Carroll County Times

McDaniel College professors discuss Russia-Ukraine crisis

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As Russian troops continue to invade Ukraine in attacks authorized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, members of McDaniel College’s political science department hosted a panel discussion Tuesday evening to shed light on the worldwide effects of the conflict.

Christianna N. Leahy, professor of comparative politics and chair of the department of political science and international studies, answers questions from the audience during a panel discussion on the Ukranian-Russian conflict presented by the National Security Fellows Program at McDaniel College in Westminster Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

The attacks on Ukraine started on Feb. 24, when Putin launched a full-scale military assault, bombing major cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa. The war has shown no signs of ending soon.


On Tuesday, McDaniel College in Westminster played host to a discussion on the conflict at the Hoover Library. Speakers included Francis Grice, McDaniel’s program coordinator of the National Security Fellows Program and an associate professor in political science; Anouar Bouhkars, associate professor of political science and international studies; and Christianna N. Leahy, chair of the Department of Political Science and International Studies and professor of comparative politics.

Grice explained the role of NATO in the crisis. NATO is the military alliance established in 1949 by the United States, Canada and several nations in Western Europe to provide collective security to its member states.


Grice said NATO was founded on the fundamental goal of safeguarding its member states in the event of a political or military attack; however, Ukraine is not a member of NATO and Putin has demanded that NATO deny membership to Ukraine.

“During the 1990s what NATO is started to change ... into being a force for good ... that opposes tyranny and brutality for wherever it takes place in the world,” Grice said.

The recent attacks on Ukraine have put NATO in a dilemma, he added.

“I think the dilemma facing NATO really is boiled down to how can we avoid nuclear war or a potential nuclear war while still exerting a punishment upon Putin and still making NATO a relevant force that is able to exert some kind of order and humanity onto the international system in a way that doesn’t descend us back into a Cold War,” Grice said.

Bouhkars said Putin is seizing an opportunity to assert his nation’s position in Eastern Europe at a time when the U.S. is fixated on challenging China.

“I think [Putin] saw the U.S as divided at home and distracted by China … his move into Ukraine — I think he miscalculated … [but it] doesn’t mean he isn’t going to overwhelm the Ukrainians,” Bouhkars said.

Bouhkars also weighed in on NATO and the United States’ role in the conflict.

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“They lack the power to deny Russia say over Ukrainian’s future … because they are not willing to go to war with Russia — this is the challenge here,” he said.


Leahy explained the worldwide economic ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, highlighting the flurry of sanctions in Russia announced by President Joe Biden and several U.S allies.

“This has a huge impact on the global economy … economic penalties are the first to start [and] sanctions are devastating to vulnerable people,” Leahy said.

Jahan Hosseini, a McDaniel freshman considering majoring in economics, said the panel discussion exceeded his expectations.

“It was really well done ... I was hoping [the event] would provide multiple perspectives of the conflict and it was a good way to summarize what was happening,” Hosseini said.

Max Engle, a McDaniel junior majoring in political science, said he stands with Ukraine and that he enjoyed the panel discussion.

“I was really happy to attend — Dr. Grice, Dr. Leahy and Dr. Bouhkars are extremely qualified professionals and I appreciate the work that they did in the presentation ... I hope coming out of this [conflict] we can learn some ways on how to help our international neighbors.”