity amidst the threat of nuclear weapons and food insecurity as the war disrupts global supply chains.
Katzenstein often used his professorial lens throughout the panel. He drew historical comparisons to the Soviet Union’s invasion of its other neighbor Finland — which did not work in Russia’s favor —and the current mobilization of Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization due to Russia’s aggression.
Katzenstein also commented on the panel’s analysis of the war exclusively through a realist perspective, which stresses competition and conflict within international relations.
Weiss spoke about China’s complicated relationship with Russia as a strategic, below-the-radar partnership that extends only to appease the West. She also explained how China has only provided limited military assistance to Russia for fear of risking its financial stability, its international reputation and secondary sanctions by the United States and other European allies.
China has, however, publically displayed unity with Putin, including in his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.
Landler spoke to the other ‘aftershocks’ of war felt by other nations, saying that many countries, especially Germany, may have to grapple with the skyrocketing of gas prices, energy and natural gas rationing and the shutting down of vast amounts of industry.
Landler pointed to the United Kingdoms’ recent ruling of a state intervention in the energy market, which would cap electricity and gas rates below their market rate at an inefficient cost of 100 billion pounds in the first year.
As the former White House Correspondent for the Obama Administration, Landler also referred to former President Barack Obama’s concern over whether the United States actually had any strategic stake in Ukrainian autonomy.
Landler commented on the West’s pressure test of Russia, particularly involving double-edged economic sanctions that have yet to create a significant dent in Russia’s economy.
“The crucial test for the West is coming in the future months, and it’s going to manifest itself in a variety of… ways across Europe,” Landler said.
Correction, Sept. 28, 9:20 a.m.: A previous version of this article misstated Prof. Jessica Chen Weiss’s pronoun, and misspelled Mark Landler’s last name. The Sun regrets this error, and the article has been corrected.