Benedictine Insights on Events In Ukraine

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Editors Note: “The Ukraine situation is presently evolving. All information presented was accurate at the time of reporting. All subjective opinions presented are those of the people interviewed and do not represent the views of The Candor.”

Dominic Fucile

Staff Writer

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24th, almost two weeks ago, there have been a number of questions about what motivated Russian President Vladimir Putin to commit to a fully armed push into Ukrainian territory. The constant coverage of the invasion has dominated the 24-hour news cycle for the last 2 weeks.

According to a report from the UN Office Of The High Commissioner For Human Rights, as of the 7th of March, there have been 1,335 casualties. This is between 474 deaths and 861 injuries, though the report indicates that these numbers are likely far higher. 

Dr. Joel Ostrow, professor of comparative and international politics in Benedictine’s department of political science, has a unique perspective on the events unfolding in Ukraine and Russia. Dr. Ostrow served as a foreign news correspondent to Russia for prolonged periods from 1989 to 1995. Ostrow was present in Russia for the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Russian Federation and Vladimir Putin’s rise to prominence on the Russian political stage.

“Vladimir Putin is a Dictator. He’s a particularly brutal one, not all dictators are the same.” Dr. Ostrow said, before recalling his personal experiences as a foreign correspondent, as well as the Russian correspondents he personally knows that underpin his analysis of the situation in Ukraine.

“The most important thing is its horrific behavior by a brutal dictator. And it really is that one individual was able to make this happen. It does require Russian soldiers to fire weapons, to drop bombs. But rather than focus on the soldiers that follow the orders, maybe we should focus on those brave committed humans who have refused to. Who has turned themselves into Ukrainian authorities? Not nearly enough, but it is happening. ” Ostrow said.

The full extent of these surrenders by Russian forces is unknown, and an anonymous Pentagon official interviewed by the New York would not disclose any numbers.

The United Nations has also taken steps to address the invasion of Ukraine. In an emergency special session that lasted through March 2nd, the General Assembly of the UN voted to condemn the actions of Russia in Ukraine by a vote of 141 to 5, with 25 UN states abstaining.

The UN resolution A/ES-11/L.1 “Demands that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine and to refrain from any further unlawful threat or use of force against any Member State.”

Now, this particular demand can’t exactly be enforced as the UN has no power to enact policy.

Benedictine has its Model UN Team, led by student leaders Samantha Eliceche and Madeeha Syed, and the class taught by Dr. Ostrow. The team has also considered how the events in Ukraine will reflect in their own expected experience when they attend the Model UN conference in new york.

Eliceche explained that the question of the looming conflict, and whether it could lead to another world war was incredibly important of the UN.

“The UN was created after World War II… We have to ask. They’ve been preparing for years, but are they ready?” said Eliceche.

Dr. Ostrow will also be holding a special seminar on the situation in Ukraine at the conference itself, according to the Model UN website. Dr. Ostrow also noted the response of Russia’s diplomatic team in the UN as particularly interesting.

“I can tell you, he is not a career diplomat. This is not someone who is trained in the foreign service, he is a former, midranking KGB or Army Officer. He had no idea what he was doing, how he was doing it… He was a fish out of water.” Ostrow said. According to Ostrow, approximately %90 of the Russian government is composed of “Siloviki,” political figures who came to power straight from the Russian military or security services.

Dr. Ostrow also explained that the situation in both Ukraine and Russia was constantly changing and that at any time the circumstances could change.