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Queen’s experts weigh in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

As the world watches the rapidly evolving situation, researchers help us understand the roots of the conflict and the different factors at play.

Over the past month, a range of Queen’s research experts have been focused on the escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine, which has now become a full-scale military conflict. Featured in local, national, and international media, their voices have helped us in understanding the history between the two countries, how this war will be fought and financed, as well as the role sanctions against Russia may play in bringing it to an end.

Here’s a selection of Queen’s experts in major media outlets that are contributing to the fast-moving discussions taking place around the world.

Why Russia is invading Ukraine

Stéfanie von Hlatky (Political Studies)

It has been a few generations since a war of this scale has broken out in Europe. To help support parents and teachers in having important conversations with children about the crisis, Stéfanie von Hlatky collaborated with CBC to create a special online resource for CBC Kids News. In it, Dr. von Hlatky, who is an expert in military alliances and cooperation, breaks down the three main reasons why Russia has invaded Ukraine.

“One reason that Russia is invading Ukraine is because as Russia has struggled since the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO has continued to grow, and Putin sees that as a threat.”

Dr. von Hlatky said Russia sees Ukraine as being historically and culturally part of Russia.

“Putin, who is nearing the end of his political career, may be trying to distract from all the problems happening in Russia, such as the toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on the economy.”

CBC Kids News: https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/russia-declared-war-on-ukraine.-heres-why

Misinformation

Principal’s statement
Principal Patrick Deane has shared a message of solidarity with universities in Ukraine on behalf of Queen's. In his message to the Queen’s community, he highlights the important role institutes of higher learning must play in supporting democracy in all parts of the world.

Christian Leuprecht (Policy Studies)

The war may be on the other side of the Atlantic, but in our interconnected world, Russia's efforts to spread misinformation will easily find their way to Canadian viewers. Christian Leuprecht, an expert on security and defence and political demography, talks to CBC News about how Canadians need to be wary of falling for fake reports as Russian disinformation campaigns are expected.

“The average Canadian should be concerned about disinformation, misinformation and information laundering, all of which the Russians are actively propagating,” he says. “Many people continue to work from home, so that makes them inadvertent conduits for bad actors to try to infiltrate corporations… So every Canadian in a way has a role to play here. ”

CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cyber-russia-cse-1.6362878

Oil and gas

Thomas Hughes (Political Studies)

The war in Ukraine is having an impact on consumers here in Canada and around the world.  Thomas Hughes, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queen’s University who has researched the political effects of military exercises in Europe, talks to Global News about how Canadians will likely see an increase in the price of oil and gas. Russia is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil on the international market.

“Of primary concern for Ontario is Russian oil export,” he says. “The reality is, we are going to see a deficit in oil and gas. It is going to be a challenge for Russia. The extent of that, to be confirmed.”

Global News: https://globalnews.ca/video/8647643/russian-ukrainian-wars-local-economic-impact/

David Detomasi (Smith School of Business)

Countries around the world have a strong reliance on Russian oil and gas, and many are wondering whether U.S. production can instead help meet the demand. David Detomasi, an expert in the geopolitics of oil, explains to the Spokesman-Review why calls for the U.S. to boost oil and gas production and impose sanctions on Russian fossil fuel exports face challenges. Dr. Detomasi says the idea that the U.S. could transport enough gas to Europe, which would be limited to transportation on ships, to substantially relieve its dependency on Russia is not plausible at this time.

Dr. Detomasi says the Ukraine crisis should be a wake-up call for the United States and its allies that a tight energy market gives countries like Russia leverage they can exert to get their way, perhaps even in war.

“It is a stark reminder of how dependent the world remains on oil and natural gas… The more we have robust, ethically produced oil and natural gas in the world, the less folks like Putin and others can play this geopolitical card.”

The Spokesman-Review: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/feb/27/northwest-republicans-call-on-biden-to-boost-us-oi/

Cryptocurrency and crowdfunding

Erica Pimentel (Smith School of Business)

Earlier in February, there were reports of Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups embracing cryptocurrencies to help fund the defence of their country in anticipation of a war. Erica Pimentel, who has researched the challenges in auditing blockchain based assets, explains to Today U.K. News how cryptocurrency provides an alternative to traditional fundraising platforms.

“Social movements will eventually raise money through blockchain-based crowdfunding platforms,” she says. “I think that, going forward, using decentralized forms of financing that are difficult for governments to interfere with will become the norm.”

Today UK News: https://todayuknews.com/crypto-currency/bitcoin-at-the-barricades-ottawa-ukraine-and-beyond/

Canada’s sanctions on Russia

Christian Leuprecht (Policy Studies)

Canada has imposed some sanctions on Russia, but many believe there is more to be done. Christian Leuprecht wrote an op-ed for the National Post that examines how Canada is enabling Russia by opposing pipelines and protecting money launderers. Dr. Leuprecht writes that the federal government’s sanctions against Russia are largely performative because Canada’s relations with Russia are already so limited.

“If Canada’s federal government were to adopt Australian-style foreign interference legislation and U.K.-style Unexplained Wealth Orders, it could actually start to go after dirty Russian money that has long sloshed around in Toronto’s real estate markets.” 

“Canada has ample supply of natural gas to liquify and export. Yet, Canada lags way behind in that game because it naively has no sense for geopolitics. Make no mistake: Canadians who oppose construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, and pipeline capacity to enable liquified natural gas exports from Canada’s East Coast to Europe, are aiding, abetting, and condoning Putin’s behaviour.”

National Post: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/christian-leuprecht-canada-enables-russia-by-opposing-pipelines-and-protecting-money-launderers

Queen’s University encourages its research experts to add to the global conversation as the situation continues to rapidly evolve. If you are interested in contributing to the conversation, please contact media relations officer Victoria Klassen (victoria.klassen@queensu.ca or 343-363-1794).