Debate targets Ukraine: who’s to blame for this tragedy?

Some of the hottest topics in today’s news have to do with Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the Ukraine. On April 21 in the Ellsworth room, JSC’s Politics Club brought Associate Professor of Humanities David Plazek and his friend Alexandre Strokanov, professor of history at Lyndon, together to debate and discuss some of these issues.

Strokanov was named “Best Teacher of Russian Humanities Abroad” in a contest conducted by the Pushkin Institute in Russia in October 2014.

The Politics Club’s Benjamin Simone and John Dabrowski mediated the debate and had prepared nine structured questions for the two guests, leaving the rest of the time open for the audience to ask questions.

“What is happening now is the country is very seriously divided,” Strokanov said. “Unfortunately the government does everything to deepen these dividing lines… Ukraine as we know it has ceased to exist.”
Strokanov maintained that Russia “doesn’t play a critical role in the events happening in the Ukraine.” Plazek disagreed.

“I believe Russia is significantly involved in providing arms for the rebels in the east,” Plazek said. “And that’s the U.S. stated position.”

Plazek spoke out against Russia getting involved in the Ukraine, equating it to a similar conflict that the United States got involved in in the past.

“In 1989, the president of Panama spoke out against the United States,” Plazek said. “And the excuse we gave to invade and overthrow that regime was that they arrested a couple American tourists and roughed them up, If that’s a cause for war, we could invade any country in the world any single day.”
Plazek discussed the topic of regime change in Russia and how he feels that a dictatorship is better than no government at all.

“The idea is that a dictator, even one like Gaddafi, is better because they’re maintaining order,” Plazek said. “And guess what? Libya is chaos right now. There’s support for that argument.”
Strokanov spoke about Russia invading Ukraine and using them as “tools” to accomplish goals, and related it to current problems with ISIS.

“Excuse me, but ISIS, that we are so afraid of now, is half our creation,” Strokanov said. “…We didn’t realize how dangerous a thing we had released out of the bottle, and what kind of consequences all of this would have.”

Strokanov suggested ways to begin to solve the problems happening between Russia and the Ukraine.
“First of all, stop arming,” Strokanov said. “And stop encouraging fighting between these two sides.”

Plazek brought up the problems that have risen from having Ukrainian people living in Russia.
“The fundamental issue is that you do have different peoples in the same country. I have Ukrainian friends who right now are livid with their anger of the Westerners.”

Plazek and Strokanov disagreed on whether or not the CIA of the United States was involved in the conflict in the Ukraine. Plazek believes they had no involvement in the conflict, whereas Strokanov believes otherwise.

“I don’t see the CIA as being as powerful as you do,” Plazek said. “I see them as often inept, quite frankly. I don’t think they have such reaches in power.”