The Current War in Ukraine

Panel discussion with professors from UCLA Department of Sociology, UCLA Department of History, and UCLA Department of Political Sciences

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UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies hosted a panel discussion with UCLA professors on "The Current War in Ukraine". The event took place online via a Zoom webinar on March 1, 2022. Biographies of our panelists and moderator are available below.

If you missed the event, you are welcome to watch the recording here on our website or on our YouTube Channel. If you prefer the read a concise summary of the webinar discussion, you can read an article titled "UCLA experts foresee drawn-out conflict in Ukraine" written by Madeline Adamo and published in UCLA Newsroom on March 2, 2022.   



Michael Mann, Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Sociology, UCLA

Michael Mann is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at UCLA and one of the world’s eminent social historians. He has a BA and D.Phil. from Oxford University, and has been awarded three honorary doctorates (Hon.D.Litts.) from McGill University, Montreal, University College, Dublin, and The University of the Aegean. After graduating from Oxford he worked at Cambridge University, The University of Essex, the London School of Economics, and (from 1987), the University of California at Los Angeles. He was Visiting Research Professor at The Queens University, Belfast, during 2003-2007, and in 2004-2005 he was the Visiting Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University. In 2008 he was awarded an Honorary Professorship at Cambridge. In 2015 he was elected a Fellow of both the American and British Academies. His major publication project is the four volume The Sources of Social Power, all published by Cambridge University Press. Volume I: A History of Power from the Beginning to 1760 (1986), Volume II: The Rise of Classes and Nation-States, 1760 -1914 (1993), Volume III: Global Empires and Revolution, 1890-1945 (2012), and Volume IV: Globalizations, 1945 -2012 (2013). He is currently finishing his book On Wars, which will be published by the Yale University Press.


Jared McBride, Assistant Adjunct Professor, Department of History, UCLA

Jared McBride received his doctorate from the History Department at UCLA in 2014. His work specializes in the regions of Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe in the 20th century and his research interests include borderlands studies, nationalist movements, mass violence and genocide, the Holocaust, inter-ethnic conflict, and war crimes prosecution. He is currently completing a book manuscript on local perpetrators and interethnic violence in Nazi-occupied western Ukraine. He held post-doc positions at the USC Shoah Foundation; Columbia University; Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute; and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. His research has been supported by Fulbright, SSRC, and Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, among others and his work has been published in Slavic Review, Journal of Genocide Research, Carl Beck Papers, Ab Imperio, and Kritika. He has published online articles with The Nation, Los Angeles Times, Haaretz, and openDemocracy.


Daniel Treisman, Professor, Department of Political Science, UCLA

Daniel Treisman is a professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was educated at Oxford University (BA Hons. 1986) and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1995). Treisman’s work focuses on Russian politics and economics and comparative political economy. He has published four books and many articles in leading political science and economics journals including The American Political Science Review and The American Economic Review, as well as in the public affairs journals Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. A former interim lead editor of The American Political Science Review, he has also served as a consultant for the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and as acting director of UCLA’s Center for European and Eurasian Studies. In Russia, he is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Higher School of Economics and a member of the Jury of the National Prize in Applied Economics. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution (Stanford) and the Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna), and has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the US and the Smith Richardson Foundation. His latest book, The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev (The Free Press, 2011) was one of the Financial Times’ Best Political Books of 2011.



Gail Kligman, Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, UCLA

Gail Kligman’s research has focused on politics, culture, and gender in Central East Europe, both during the communist period and since its demise, and includes extensive field research in Romania. She is co-author with Katherine Verdery of Peasants under Siege: Collectivization in Romania, 1949-1962 (Princeton UP, 2011), which won the 2012 Barbara Jelavich Book Prize, the Davis Center Book Prize, and the Heldt Prize from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and received two Honorable Mentions by the American Sociological Association for Best Book in Comparative-Historical Sociology and Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship, Political Sociology Section Best Book. She is co-author with Susan Gal of The Politics of Gender after Socialism: A Comparative-Historical Essay (Princeton UP, 2000), which won the 2001 Heldt Prize of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. She is also the author of The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceauşescu's Romania (UC Press, 1998), which also won the Heldt Prize, and of The Wedding of the Dead: Ritual, Poetics and Popular Culture in Transylvania (UC Press, 1988). Kligman has held teaching appointments at the University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, and Georgetown University. She has received many prestigious research grants, including awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the MacArthur Foundation, the Soros Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation.

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Duration: 01:26:25



Thanks to our audience for joining us this fall for

this informal, but important conversation on the

current war in Ukraine. I want to express my deep

thanks to our speakers today, our panelists,

and moderator for being willing to say

what they can in the midst of a rapidly changing

and deeply disturbing situation on the ground.

I will just briefly introduce our participants

and we will have fuller bios in the chat box for

you to read. I'll be brief in the introductions.

I want to first thank professor Gail Kligman who

initiated and organized this colloquium in such

a short time. We all recognize the challenge

of mobilizing an improvised response to urgent events,

and we are all the more appreciative of the efforts

that have been made to make the gathering happen.

Professor Kligman is distinguished professor of

sociology. Her work focuses on politics, culture,

and gender in Central East Europe, especially

Romania, during both socialism and post-socialism,

as well as migration and social theory. She is the

co-author with Katherine Verdery of "Peasants under

Siege: Collectivization in Romania, 1949-1962,"

which won the 2012 Barbara Jelavich Book Prize,

the Davis Center Book Prize, and the Heldt Prize from

the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies,

and received also two honorable

mentions by the American Sociological Association

for Best Book in Comparative-Historical Sociology

and Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship,

Political Sociology Section Best Book.

She is also co-author with Susan Gal

of "The Politics of Gender after Socialism:

A Comparative Historical Essay", which won the 2001

Heldt Prize of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies.

Michael Mann is distinguished research

professor in the Department of Sociology,

an eminent social historian with current research on,

among other things, wars, capitalism,

and empire. His major publication project is

the four-volume "The Sources of Social Power,"

all published by Cambridge University Press,

including "A History of Power from the Beginning to 1760",

"The Rise of Classes and Nation-States, 1760 -1914",

"Global Empires and Revolution, 1890-1945", and "Globalizations, 1945 -2012".

He's currently finishing his book on wars, which will be published by

Yale University Press.

Daniel Treisman is professor of political science and

research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

His research focuses on Russian politics

and economics, as well as comparative political

economy, including in particular the analysis of

democratization, the politics of authoritarian

states, political decentralization, and corruption.

His latest book co-authored with Sergei Guriev,

"Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in

the 21st Century," will be released by Princeton

University Press in April 2022. His book "The Return:

Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev"

was one of the Financial Times'

Best Political Books of 2011.

Finally, Jared McBride is assistant adjunct

professor in the Department of History.

His work specializes in the regions of Russia,

Ukraine and Eastern Europe in the 20th century,

with a focus on borderland studies, nationalist

movements, mass violence, and genocide, the Holocaust,

inter-ethnic conflict, and war crimes prosecution.

He is currently completing a book manuscript

on local perpetrators and inter-ethnic

violence in Nazi-occupied Western Ukraine.

He's published online articles with The Nation,

Los Angeles Times, Haaretz, and Open Democracy.

Thanks again to all of our participants. I'd also

like to thank our Center's Executive Director,

Liana Grancea, and Outreach Director, Lenka Unge,

for their contributions to today's event. Thanks also

to the Burkle Center for International Relations

for its co-sponsorship. As is our custom here at

UCLA, I want to acknowledge that we are here on

the territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples,

who are the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar,

the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands.

As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Ancestors,

Elders, and relatives and relations past, present and emerging.

Reading that acknowledgement in the context of a talk on

territorial aggression and dispossession is not of course lost on us.

A quick reminder for the audience: Please write your

questions in the Q&A box at any time during the discussion.

The presenters will be able to see them and

professor Kligman will be able to read them

during the Q&A. The talk will be recorded for

viewing afterwards via Facebook and website.

With that I turn the podium over to professor Kligman.

Yes, thank you so much and welcome to

everybody, our panelists, and the audience. The

way we've organized this, at least roughly,

is that we will begin with Jared McBride.

We will move on to Dan Treisman,

and then to Mick Mann. Each person will

speak at least 10 minutes, perhaps up to 15.

There will be some time for a discussion

between them, and then we will, of course, open

the floor to your questions and comments.

Please keep in mind in the Q&A that this is a very,

of course, difficult issue at the moment. It's a very

fluid situation and I'm sure that some people have

very impassioned views about this. Please ask

questions, not soliloquies on the situation.

As professor Hart has already mentioned, this is

undoubtedly the first of a number of discussions

that we'll be holding on this unfolding event,

as again, it is very, very fluid and volatile.

Okay! With no further due, I'm going to turn the

floor over to Jared McBride. Thanks, Gail.

Thanks, professor Kligman, professor Hart, for the

invitation to join everyone today, and also the

staff at the European Center, for putting together

a talk so quickly, which is, I think, really important

given the moment that we're in.

I wanted to start today with three caveats

and then I'll get into some of the more

substantive comments. And my first caveat,

I know there's probably a lot of students attending,

some of my own students and others at the university,

and I just want to reach out to all students

who have ties to this region, familial

or otherwise, to let you know that there are

resources on campus for counseling and for help.

This is an extremely difficult time for many,

and I want to make that point. And I want

to make the point to other people, part of the UCLA

community, who know people who are affected by this

conflict, to reach out to them, given how difficult

this moment is. As someone who spent a lot of

time in Russia, in Ukraine, and in one of the

cities that is under siege right now,

the pain, the disorientation,

and just raw emotion is almost difficult

to explain and process. To quote another

colleague who wrote a piece yesterday

about this, she said: As a Soviet historian, one is

used to encountering much pain not only historically,

but also in present-day, post-Soviet space.

Yet, the vicious and unnecessary nature of what is

happening now is beyond this scale.

So if we feel this way, people have connections to the

region, those who are directly affected by these

events right now, it's gonna be magnified

by a thousand times. So I wanted to start

with that comment. I also want to publicly state

that I hope that UCLA and the UC system

will take efforts in the near future to support

our Ukrainian colleagues in the academy, but

also Ukrainian citizens in general, who are

being affected by this conflict. And I'm very

interested in participating, in being a part of that.

And then third, anyone, other parties at

UCLA, who are looking to hold future events on

campus, who want to include Ukrainian voices,

please contact me. I will put you in touch with Ukrainian

colleagues and others to help hold other events on

campus and let their voices be heard. So with those

comments made, I want to give a couple observations

on the current war. As professor Kligman has

already mentioned, things are rapidly unfolding.

This is not necessarily the best domain for

historians to be making comments, so I just want

to give a couple observations on the current

situation in Ukraine, and then a more

historical observation, perhaps part of

the conversation today that I can contribute

to as a historian. So first and foremost

just on the war itself, and I really do think

this has to be stated before anything else is

stated, that we are seeing a humanitarian crisis

unfold. We all have people, who work in this

region, have friends and colleagues that are

currently trapped in cities and unable

to leave. We have friends and colleagues who

are trapped outside of Ukraine and unable to get

in touch with families, or reconnect with families.

And the human toll of the war already in a week

is enormous, as many of you've been able to see

on your TVs and in newspapers. As of today,

at least it looks like something of the nature of

at least as far as I understand, about on scale

with what we saw on the Balkans in the 90s,

but is surely going to surpass it probably by the end

of the week, making this the worst refugee crisis

in Europe since World War II. So I want to

acknowledge that and I want to encourage everyone

to find ways to support these refugees during

this current moment. Turning to the conflict itself,

to the the war in Ukraine, my first comment

is on the Ukrainian resistance, or

the resistance that we've seen from the Ukrainian

people so far. I'm not a military analyst,

and I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of

how the military conflict is unfolding beyond

what trusted colleagues and experts tell me,

or I've seen in public writing, but I do want

to focus on the resistance of average

Ukrainians to the invasion and occupation.

I don't think anyone who's spent any time in Ukraine in

recent years, especially since 2014, whereas followed

along with public sentiment by a polling or other

metrics, is surprised at all at the reaction by

a wide swath of Ukrainian society to this invasion.

I think the idea that once the Russians

have incapacitated the Ukrainian military, which as

we've seen did not happen, that they would somehow

be able to waltz into Kyiv and other cities,

is simply preposterous, which actually brings

me to a question for some of the others

today: How is it that this seemingly was

the assessment of Putin and the Russian

leadership at this time? To have assumed that

this was going to be a two to three-day

affair with little push-back or resistance

strikes me as delusional. So I really would like

to hear some other comments or thoughts on

this particular point. So building off

of this point about Ukrainian resistance,

let's say a few words about a potential insurgency.

One of the things, that I think a lot of experts

were trying to figure out in the first 24 hours,

was what were going to be the goals

for the Russian militarily, politically as

well as geographically, during the invasion.

It now appears that the occupation will be limited,

at least at the moment, to these 1922

borders with Poland, with the invasion or

kind of the borderline coming down somewhere

either through Zhytomyr Oblast, or perhaps

between Zhytomyr Oblast and Rivne Oblast.

This, at least again for the moment, means that there

won't be a full occupation of the country - something that,

of course, we all feared in addition to whatever

we're seeing happening right now. And so related to

this point, even if larger-scale military engagements

end in the coming days, or weeks, or even months,

I still think there's certainly a possibility,

or a likely possibility for an insurgency,

especially given what I just said about the

geography, leaving open these regions,

or unoccupied regions of Volhynia, Galicia, and Podolia -

which could certainly serve as a staging ground

for this insurgency, a place to train and arm

groups. It would appear, especially what we've

seen from the last 48 hours, that the West would

support this effort, and we know that arms

and other guns are already flowing across that Polish

border into those regions of Galicia and Volhynia.

And of course, I'm not to take a

position on this possible scenario,

but I think it's simply worth noting that when

tank battles end, that there could still be

a great deal of violence to come, albeit in new forms.

And we have certainly seen in recent years what

a well-equipped and motivated insurgencies

can do to sizable modern armies.

I think the illusion there should probably

be obvious. And I want to turn

now to some historical issues related to the

conflict, in particular to World War II.

World War II is very much present in the

current conflict and we've seen repeated

references to quote-unquote "denazification",

"fascists", and other language that makes

direct reference to World War II, and the

Ukrainian nationalist movement. And interestingly,

at least in my experience over the last week,

most questions from the general public in the US

are often about why these terms are being used,

and why they're coming up in a conflict

here in 2022. I suspect a lot of people

in the audience today will perhaps understand

a lot of the context around these comments,

but at least it's worth explaining this terminology

a little clearer for everyone, and making quite

obvious the point that this terminology is making

specific reference to Ukrainian nationalist

organizations, that operated in the interwar period,

the wartime period, and then the immediate

post-war period. In particular the OUN,

a far right-wing, ethno-nationalist organization,

that did cooperate with the Nazis prior to the war,

and had a very short-lived official relationship with

them during the war, is usually the organization

that has been targeted in these comments.

Though the OUN was not, and Ukrainians were not,

given statehood as they hoped by the Nazis, many

of their members did continue to serve in Nazi-run

units until as late as 1943. The OUN then helped

found something called the Ukrainian Insurgent Army,

often referred to as the UPA,

that carried out a guerrilla war somewhat against

the Germans, but particularly against the Soviets,

until the early 1950s, as well as carrying out

violence against some of their ethnic neighbors

in western Ukraine, as well as fellow Ukrainians.

Now, a lot of people in the West, and kind of

the coverage of Putin's comments over the last week,

did not catch this term "banderovtsy", which was

actually included, I believe, on Monday's speech,

which actually makes reference to the leader

of the OUN, Stepan Bandera. And this had

become a common moniker for the entire

movement during and after the war, in particular

in the Soviet period. So this language of casting

Ukrainians as fascists, as bandits, or bandity has

been routinely used throughout the Soviet period,

and has survived in many ways in popular culture

in the worldview of many Russians today. Now, while

there's certainly deeply-troubling aspects of this

particular part of Ukrainian history, that we are

continuing to research, my own work focuses on this,

this certainly does not explain the entirety of

Ukrainian behavior during World War II.

Millions of Ukrainians died during the occupation.

Over 1 million Ukrainians died fighting in the Red Army,

hundreds of thousands joined the Soviet

partisans, not necessarily for ideological

reasons, but to defend their homes and their

communities, and many took no sides at all.

So I think that painting the current Ukrainian government

as the ideological heirs to the old OUN or the UPA,

to quote a 2014 Putin's speech, is patently absurd.

At least it needs to be said. The same goes

for painting all of Ukrainian society

or the Ukrainian military in this manner.

And yes, we should acknowledge that there are

bad actors today in Ukraine, far right-wing

organizations and paramilitary groups,

but the idea that they represent the majority,

or even a significant portion of Ukrainian

society, is not true. One last point

on these World War II references. I think it's

also important to keep in mind that they did

not start with this current phase of the conflict,

so wherever you want to piece that portion out,

maybe the last six months or last couple

months, and in fact did not even start in 2014

after the Euromaidan Revolution, when this

language was also regularly employed by the

Russian government. In fact, we saw

sort of an uptick on this in reaction to

the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005, that saw

the Kremlin and his sallies really begin to

repurpose this history for geopolitical aims.

I would say also the colored revolutions followed by

conflicts with the Baltic, starting around 2007,

led to a wide-scale, coordinated attempt

in the media, scholarship, and popular culture domains

to open up what historians often refer to as

memory wars or history wars. There was indeed

a Ukrainian side in response to these wars, as well.

I'm happy to discuss that again in some of the

details of the back and forth of these kind of

memory wars over the legacy of World War II,

but at least I just wanted to flag for our

participants today the deeper history of

this terminology in the post-Soviet period.

I realized that was amazingly ten minutes.

We were told to provide some

questions for our other colleagues here today

and at least just maybe two questions

off the top of my head for the others.

Obviously, we're all very interested in the

situation in Russia, in any chance for

change in the political system there.

My question would be to the colleagues:

Do we see that as more likely coming from above

or below? Is this going to be a change that will

come from elites, who are going to be dissatisfied with

the sanctions? Or is civil society strong enough to

really marshal any effort in response to the war?

What kind of relationship will

we see in terms of reaction in Russia?

And then I guess I had some questions about

the drop of the ruble. There was a really

interesting quote that I had seen recently.

I don't remember who it was from.

The quote saying that the second ruble

drop in 1999 actually represented

the second founding of the Russian state,

given what it had done economically

to reshape the political system, and also socially

and otherwise. I'd just be curious to think

any forecasts or thoughts about what this

collapse of the ruble now will mean,

if this will be a founding of the third Russian

state. I will leave it there. Thank you!

Thank you so much! And now we'll move on to Dan.

Thanks, Gail, and thanks, Laurie, for inviting me.

I'm going to talk a bit about Russia

and Russia's role in all of this. But first,

let me say I very much share what Jared said at the

beginning - deep concern and sympathy for Ukrainians

being attacked in Ukraine, and also for Ukrainians

in our community, scholars, and students at UCLA.

My heart is with you! I also want to say

from the start that we shouldn't think of this

as a Russian war. Of course, it is a Russian war,

but I think it's truer to say that it's Putin's war.

Very few people were apparently

consulted before he made this decision.

Very few people were in any position to stop it,

and a very large number of people,

I'll get to this in a minute, were shocked and

ashamed, horrified when they saw the news.

So to focus on Russia,

and how we got to this horrible moment,

Putin really gave three reasons for his

decision in that rather strange speech,

that he gave about a week ago. And these

three are not necessarily very compatible.

They all suggest different final

objectives. So his first motivation

or goal had to do with ideology.

He talks about this idea of

a sort of Russian nation, a kind of primordial

historic Russia, which includes not just

people who think of themselves as Russians,

but also Ukrainians and Belarusians.

And so he talked about the goal

of uniting these three peoples.

The second goal that he talked

about was what he called

"denazificaiton of the Ukrainian regime."

Now, as Jared has pointed out, that's a very strange

thing to talk about with regard to modern Ukraine.

It's even more strange given that the president

of Ukraine, Zelensky, is himself Jewish, and I believe

a great-grandson of Holocaust survivors.

But what Putin seems to mean by this

is to kill or arrest the members of the

Ukrainian-elected government and replace

it with a quisling government loyal to Russia.

And the third goal that he talked

about in that speech was demilitarization.

He discussed this in the context of NATO

and NATO's expansion, and he claimed,

with absolutely no evidence that

I know of, that Ukraine was seeking

to acquire nuclear weapons, or to develop

nuclear weapons, that it was about to be

incorporated into NATO. This would be an

existential threat for Russia and therefore

it was necessary to prevent this by demilitarizing

Ukraine. So we have these three potential goals,

which he throws out there and it's up to us to try

and figure out which really matters, which is

a decoy, what really is in his head.

Of course, it's just about impossible

to know that with any confidence.

Looking at how the war has gone

in the first days, I think Putin at this point

understands that it was a mistake.

And I think just about everybody in Russia, who

follows this, also sees that it was a big mistake.

Mistake in three ways, three different sets

of miscalculations. First of all, I think

Putin miscalculated the strength of Ukrainian

resistance, the strength of the Ukrainian defense.

He thought the Ukrainian defense would

be very weak. Apparently, they anticipated

being able to take Kyiv in two days, and the

whole operation lasting no more than two weeks.

Jared asked how could that be possible.

How could somebody miscalculate that badly

in that regard? I think, in part, Putin

looked at Zelensky's low popularity.

In the polls, he had about 33-34 percent approval.

The Rada, the parliament, had only

Service, was doing polls. I think it was

possible, and part of this, I believe, is just

the ongoing feeding of distorted information

to Putin over the course of years. Basically

information that confirms his stereotypes,

and prejudices, and misperceptions, and tells him

what he wants to believe. So I think the story

that was probably told to him by the security

service and military information sources is that

the Zelensky regime was deeply unpopular. If the

Russians invaded, Zelensky would flee, there would be

a lot of support for the Russian troops,

and very little resistance. Okay, we now see

that was a major miscalculation. The second big

miscalculation has to do with the West

and the reaction of the West. I think none of us knew,

until we saw it happening, just how comprehensive

and really overwhelming the Western response

would be. First of all, extremely strong sanctions.

The strongest sanction is, in the

short-run, the blocking of accounts of the

Russian Central Bank, making it impossible for

it to use most of those 643 billion dollars in

currency gold reserves. A whole range of

sanctions. It's not just economic sanctions.

It's the symbolic force of the way Russia has

been isolated, so that nobody wants to play

soccer with the Russian teams,

Valery Gergiev can't go and conduct at La Scala,

the Bolshoi Ballet can't perform in Covent Garden.

Just across the spectrum, all these groups

and all these countries, not just NATO countries,

have taken actions and have really rejected

in very clear terms what Russia has done.

And I think Putin didn't expect that. He expected

something a bit stronger than the rather

weak sanctions in response after the Crimea

annexation. It's turned out to be much bigger and

I think that's in part because we had all the

things that led up to this. It was a kind of

straw that broke the camel's back. And as

we see, there's a kind of collective dynamic

to this with all countries now joining this

united front. Or not all countries, but most

countries joining this united front against Russia.

And the third miscalculation, I think, is domestic

reaction. And we don't really know this or see this

clearly yet. The polls that have been taken and

published in Russia suggest there is a lot of,

at least superficial, initial support for Putin and

for the invasion. That's based on the extremely

misleading and inaccurate descriptions of

what's being done on the official media.

So I think there was some genuine support for

recognizing the Donbas republics as independent,

but if we look at polls that were taken in

December of last year, which asked whether

Russian people, whether respondents

would support an invasion

of Ukraine, or Russian troops fighting

against Ukrainian forces, and only, I believe,

eight percent said they supported that.

Only nine percent back in December said

that Russia should train and equip the

separatist forces in the Donbas republics.

So what we see is a very quick, kind of superficial,

I think, rally behind Putin at a time

of war, given the very strong propaganda in support,

and peoples', the ordinary persons', resistance to

unpleasant news that would make them feel bad

about their country. But what we also see is

large demonstrations going on over multiple days.

So at this point, more than 6,600 people have been

detained for demonstrating. There's immediate

police response. All of these demonstrations are

judged illegal. So that 6,600 detained tells

you just how many people are protesting.

This obviously is the most serious people,

who are prepared for immediate arrest.

We also see that there's an anti-war petition, which now has,

last I checked had, 1.1 million signatories.

against the war and against Putin's invasion.

So I think that's unexpected.

I think over time and really,

it's not just the mainstream. In fact,

I think there's more demoralization

and anxiety and just depression within the Russian

elite. There have been many open letters coming

from all sectors of the Russian intelligentsia,

economists, musicians, artists, journalists and so on.

Even 150 municipal councilors have very

quickly signed a letter of opposition. So there's that.

But also, I think, within the pro-Putin,

the previously pro-Putin elite, there's just great

disappointment, demoralization. At least this

is what we hear. Of course, it's very difficult

to judge, but from rumors about what's

actually happening within Kremlin right now.

Okay, so where does that leave us? It leaves us in

this horrible situation. The Ukrainian army has

fought, I would say, quite heroically and

quite effectively. I think most military analysts,

and I'm not a military analyst, but most of the

military analysts whom I trust, believe that it's

far from the end, and Russia has more forces

that it can throw into Ukraine and it will.

It started out with a strategy, which was

quite atypical. It went in with ground forces

rather than starting with aerial bombardment,

but now it's stepped up the bombing of

cities, of civilian residential

areas, and that, people believe,

is likely to continue, leading to much more

casualties. Probably, eventually it's more

likely than not, according to most military

analysts, that they will succeed in taking Kyiv,

and that'll leave us in a situation, which I think,

is going to be very difficult. Even from

the Russian side, they don't have enough troops

to occupy the whole country. I was interested by

Jared's suggestion that they plan only

to occupy half the country. I'm not yet sure

what their ultimate objective is. That is

very possible that only half, but even then,

it doesn't seem that they have enough troops and

that they're really qualified, the morale seems to

be quite low, whether they're really qualified

to fight what will, I think, be an extremely

motivated insurgency against

this quite brutal, colonial power.

So I think the Russians will find themselves

in a very difficult quagmire,

with demoralization within the elite, based on both the

economic sanctions and the very serious effects,

and also on this sense of isolation

from the world and shame of having become a

pariah state, a rogue state like North Korea.

That, of course, doesn't mean that the regime will

collapse overnight, but I think it's at greater

risk than it's been at for many years -

I think since Putin came to power. So I'll

stop there. I've gone more than ten minutes, but I'm

very happy and look forward

to answering questions afterwards.

Okay, shall I start?

I'll start at a more general level about the

nature of war in the modern period. There has been

a large decline in interstate wars since 1945,

but the slack has been taken up by civil wars

and by wars against non-state actors like ISIS.

Now, most of these wars are in the South of the

world, and we can comfort ourselves in the West

by saying: "Well, it's nothing to do with us,"

but of course it is, because we and many other

states are actively involved in supporting one

or other of the parties in these disputes. And we

also ship massive valuable quantities of arms to them.

Now, there is one type of interstate war,

which survives, and there are several examples of it

around the world now. We call it revisionism.

And that is where the rulers of one state or community

think that they have been deprived

illegitimately of territory that they

once had. So there are rival

conceptions of legitimacy and a mutual

sense of righteousness fueling a war.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are one example of that,

Israel and the Palestinians are another one.

Until recently in the Ukraine,

this was also the case in the Donbas area.

And then, obviously, there has been this massive

escalation beyond disputed borders

into a full-scale invasion conquest

of another country. More like an imperial war

of history. But there is a problem about

imperial wars in recent times, which is that

differently from empires in previous

eras, the imperialists who conquer,

the lesser the power, find

it extraordinarily difficult to find

clients, who will rule for them. And so we found in

Afghanistan twice - first the Soviets, then Americans,

and in Iraq - Americans, and also there are other

cases, where you win the battlefield victory,

but that isn't the end of it,

because there is an insurgency, which lasts.

And the reason for this is that modern times

have produced nationalism. The historic empires

have faced fragmented, decentralized communities,

and could always find clients who would eye the

struggle between the British and the local rulers,

decide who would win, and then join that side,

and help the British to rule. That's gone.

Neither the US nor Russia can find those clients

in countries today. I should also add that

wars of aggression don't always pay. In fact,

in the period since 1816, which is when political

scientists conduct their quantitative studies, you

find there are four different studies of wars

of aggression, and on average 50 percent of them

result in victory, and 50 percent don't. Now, that's

not a rational calculation to make if you're

a potential aggressor.

And I also found that in

older period of Latin American history,

in China, in various other places.

Now, the Russian build-up towards this has been

going on quite a while. What Russia is trying to do

first place like China, exactly like China,

is to restore the boundaries of the past.

All of the areas that China is either

repressing or expanding into, including the

China Sea, were once in Chinese Imperial State,

and so leading members of the Communist Party

believe that they are on a

mission to restore China's greatness.

Similarly, Putin who's described

World War II as the greatest tragedy

of the 20th century, sorry, the greatest

geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,

and a genuine tragedy for the Russian people, and he's

trying to restore an area that once was part of

Russia in Tsarist times, as well as Soviet times.

So there is a very strong sense of legitimacy there

by the Russian leadership. And they

have cumulatively pushed forward.

Now, their tactics have not always been the same,

as has been said, but if we take the history

of Chechnya, Georgia, and then Syria, the Syrian

intervention, we find generally the tactic is

one of recovering what territory that

is genuinely Russian, but by ferocious means,

by massive bombing that precedes the movement

of Russian troops on the ground, as it's been noted already.

And then we get the kind of switch to

the Ukraine, and we get Crimea, which was capable of

being done almost by stealth, and then the Donbas

region, where Russia actually showed restraint.

But in general, this is a history of

success by the Russian state, by Putin.

And the best predictor of whether war will happen

at time B, is whether it was successful at

time A and the earlier times,

too. That's the thing that encourages leaders

to keep going and conquer. And that is

exactly what Putin has been doing.

And now, having underestimated his

characteristic, the enemy, he is pausing and

moving to bomb

the hell out of them before you send in

the ground troops. So the war is going to get more

devastating, more horrible, more civilian casualties.

Russian revisionism isn't only about

restoring Russian boundaries. It's also

about defense against NATO. At the period of

Russian weakness, at the collapse of the

Soviet Union, NATO began expanding. First of all

Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic joined NATO

at the beginning of 1999, and then later all of the

other neighbors and near neighbors of Russia joined NATO.

And so now there are NATO missile sites

in Poland, and there are training exercises

in the Baltic states, and Russia is to the

West, encircled. So there is a sense of legitimacy

for which there should have been some

kind of negotiated solution some years ago.

However, that did not happen.

President Clinton's Defense Secretary Perry was

one of the wisest people on the issue. He said

it was a mistake to expand NATO to the boundaries

of Russia, because when Russia revived that could

only be trouble. And that's exactly what's happened.

Russia has revived militarily, because Putin

has put resources into that rather than into the

economic well-being of his people.

But he has created a formidable military force,

which he thought was capable of

acquiring, we don't know how much of Ukraine,

but a substantial part of Ukraine.

Now, in the invasion, he

characteristically underestimated

the ability to fight off his opponent.

When I say "characteristically", that means that

overconfidence is the most typical

feature of aggressive warfare. He had

a very low view of Ukrainians and

thought that he could walk through them.

But the Ukrainian resistance has lasted for

just enough time for the Western response

to become clear. Now, without that resistance,

if he had actually been able to do what he

thought he could do,

then the West would have done nothing.

It would have huffed and puffed,

but not doing anything. It's thanks to the heroism

of those Ukrainian soldiers and civilians

that something can be done and that all of this

aid is pouring to them from the West.

However, I'm very pessimistic about

the outcome in the sense that I think

the massive buildup of Russian

forces going on at the moment

around Kyiv will produce

battlefield victory for the Russians.

But they will then have the problem of how you

rule this country without loyal clients, because

they can have very few and those few

would be vulnerable to assassination.

And so the end game is not clear. What I've argued

is that a vast number of mistakes have been made

on both sides. There should have been a

deal about Ukrainian neutrality some years ago,

because the worst thing is war. That is the worst

thing that human beings do to each other.

It's much more important than self-determination.

And so that was the mistake of the West.

Now, it's Putin who's made all of the mistakes

and this is typical of wars, because wars are

irrational most of the time. Most wars are

irrational in terms of both means and ends.

This will end badly, with mass

suffering by the Ukrainian people,

perhaps by Russians, too. And I

cannot see what the end of it is.

Okay, thank you! At this point

if the panelists would like to

ask each other questions or comment

on your comments before we turn to

the audience for questions.

I could say something if that's okay.

Yeah, of course! I agree with

professor Mann's observation that

Putin is at this point focused on returning

to some previous borders of Russia, but the

interesting question is which? Because, of course,

Russia, or if you consider the Soviet State to

be a version of Russia in the 20th century,

Russia has had many borders

in different eras, which makes it kind of

important to know which he's aiming for.

And I looked at his speech carefully last week.

It's often said that Putin and the

Russians want to rebuild the Soviet Union,

but what was striking in that speech was how

angry he was at Lenin and the Bolsheviks for

messing up the Russian state, essentially

for including the secession clause in the

Constitution, that allowed the individual republics

to freely secede if they wanted. Now, I don't

think that that's actually what led to Ukraine

seceding, many republics succeeding in 1991,

but that seemed to be how Putin saw it. And the Russia

that he seems to have in his mind, it's this kind

of floating, primordial, historical Russia

made up of Russians, who maybe

think they're Ukrainians, but are really Russians,

so maybe from the late 19th century.

What we need to recognize, if that's the case, is

that the Russia of late 19th century included

a lot of other countries, some of which have large

Russian minorities. So the whole of Central Asia

was within the Russian Empire at that time,

including northern Kazakhstan today as a

concentrated Russian population, the Baltic states,

other territories in Eastern Europe, so

in a sense wanting to go back

to earlier borders

is always ambiguous, because you

have to wonder which borders.

Sometimes there's a clear historical

juncture at which the borders changed,

but as the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN put it very

eloquently, if African countries started trying to

unite ethnic communities,

then really all the borders and all

the states, the post-colonial states of

Africa, would be thrown into question.

So that's not so much a question.

That's a comment.

Yes, it remains ambiguous as to

how much of the Ukraine he A) wants or,

B) will be satisfied with if he can't get A.

And if he stops there.

Hence, the other counterproductive thing of his

invasion is the invitations of other states

to join NATO. Finland, Sweden

already are considering it,

and Ukraine has asked for it,

which it hasn't before.

I will raise a question, maybe just one

comment. Professor Mann's comments about

earlier successes - you made reference

to some of these earlier conflicts,

the incursions with Georgia, and Chechnya,

and suppressing the counter insurgency

there in the 90s, and even people have been

obviously pointing out the Russian involvement

in the Syrian Civil War. But what's, I think,

obviously striking with those examples versus what

we're seeing now, is that this is a radical

departure militarily, and the situation is

so strikingly different. And people

have made this similar point that

professor Mann made - that the

confidence here to undertake this move was

premised on these previous experiences, but even

to the non-expert eye, these are such

radically different scenarios. And that's why

I think so many people were so shocked to see this

kind of full-scale invasion versus more limited

incursions militarily and otherwise in these other examples.

So I just wanted to flag that. My

other question may be to professor Treisman.

Maybe trying to pull this back in time a

little bit into where I think a lot, at least a lot

of this current conflict, comes from, is the

responses to the Orange Revolution.

There would seem to be, at that time, a lot of

fear among Putin and the Russian government

that these popular revolutions are, of course

in their parlance, CIA-funded revolutions,

that these popular revolutions against governments in

the region - these color revolutions - could

spread, and that it was just sort of, you know, maybe

domino theory or uncontrollable fire that could

ignite in Russia, as well. And I just wondered -

this moment where we're in now and we're

constantly talking about the Russian fears about

geopolitics and the security order.

How responsible is it, just the domestic fears or

the fear to hold on to one's regime

that maybe ignited a lot of these early conflicts,

or kind of helped get us on this road?

I'm just wondering, are there any thoughts about

the domestic versus the international components

of what's driving the Russians here?

Well, you look at Putin

for a lot of years and

all the time you know you can't take anything he says

as transparently representing what he thinks.

But on the other hand, he's so consistent

and he's so emotional in talking about

the CIA, and Hillary Clinton, and Western

powers, Western security services

supporting not just Orange Revolutions and

protests, but supporting terrorists against Russia.

He really believes there's evidence that

the CIA was supporting some of the

groups in Chechnya, the anti-Russian

groups in Chechnya, so I've come to the

kind of tentative conclusion that he really

does believe that, and he does think that

the West is out to get him, to undermine his

regime. And that's part of his motivation.

I think what's interesting about Putin looking over

time is, he's had a number of themes,

of ideas, and ways of looking at the world,

which are inconsistent, but which have been combined.

And over time, some have grown stronger,

and some have grown weaker. Initially, the kind

of rational and pro-Western elements balanced

the more suspicious, dark, cynical elements,

but in part you see this play out not just

in his head, but in the people that he chooses

in his entourage. So he surrounded himself

with people who represent the very suspicious,

some people would say even paranoid, view of

the West and its attempts to undermine Russia.

So that side of his thinking seems

to have really taken over. And he brings

to it this particular, kind of pedantic, historical

idea that he can go into the archives

and get at the real history and then tell it

to everybody, which led to him publishing this

long historical essay in the summer and now

this latest speech. So I think

this gets to a question about

Is he unhinged? Has he gone mad?

I think it's not that. It's a kind of aging process

and a process of self-isolation, building his

environment in such a way that it panders

to a particular set of ideas that he's

maybe had from the start, but that are really

close to all that's left at this point.

I'll just respond to Jared's point

about escalation. He's right that the invasion

of Ukraine was a tremendous escalation, but if we

think of Hitler, then we think of the Rhineland (1),

Czechoslovakia (2), Poland (3), France (4),

Soviet Union (5), and growing confidence.

It's clear that after Vietnam, America had to have

some successes before it could contemplate doing

Iraq twice, which it got. And of course,

the Republicans believed that Reagan had defeated

the Soviet Union and that helped, as well.

This is quite normal in aggressive warfare -

that people don't start off as world conquerors, as it were,

they start up gradually, and if that is successful,

they keep on trying until it's not.

I I'd like to turn the floor over to Laurie Hart.

I regret having to do this, but in the

middle of Dan's comments, the electricity went out

where I live and so it's not so stable. One could

be paranoid and wonder who's behind that momentary

shut off. Because of that, I think

it would be better if Laurie handled the Q&A.

We have a wonderful array

of questions actually,

so I'd like to get started on them.

There are questions on the timing of this,

refugee concerns, reaction within Russia, the role

of the media, the role of the Orthodox Church,

nuclear concerns, the role of China, so as you can see

we're not going to have time for all of these.

However, they're all really excellent.

So I actually want to start with one on the Donbas.

Here we go. This is from Sima Ghaddar:

If the speakers could please speak

more to the history of the separatist

groups in the Donbas region and their

historical as well as current relations to

the Ukraine and the Russian state, and how

does that link to Putin's justification

narratives and reactions to the war.

I don't know which of you would like to start

on this question about the Donbas. Maybe Jared?

Sure, I can just give a little bit of context.

The Donbas is important.

To understand its industrial capacity,

this is a place that had been the Rust Belt

or the Pittsburgh of the Soviet Union.

It had become an integral part of Soviet

Ukraine after 1922. Also, given its proximity

to the Russian borders, there was a lot of

flow of people, who identify ethnically

or nationally as Russians, into this region during

the Russian Imperial Empire. Then, of course,

during the Soviet period, as well.

I'm just going to use very broad terms here.

One of the most important things to

keep in mind, and I always talk about this with

students when understanding the complexities of

Ukraine today, it's not to be sort

of tripped up by the language. So there are Russian

speakers throughout the country.

Obviously, the use of language has actually

changed as as a result of some of these

conflicts, in particular since 2014 where

we're seeing more and more Ukrainian

speakers. But to put it plainly, you had

a multilingual country in which in the capital

of the country, the majority of people,

at least until 2014, has spoken Russian.

So it's important to keep in mind that even though

there are Russian speakers in the central part of

the country, and especially in the Donbas region,

that many of these Russian speakers still

identified as Ukrainian citizens. The majority

of people who identified ethnically

as Russians were both in this region

and in the Crimea, but also just because the

people identified ethnically as Russian or spoke

Russian, it did not mean that these people sort

of simultaneously wanted to not be a part of

modern Ukraine, or wanted to join with

Russia. There was always a minority of people

who either wanted to separate or break away

from modern Ukraine. And we first saw this,

I keep bringing up the Orange Revolution,

but the threats of breaking

the Donbas away from Ukraine were actually made

in the wake of the Orange Revolution, in which

the sort of Russian-backed candidate for

president Yanukovych lost. This was one of the

threats that were leveled at the time.

And of course this came true after 2014,

but simplifying, or trying to

understand this region as simply pro-Russian,

or simply just a region of separatists,

is highly problematic. It's much more

complicated than that. Many people

in this region, in terms of polling,

have more positive attitudes towards Russians,

and they have families across the border historically.

There's a lot of connection, but again

that does not mean that the majority of

people in this region wanted to break away.

And so we saw the usage of this region, and some of these

separatist tensions, and some of this anger in

response to the Euromaidan. This was

stoked and this was played upon by the Russian

government as a response, as an immediate response,

to the Euromaidan, to fund and support separatist

elements in these communities. And this is what

really helped ignite this war in the Donbas.

So those are just some general overview

comments, but I can turn it over to anyone else.

Just to add a word or two about the last few

years, or what happened after the invasion

of Crimea - these separatist movements emerged

and there was probably something spontaneous

and authentic. There had been demand for

greater autonomy, for schooling in Russian

language, for Russian being an official language

in those regions. But very quickly

people from the Russian security services and

a lot of volunteers, or so-called volunteers,

from Russia, ultra nationalists came over

offering the support of the security services

and really turned it into a military fight

against Ukrainian troops, which came in to try and

reestablish order and overthrow these self-declared,

autonomous republics, or independent republics.

And since then it's basically been a kind of

frozen conflict. And as often happens

in stateless, in a frozen conflict, life has

been pretty miserable within those republics.

The political situation has been a kind of

authoritarian rule by thugs, by the strongest

military commanders of these so-called

republics. And what we know suggests that

they have been, as I said,

pretty authoritarian in how they

dealt with the territory that they controlled.

Thanks! Let's move on to this question

about timing. Why did Putin wait until now to

invade Ukraine? Why didn't he

do it when Trump was president?

I can say something. It's a good

question and I don't really know.

There are some reasons why we might think now

was an attractive time to do it. He clearly

sees the West as weak, or saw the West

as weak, divided, and unlikely to respond.

It's hard to answer that, in part

because we don't know exactly when

the planning started. Clearly, there

was some planning for at least a year.

He might have been waiting to see how much he

could get out of a Trump administration, to see

where that would end, and perhaps after Trump lost

and Biden came in as president, he then started

planning for this kind of invasion. Now,

I would think that when Putin does these things,

he doesn't make a final decision. He decides on

the mobilization and he entertains different

scenarios for how it would go, and he may

have strongly believed that it would end

before an invasion, that there would be concessions on

the Western side, and on the Ukrainian side,

and that it was aimed as blackmail more than actual

war. But if it started at least a year ago,

that suggests that perhaps he was waiting for

the end of the Trump presidency, but we don't

really know. It's also in part, you know, when

he perceives the army has been prepared

for something like this. And also, I think there's

been a growing frustration that he's felt with the

failure of the Minsk Agreement

negotiations, to lead to a kind of settlement

that he might have preferred, in which there would be

autonomy in the Donbas republics and basically

they would be controlled covertly by Russia. And he

would be able to use that to influence Ukrainian policy.

When it became clear that even though

Zelensky came to power with a

program of negotiating with Russia, when it became

clear that that wasn't going to work out, because

Zelensky was not going to make major concessions, that could

have been when he decided to move to force instead.

People have also pointed out, obviously,

the state of European politics, as well.

Macron coming up for election,

the new situation in Germany, so

people have pointed out, maybe at

least in the short term, that this

could be a point of reference, as well.

Brexit, too.

Let me turn then to some questions about the

role of the media in Russia

from Christopher Karadjov.

I would like you to address

the role of the media in Russia as a case study

of mass propaganda in an era when we thought mass

propaganda is not possible. But it's evident in

the wide support for the war in Russia, at least

initially, and also in a completely different set

of narratives that Russians get to see, unlike us

in the West. I would combine that question with

some of the other questions, which have

noted actually widespread support for the

war at the grassroots level in Russia.

And that's been a debate on the chat at

the moment. Any reactions to that?

I guess I should say something about that.

First, it's very early and it's very difficult

to know just what people know. This gets to the

first part of the question.

The state media has been quite effective, I think,

in the early days of pretending that this is really

an operation that aimed to prevent a genocide, or

at least serious harassment, of Russian speakers in

the East of Ukraine. And Russians have been set

up by a great deal of reporting by these state

media channels over the last months to

kind of believe that. They're primed to accept

that narrative. So first of all, there's that and

then secondly, it's natural in any country

for most of the relatively uninformed members of

the public, when told that your country's at war,

to rally behind your leaders. That's almost

always the first reaction for a very, very large

part of society. The real question for me is how

long that lasts, whether that remains

basically a strong belief among much of

the population, or whether that changes

as they start to find out about casualties, they

start to find out about just how badly they've

been lied to, that their sons are actually

fighting in Kyiv, not in the Eastern Ukraine,

that the military operation was poorly

planned, that they're running out of gas and food,

that they're being captured, and they're

being killed. So when all that starts to come

back to people throughout Russia and they realize

they've just been lied to in such a blatant way,

I can imagine that leading to, at least for some,

a kind of a paradigm shift, a real, new sense of

doubt about their government and their media.

But we don't know that yet and I'd say there is

this other part of Russian society, the more highly

educated part on the whole, that has used all the

resources that have been available in terms of

the internet, in terms of independent media like

TV Dozhd, many publications to inform themselves

about what's going on, and also the Western

media. So I think people who want to know what's

been going on in Russia were able to get that information.

I think if you took a poll of them,

there would be very little support for

the war, so the question is: Does that

segment of society start to influence the other,

less informed, less interested in

external affairs part of the population,

and lead to a growing sense that the war is wrong?

And I think the less informed part of the

population is particularly sensitive to economic

variables. If the economy really deteriorates

for them, and it's mostly not well-off people,

then whether or not they like the idea of

defending Russians abroad, their

immediate problem will be losing jobs or

just seeing prices jump by 20 percent. So I think it's

too early to tell just how this is going to affect

public opinion, but we shouldn't be so surprised

that there's this kind of knee-jerk reaction

in much of society to support their leaders

and the narrative that they're being given.

If I can just make two quick points:

Firstly, we should remember that wars are

almost always made by a tiny group of people.

In the United States for example, it's the

executive power which essentially pushes

the way and they may consult one or two

leading members of Foreign Relations Committees.

But by and large, Congress is there to ratify a

decision already taken. And that's true whether

it's a democracy or a dictatorship.

Democracy just doesn't extend a foreign policy

because the vast majority of the people have no

interest in it. Interest in either of the two,

material interest or concentration on the issue.

Now, the second point is that the rally around

the flag lasts longer when you're defending

than when you're regressing, but how long that is,

we don't know. How long did it take

America to turn against the war in Iraq? Several

years. If the Russians took that long,

it would be a fairly dire situation. But it

probably will happen if we're right that

they can't actually subdue Ukrainian

nationalist movement, and that at some point

there would be a movement of opinion and of elites

in Russia against the war and against Putin.

On that we do have evidence about how long it took

for people to turn against Putin on the second

Chechen war. So we have level of support for

Putin's military response to the Chechen threat

and it was extremely high, 80 or 85 percent,

when he started the war, but it took about a year

for it to get down to about 30 percent.

It took time, but it was relatively fast.

We're technically out of time, but with

your permission I'll extend it just for

a minute or two to ask a couple of completing

questions. One has to do with the role of China

in the situation. How are you

reading that at this point?

And the other is on the Orthodox Church. So I

wonder if you have some thoughts that you might

want to offer about the role of those two

factors in the current conflict. Well, on China.

China abstained in the Security Council vote

and it's clearly torn in two different directions.

One is that its revisionism is very

similar to Russian revisionism, and if

it should ever go into Taiwan for example,

it's looking very closely at what the

backlash to the Russian invasion is. And it's

wary of it. And also it has a high degree of

interdependence to the Western economy,

and it doesn't really want to get into

support for Russia, which is obvious and which

might incur sanctions. So they're wavering.

As is India,

because their defense is

supplied by Russia.

I mean that the weaponry and the

equipment is mainly supplied by Russia.

The Taiwan thing is kind

of fascinating because, in a sense,

yes, exactly as Professor Mann said, it's a

parallel that Chinese can't help seeing,

but in some ways, you can look at it from a

different angle, which is that China considers

Taiwan already to be part of China, whereas China

recognizes that Ukraine was a sovereign state.

China is enormously strongly committed

to state sovereignty, in theory at least,

so that would kind of push it towards not standing

with Russia. And China's commitment to

state sovereignty is also kind of part of why

it argues that nobody should interfere with it

on the Taiwan issue, because Taiwan is part of, in its view,

China and that's interfering its sovereign affairs.

So it's kind of complicated. And I'm

watching with great interest, but I think,

as professor Mann also said, they're nervous about

getting caught up in the sanctions and probably

they are pretty impressed by just how broad

the global reaction against Russia has become.

Any thoughts on the role of the Orthodox

Church before I ask a concluding question?

I don't know much about this, but I think I saw

one report that the Head of the Russian

Orthodox Church was supporting the operation.

Professor McBride, does that sound right to you?

That's what I saw, too.

That's a really great question.

And also given some of the church

politics with Kyiv and Moscow,

that's a wonderful question. In the flood of

information in the last three or four days,

I've not seen much about that yet but.

Yeah, I think that's probably for another session.

Also we have many questions, of course, about the

status of researchers abroad, and other refractions

of various kinds of embargoes, and so again

I think probably will have to defer most

of those questions, partly because policy,

including at UCLA, is uncertain at this point.

And then there are questions

about refugees. And again, I think

that will probably entail many more sessions

to discuss the ramifications of those issues.

So just as a concluding question, let me ask you about

de-escalation. What are the moves towards de-escalation?

What do you see for that?

And this is perhaps

in professor Mann's venue as well,

about what kinds of resolutions to conflicts like

this might be possible? But in general, what are

the moves towards de-escalation at this point?

Well, I don't think there are any

moves towards de-escalation yet.

You might say that Ukrainians, at this point,

might well want to negotiate,

but they're still being pretty stubborn.

I think that real negotiations would have

to wait until the Russians were aware of

having received a very bloody note and where

they want to extricate themselves from it.

Yeah, I think there's a problem

in that deals that Putin might

commit himself to, will not be worth very

much because he's broken all the previous

treaties and deals. So even if the

Ukrainians wanted to negotiate something,

well, first of all, Putin is not ready yet to even

consider talking about anything less than his full

set of demands, which include the

denazification of Ukraine, and

all these restrictions on NATO. But even

if he were, the problem would be in,

if we're talking about a longer-term deal,

just that he doesn't have any credibility

and so how would it be enforced?

But of course, I think the UN has called for,

in general terms, for the fighting to stop

and it's right, but it's also not

likely to be very effective to

repeatedly call for that until...

The problem is that Russia

has invaded a sovereign state.

To call for an armistice is one thing,

to call for a deal in which Russia retains

territory, or succeeds in overthrowing

the government of Ukraine, I think it's

not a recipe for any kind of peace.

Actually, Laurie, could I ask one quick question

which has to do with - what

do you make of this nuclear threat?

Okay, I know a little about that.

First of all, any nuclear threat, we should

take very seriously. And given that we don't really

understand and are very concerned by Putin's

willingness to enter into such a

gamble that seems absurd to us, that seems

extremely risky to us, we have to worry.

The Russian nuclear alert system has four steps.

It goes from at the bottom, I guess

conventional, which is the normal situation,

to then elevated. Sorry, constant, then to

elevated, then to danger, and then to full alert.

As I understand it, Putin has raised the alert

from constant to elevated. Now, what that means

as I have learned in the last few days,

is not that they're sending targeting data,

or that they're actually preparing any launches,

but they have removed a block, which in normal

circumstances prevents the president from even

communicating in order to fire the nuclear missiles.

So in itself it's a relatively small step,

and you have to go up two more steps to

get to the point when we're actually on

the verge of a potential launch. So in that

sense, perhaps it's a little bit reassuring, but

we come back to that. My first point, which is

yes, we have to be worried because we really

don't understand Putin's frame of mind,

and if he feels backed into a corner, if he feels that

his regime or Russia is in serious danger,

then there's no way to be sure

how he'll react to that.

Thank you!

Final comments from Jared?

From the other panelists? I would echo,

obviously, the somewhat depressive evaluation

of de-escalation from the other commenters already.

It's difficult to see and we've all

kind of highlighted today that sort of,

Putin is in a position to double down on what

was a colossal miscalculation, a mistake.

That means we're probably not near

an end. And then even in an

emotive kind of reaction that we have as experts,

or even just people connected to this region,

but to see this resistance from the Ukrainian people,

which is likely to continue, that could

also help fuel, I think, the extension of this

conflict even further. And perhaps,

in the long run, cause more suffering.

It's not to take a stance that, but it's

an observation and I think it's

difficult. And then I think we're

seeing this from other people online, as well,

and other commenters, but yeah, this kind of

almost Hail Mary hope that perhaps destabilization

in Russia, or perhaps popular protest, or perhaps

that the de-escalation maybe can come from

there, that if there's enough domestic pressure

that that will help shake things up, or kind of

show a way out, but I think, as we're probably

all aware, that also could lead down some dangerous

roads, even for the Russians who opposed

this war, so a lot of scary potentials,

but I think we're all just hoping and praying that

we won't see any of those come to play and this

will end soon. Well, maybe the only silver lining,

it's a kind of tiny bit, is that the rest

of the world has realized that war is the

very worst thing that human beings do to each

other. And so perhaps it could be some kind of

help towards the peacemakers of this world.

On the other hand, I have no great faith in human

rationality. Why there are so many wars?

Well, on that wise and truthful comment,

if not intimately encouraging, I want to thank our

moderator, professor Kligman, and professor

McBride, Treisman, and professor Mann,

for your contributions today. I apologize to

the audience. So many fabulous questions we were

not able to answer, but I opened them up so you

could see one another's questions. I really

appreciate your participation. There will be

many more events. We will be advertising them

on the website. Please consult that. Next week,

next Tuesday, March 8 at 3pm, there will be

a kind of grassroots presentation "Dispatches

from the Ukraine War: Interviews and Discussion,"

with Nariman Ustaiev, currently at

Stanford University as a visiting fellow,

and Ulia Gosart at UCLA, so join us for that if you can,

and keep your eyes out for further presentations.

And thank you again everyone for your

contributions today. Thanks so much!

Duration: 01:26:25