Russia’s Assault on Ukraine

KEYT-TV posted February 22/ 2022. Interview by Tracy Lehr

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Mark Juergensmeyer has a way of explaining complicated crises, such as the one on the Russia-Ukraine border.

“An assault on freedom anywhere is an assault on freedom everywhere, so we should always be concerned when there is an attempt to try to change the equation and take over people’s rights,” said Juergensmeyer.

As the founding director of the Global and International Studies Program and the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, he has visited Kyiv and parts of the region.

The professor who has a doctorate in political science said Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants the resources the Ukraine has.

“Ukraine is a very rich country it has these mineral resources, it has the largest number of rare earth minerals that are useful for making computers, ” said Juergensmeyer. “There is a huge coal deposits, so it is not just nostalgia that Putin wants, he wants money.”

The people of Ukraine have already fought a civil war to the be poised toward Europe, rather than towards the Soviet Union.

“They want to join the EU (European Union) they want to be a part of NATO (Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization) Russia doesn’t want that to happen, so this is really a struggle over the future of Europe.”

The professor said what could happen in Ukraine could also happen in other countries that used to be part of U.S.S.R.’s control.

When asked what former President Trump would be doing, he said Trump may have adopted the same position that its neighbor China has adopted right now.

Putin could be seen in the stands during the Olympics in Beijing.

That is when Juergensmeyer believes Putin was cozying up to China’s leader Xi Jinping.

“There is no question that one of the things they talked about is how Russia would like to compare what is going on in Ukraine with what is going on in Xinjiang with the Uyghurs in China.”

He thinks silence from China is part of their deal.

“There have been crickets from China’s side, it hasn’t either condemned what Russia has done in Ukraine, nor has it condoned.”

He said the two critical counties to look at are Germany and China since Germany controls the pipeline that is going to be this natural resource for Russia.

The professor believes sanctions are necessary because Russia has a fragile economy.

“Russia has a terrible economy, it is lower than California,” said Juergensmeyer. “California would be a more powerful economy than Russia and the only thing they really have going for them is oil and gas and right now if Germany cuts off the gas pipeline it would be a huge impact and if the sanctions impact there sale of oil around the world that would be another huge impact.”

He said sanctions are moderate in response, as Russia takes over territory that is already in Russia’s hands, for all practical purposes.

Russia wants to say those areas are no longer part of Ukraine.

“In the short run this may affect our oil prices, we may have to pay a little bit more at the pump, but in the long run it is worth it because we have to fight for freedom everywhere.”

Dr. Juergensmeyer just completed his 30th book entitled “When God Stops Fighting: How Religious Violence Ends.”

It is available wherever books are sold.