Update on the Crisis in Ukraine

An Election

Once the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia, abandoning his country, and it became apparent that a movement existed in Crimea to rejoin Russia existed, the situation, which had been an internal struggle over the economy and future direction of the nation, quickly spiraled into further chaos.

Crimea Medvedev-1Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, speaks to Crimean Premier Sergei Aksyonov while visiting Crimea in Simferopol, Crimea, Monday, March 31, 2014.

First, the self-exiled president called for an election in Crimea for the people there to decide if they wanted to remain part of Ukraine or rejoin the Russian federation. A quick election took place with a reported 88 percent of the population there desiring reconciliation with Russia. Ukrainians living outside Crimea weren’t allowed to vote; if they had we could assume that the election results would be very different. But that vote is all that the Russians need to support their political ambitions of keeping Ukraine under their political control. To make a quick comparison to the United States, imagine if many people in New Jersey wanted to become English citizens again. Now imagine if a state-wide vote revealed that 88 percent of the people in the state wanted to rejoin the United Kingdom. How would we feel? That’s the way Ukrainian people feel right now!

Russia Invades

Uniformed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk in formation near Ukrainian military baseAs the Russians already occupied a naval base in Crimea (at Sevastopol) based on a treaty with Ukraine, they were able to quickly increase their military presence in the area. Ships and troops were moved onto the base, threatening Ukraine. In addition, pro-Russian Crimean militia joined their Russian brethren taking over the surrounding area.

Russian President Vladimir Putin then signed a treaty to incorporate the Crimea back into its territory. This move as welcomed by many Russians but condemned by Ukraine’s new government, which called Putin’s move “a threat to the civilized world and international security.”

The West and Ukraine described the Crimean referendum as illegitimate and being held at gunpoint. The United States and European allies imposed economic sanctions on Russia, targeting Russian and Crimean officials with visa bans and asset freezes.

Newly-elected Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov has his back against the wall. His forces are too small to oppose the Russian military. Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh was refused entry to Crimea when he tried to visit the region last week. Even he couldn’t enter the area.

NATO Responds

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NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed after World War II to balance the Russian influence in Eastern Europe. NATO’s collective economic strength is 20 times wealthier than Russia ($40 trillion in GDP versus $2 trillion). NATO’s collective military strength is also overwhelming compared to the Russians. However, as Ukraine is not a member of NATO, any threat to their national security will not trigger an armed response from NATO states. Thus, as of now there will not be any fighting between NATO forces and Russian forces.

So far, NATO will only say that they will conduct “war games.” These maneuvers are the traditional way that countries flex their military muscle at a threat without any type of formal declaration of hostilities. However, military forces in some NATO member countries, like Poland and Germany, have their forces on high alert.

The USA is the most important NATO member (followed by Germany, Britain, and France) and is still involved in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the American public wouldn’t support another war, any response by NATO will be symbolic at best.

Summing Up

What is evident by Russia’s previous invasion of Georgia and its invasion of Crimea is that the Russians deeply want to regain territory lost with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. A majority of Russian citizens seem to support this annexation of territory. The present situation in the region is analogous to Germany in the late 1930s. Back then, Adolf Hitler was suing his military (1935 in the Rhineland and 1938 in Czechoslovakia) questionable elections (in 1938 in Austria) to reclaim territory lost at the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Hitler was adored by the masses of German citizens who believed he was restoring their lost pride. Unfortunately, his machinations led directly to World War II (September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945).

This situation in Crimea is alarming, but does not yet pose a real threat to the stability of Europe. We should, however, be concerned to the extent that a newly-democratic nation has had part of its sovereign territory taken over by another nation. We, therefore, need to closely monitor Russia’s geographic aspirations. Small nations need to have their sovereignty respected.

Interested in learning more about Criminal Justice? Click here to find out what Criminal Justice Programs we offer here at Albertus Magnus College.

michael-gearyMichael Geary
Sociology Department
Associate Professor, Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program
B.S., Mercy College
M.S., Long Island University
J.D., Pace University

Read more from Michael Geary:

National Security and Civil Liberty: A Chronological Perspective. M. Geary (2014) Carolina Academic Press.

Terrorism Investigations and the Public Safety Exception to the Miranda Rule. M. Geary (2013) Homeland Security Review, Volume 7, Number 3.

Dreams in Graphic Detail

g9ogbsm2Albertus senior Beata Brouard showcases art exhibit featuring classmate Rebecca Samuels.

Senior Rebecca Samuels currently has her exhibit “Circular Somethings” featured inside the Hubert Campus Center at Albertus Magnus College. An East Haven, Connecticut native, Samuels will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in art (with a concentration in graphic design) and a minor in computer science. This student exhibit is an opportunity offered through Professor Jerome Nevins’ Senior Project class. After graduation, Samuels plans to continue with her current internship with FastSigns in North Haven, Connecticut. “I think I will work there for a while”, said Samuels. “I learn more and more every day from one of my bosses, who I feel can also be considered my mentor, Kim.” Samuels’ internship has helped her to further develop as a professional, swiftly growing with the skills she has learned while earning her degree.

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Having a lifelong love of art, Samuels began to discover how a lifelong passion could translate into a career through an Albertus degree. “I knew my interest in art could take me further when Professor Nevins noticed how easily Adobe Photoshop came to me (as opposed to others). He said that I should really consider a career in it, and that’s what I plan to do now!” Through her opportunity to showcase her work in the student gallery, Professor Nevins has helped Samuels use her strengths and grow as an artist. For her Senior Show, Samuels found inspiration from the “Flower of Life” found in the Temple of Osiris in Egypt. Dating back to 10,500 B.C., this historical form of radial symmetry represents more than meets the eye. “Although it is only composed of circles, The Flower of Life has a complete other spiritual meaning to those who know it. I would say this is one piece of art that has definitely inspired me with my “Circular Somethings.”

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“Circular Somethings” is a series of graphic images created from photos brought to life with Adobe Photoshop. Samuels gathered photos of different items in her daily life, rotating her work several times to create a star. Each of Samuels’ pieces is very different, including pieces created from the exact same photograph. Turning seemingly “ordinary” objects into beautiful pieces of art, Samuels’ work embodies all she has learned with seamless grace. “Circular Somethings” is on display in the Margaret L. MacDonough Gallery inside the Hubert Campus center. The exhibit continues through Friday, April 4, 2014.

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Beata Brouard
Year: Senior
Major: Communications

Falcons Fly South

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The first week of Albertus Magnus softball has got to be the most exciting week for the team. On March 9, the team traveled down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for spring training and to open up the season. For the five days spent down there we played a total of eight games and finished splitting those games, won 4 and lost 4. Being able to have this chance down in Myrtle allows all the players to get a chance to play in different positions they may have never played before. Having this experience enables the players to understand the game from all areas on the field.We as players know that we have to be prepared to play anywhere that our coach asks us. This is a great opportunity for the team to really get comfortable with one another and build an inseparable bond as well.

While in Myrtle Beach, the team played two games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and played one game Thursday and Friday. Having this schedule allowed the team to have some down time. This down time was spent together, having the chance to go to the Board Walk, go out for team dinners and have a night in and watch movies to prepare for the next day. We knew what we were down there for, to have fun, but to have fun on and off the field, and I think that is something we accomplished. When it came to game time we all put our game faces on and played the best of our ability, win or lose as long as we know we played with heart and enjoyed playing. Being able to spend so much time with one another allows the team to come back home as a family and carry on this relationship into the season.

Sunday, March 23, was the team’s first home game held at West Haven High School’s field. The Falcons faced the Brooklyn College Bulldogs in a double header taking home two victories! We have never been more fired up for this season and truly believe that we will be very successful. Come out and help support softball this year, see you there. Go Falcons!

SeaverJessica Seaver
Year: Freshman
Position: 2nd Base
Major: Sports Management