UCO Professor Explains Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The morning sun shines on UCO’s “Tried and True” Veteran’s Memorial Statue on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (Video UCentral News/Maury Blair)

Last month, the Department of Defense placed 8500 American troops on a heightened state of preparedness in response to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. How serious is that for us here at home? One UCO Political Science Professor gave some insight on the situation.

Loren Gatch is a professor of Political Science at UCO. In a Friday, Jan. 28 interview he described the situation in Ukraine in terms of a “standoff.”

Gatch explained the conflict from both Russian and European perspectives.

“Russia sees Ukraine as a country that is within its… what it perceives to be its legitimate sphere of influence, and they want to protect that in order to keep the Ukrainians from… in a sense… going to the other side.”

“The Europeans, in contrast, see the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a clear violation of international law and as a very dangerous escalation of tensions within the region.”

Gatch also explained the concerns of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, which is the organization that could possibly have to come to the aid of Ukraine.

He said that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and NATO has no obligation to come to its defense, but they are concerned that conflicts could spread to NATO countries such as the Balkans.

With so much at stake, what is the best possible outcome in the current stand off?

Gatch said the best outcome would be some sort of arrangement whereby each side could step back from the conflict without seeming to have blinked.

With that in mind, we also asked Gatch what he thought would be the best outcome for Ukraine. Gatch said it would be best if Ukraine could become a country that neither joins NATO nor becomes a client state of Russia.

 “The best scenario is if there’s some kind of a mutual understanding that will lead to the treatment of Ukraine as a kind of neutral buffer state with a certain amount of independence and a certain ability to determine what’s going on within their own borders. But, at the same time, not allow Ukraine to either join NATO on the one had or be reincorporated as some kind of Russian client… state… on the other.”

Finally, Gatch weighed in on the significance of the recent decision by the Department of Defense to place 8500 troops on a heightened state of readiness, and just how concerned we at UCO should be about that decision.

“We will deploy some troops into the Baltic Countries I believe as a way of reinforcing Nato and demonstrating  America’s commitment to it, but there are something like 8,000 troops, and that is symbolic really.”

“It’s not a substantive commitment of troops. There’s no particular risk to any person who lives in Oklahoma, there’s no deployment that we… we’re not wishing… we’re not seeing off any of our young men and women into combat.”

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