SCRANTON, Pa. — University of Scranton Political Science Professor Dr. Gretchen Van Dyke said Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent moves highlight a struggling leader trying to remain relevant.
"He is taking what little power he has, which is the military power of Russia, which is well-established, and trying to exert his influence," she said.
University of Scranton History Professor Dr. Sean Brennan said the Russian President is advancing a conflict that's been going on since 2014 when Russia took over Crimea.
"Putin has said this a number of times now, he has said that numerous people who were part of the Russian Empire, and later part of the Soviet Union, do not have a national identity of their own, outside of being part of a Russian state," he said.
Brennan said that doesn't check out. While Kyiv was once a stronghold of the Russian State, a separate Ukrainian culture has existed for hundreds of years.
"Putin made it very clear [Monday], he does not view Ukraine to be an independent nation with a destiny separate from Russia," Brennan said. "He's not trying to restore communism, but he is trying to restore what he sees as Russia's rightful sphere of influence."
Van Dyke said the new U.S. economic sanctions on Russia add to the growing disapproval from the West.
"The United States' sanctions, combined with the sanctions from the European Union, are putting pressure on those who have the money in Russia, who the become the pressure points on Putin," Van Dyke said.
She believes the German Chancellor stopping the certification of a Baltic Sea pipeline between Russia and Germany may be the most significant of all, further damaging the gas-reliant Russian economy.
Still, Van Dyke expects Putin to push on in spite of the sanctions but believes all parties want to avoid conflict between Russia and the United States.
"Millions of Ukrainians would be seriously hurt and killed in the process," she said. "That wouldn't serve anyone well."
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