The war in Ukraine hits close to home

Ryan Lake


War. It’s a word that’s all too familiar in our daily lives, and yet somehow it always seems so removed. But for one of MUW’s faculty members, Dr. George Pinchuk, professor of biology, the word war hits home. For him, the events are clear.

“It’s an invasion,” said Pinchuk softly in his second-floor office of Parkinson Hall.

The division of Ukraine between east and west which the Western media has portrayed is largely a farce according to Pinchuk. He said the people of Ukraine stand as one nation against the Russian invader whose method of entrance was a propaganda blitz in East Ukraine.

“Alcoholics, drug addicts, and the poor were bribed lavishly that if this region severs its connection with Ukraine, they will be provided jobs, high wages, pensions, etc.  And they bought it,” said Pinchuk shrugging his shoulders.  “Now they’re terribly disappointed because Russia doesn’t want that part of Ukraine.”

That information works with and against a man with an eye on the larger picture, Dr. Brian Anderson, dean of arts and sciences and a professor of political science.

“This is really separatism. Groups of Russians primarily clustered in the east who wish to separate for any number of reasons,” Anderson said.

He’s was also quick to speak to the Russian policy and the international response.

“Russia got torched after the Crimean annexation,” said Anderson in reference to the international response to the contested annexation.  “They want to stabilize the situation, and the story they offered was that they were protecting their interests.”

However, Pinchuk speaks to a different experience in relation to the international response.

“The sanctions were imposed on Russia. So far it doesn’t really impact all that much the Russian economy, politics. They still behave like rabid dogs,” he said.

The man behind these actions is Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin has been a growing leader on the world stage since he took over in 2000.

“He’s trying to keep everything subtle. He’s allowing the separatists to control the heat in the region. The Russian Slavic mentality is extremely nationalistic. The entire history of Russia has been very much a concern about maintaining the stability and security of Slavic people who are the classic Russians.”

However, one thing that Anderson and Pinchuk agree on is that the recent aggression is a means to distract the Russian people.

“What might bring him [Putin] down is if the economy turns. They [Russia] are a petrol state. They’ve chosen not to diversify their economy, and oil has dropped from $120 a barrel to $80 a barrel.  There have been riots. They’re just not covered. It’s a joke. There’s no democracy. The economy is based on commodity,” said Anderson.

“The Russian economy is very poorly designed. I have a friend in Russian who says we cannot even manufacture a pair of pants,” Pinchuk says laughing. “It’s of course an exaggeration. Do you see Russian automobiles, telephones, computer, etc.? No, because the emphasis is still on export of raw materials.”

Discussing Russia in this manner paints Putin as a bully who’s upset that his toys are no longer the talk of the town anymore. That same bully is now throwing a tantrum to get the attention back on himself.

“The supposed power of the state is based on lashing out like in Ukraine. Concocting crises which will distract people from the real issues such healthcare and infrastructure. In some ways it’s all a huge, huge diversion from the economic problems.”