Experts: Russia's invasion of Ukraine

News

Published: 11May2022

In a speech delivered from Russia's famous Red Square, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked Victory Day and blamed Western policies for Moscow's military action in Ukraine. While Western analysts in recent weeks had widely expected Putin to use the holiday to trumpet some kind of victory in Ukraine or announce an escalation, he did neither. Instead, he sought to justify the war again as a necessary response to what he portrayed as a hostile Ukraine. (CBC News)

Here are some experts from McGill University who can provide comment on this issue:

Featured expert - Foreign policy 

"The current events in Ukraine pose significant challenges for the entire United Nations system, and particularly the UN Security Council, as well as the legal frameworks that exist to regulate armed conflict and facilitate humanitarian assistance. Russia's invasion is also challenging the very essence of diplomacy, which rests on the assumption that states can be encouraged to moderate or change their behaviour. In the case of Russia currently, events both foreign and domestic are being driven by the ideas and beliefs of a single individual, whose moves have been difficult to predict. Western countries, which failed to dissuade Putin from invading his neighbor, must now rest their hopes on two things: first, the capacity of punishing sanctions to test the loyalty of Putin's supporters and make his financing of the war more and more difficult; and second, the ability of a small set of countries who have not condemned his invasion outright — such as China — to have some influence over the Russian leader's behaviour. In the meantime, Western states must do all they can to support Ukraine's fight without crossing a line that would lead to dangerous escalation of the conflict. It's a delicate balancing act that will require the very best from our political leaders and diplomats."

Jennifer Welsh, Full Professor, Department of Political Science and Max Bell School of Public Policy 

Disinformation | Economic sanctions | Foreign policyInvestments and supply chains | Politics and law in Eastern Europe

Disinformation

Aaron Erlich, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

“Ukrainians have shown remarkable resilience in the face of pro-Kremlin disinformation.”

Aaron Erlich is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science. His research interests include political participation in new democracies, election fraud and political corruption, democratization, and the Former Soviet Union.

aaron.erlich [at] mcgill.ca (English)

@aserlich

Economic sanctions

Kristy Ironside, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies

Russia, and before it the Soviet Union, has a long history of being economically isolated. After the collapse of communism in 1991, Russia took massive steps towards global economic integration, all of which has been upended by its war on Ukraine. Russia's economy is now affected by sanctions that impact the value of the ruble and are causing ordinary citizens' living standards to drastically decline.”

Kristy Ironside is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies. She is an expert on modern Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular interest in the political, economic, and social history of Russia and the USSR’s twentieth century.

kristy.ironside [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

@kristy_ironside

Juliet Johnson, Full Professor, Department of Political Science

President Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has turned his worst nightmares into reality – in one stroke he has unified Europe and North America in vociferous support for Ukraine and brought massive economic sanctions upon Russia that will devastate the domestic economy. This unexpected unity abroad, the intense and public resistance of Ukrainians to the invasion and increasing dissent even within Russian elite circles presents an unprecedented challenge to Putin’s power, legitimacy, and legacy.”

Juliet Johnson is Full Professor in the Department of Political Science. Her research interests include post-communist economic policies and memory politics. She is also the Vice-President/President-Elect of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

juliet.johnson [at] mcgill.ca (English)

@excubs

Katrin Tinn, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Russia is unlikely to bypass the sanctions imposed by the international community via the use of cryptocurrencies. At this stage, cryptocurrencies are not scalable nor liquid enough to be used as a replacement for mainstream form of payments. Furthermore, Western companies and crypto-asset exchanges may impose further limitations. It is nevertheless a good time to speed up the thinking about new forms of digital payments, i.e. how to best ensure compliance with anti-money-laundering and anti-crime financing regulations, while still offering privacy to individual users.”

Katrin Tinn is an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Desautels Faculty of Management. Her expertise includes applied theory in financial economics and information economics.

katrin.tinn [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Foreign policy

Daniel Béland, James McGill Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Nearly four percent of the Canadian population is of Ukrainian descent, making it the NATO country with the largest Ukrainian diaspora. Partly because of this, there is very strong domestic political pressure on the Trudeau government to implement bold sanctions against Putin’s Russia while seeking to convince our allies to do the same thing.”

Daniel Béland is the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and a James McGill Professor in the Department of Political Science. He specializes in the fields of Canadian and comparative politics, as well as the study of public policy, including social policy.

daniel.beland [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

@danielbeland

Jason Opal, Associate Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies

"Putin's invasion of Ukraine continues to put the Trumpist elements of the Republican Party –still dominant and definitely popular rank-and-file GOP voters– on the defensive. Russian brutality, as evidenced by mass graves near Kyiv and Mariupol, has made their coziness with Putin uncomfortable; Russian incompetence, notably in logistical and intelligence failures that doomed the initial push to conquer all of Ukraine, have made them look ridiculous. That said, the Biden administration is characteristically unable to capitalize on the President's handling of the crisis, and domestic issues such as inflation and the endless (and vicious) culture wars are dragging his numbers down. As such, the Republicans still have a good chance to make major gains in the November mid-term elections."

Jason Opal is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies, where he teaches about the U.S. Constitution and the origins and spread of slavery in early America. His work tries to integrate social, cultural, and intellectual history and to shed light on such broad topics as nationalism, capitalism, democracy, and U.S.-Canada foreign relations.

jason.opal [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Jennifer Welsh, Full Professor, Department of Political Science and Max Bell School of Public Policy and Director, Centre for International Peace and Security Studies

"The current events in Ukraine pose significant challenges for the entire United Nations system, and particularly the UN Security Council, as well as the legal frameworks that exist to regulate armed conflict and facilitate humanitarian assistance. Russia's invasion is also challenging the very essence of diplomacy, which rests on the assumption that states can be encouraged to moderate or change their behaviour. In the case of Russia currently, events both foreign and domestic are being driven by the ideas and beliefs of a single individual, whose moves have been difficult to predict. Western countries, which failed to dissuade Putin from invading his neighbor, must now rest their hopes on two things: first, the capacity of punishing sanctions to test the loyalty of Putin's supporters and make his financing of the war more and more difficult; and second, the ability of a small set of countries who have not condemned his invasion outright — such as China — to have some influence over the Russian leader's behaviour. In the meantime, Western states must do all they can to support Ukraine's fight without crossing a line that would lead to dangerous escalation of the conflict. It's a delicate balancing act that will require the very best from our political leaders and diplomats."

Jennifer Welsh is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Political Science and the Max Bell School of Public Policy, where she also serves as Director of Centre for International Peace and Security Studies. She is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security, specializing in the ethics and law of armed conflict, humanitarian intervention and the ‘responsibility to protect’.

jennifer.welsh [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Investments and supply chains

John Gradek, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies 

“The sensitivity of our global supply chains to disruption continues to impact all of society. Whether it’s an earthquake in Japan or a rail stoppage in Canada, Canadians are much more aware and concerned about the health of supply chains and the resulting availability and price of product. With inflation running at a 30-year high, all eyes are on measures being undertaken by multiple supply chains to monitor and rework already fragile networks. Increasingly, we see terms such a resiliency, robustness and visibility being used by industry to characterize their efforts to stabilize supply chain performance, but questions remain. Is the era of globalization and long, thin supply chains over? Can shorter, local supply chains be built with comparable cost structures? Are consumers ready to see further price increases to reflect these local supply chains? How can supply chains be reworked to reflect more sustainable transportation and procurement practices? The pressure is stabilize and enhance supply chain performance is intense.” 

John Gradek is a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies, where he coordinates the Supply Chain and Operations Management and Integrated Aviation Management programs. He has held senior roles at Air Canada in operations, marketing and planning and has worked in the development and the delivery of commercial airline management programs for the International Aviation Management Training Institute. He is currently an adjudicator with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.  

john.gradek [at] mcgill.ca (English, French) 

Sébastien Betermier, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

The war in Ukraine is causing global inflation of commodities, increasing market volatility and co-movement, and is raising the prospects of major shifts in energy policy and geopolitical risk. Together, these force investors to fundamentally re-think the magnitude and the types of risks in their portfolios for the long-term future.”

Sébastien Betermier is an Associate Professor of Finance at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research seeks to understand the relationships between risk and return and how these drive investors in their investment decisions and contribute to the development of sustainable pension systems.

sebastien.betermier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

Juan Camilo Serpa, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

In the case of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in regions where the threat of war is alive, but the intensity is moderate to low, we may not see an immediate major impact. Inventory levels will remain relatively stable in these regions and — as long as they are not directly attacked — will continue to honor their production commitments even if the conflict extends for years. However, we will see the adoption of a ‘lean’ inventory strategy, producing only enough to sell, not holding any overstock to respond to price hikes or provide emergency shipments. On the other hand, we can expect that Ukrainian suppliers will continue to be reliable and find their way to supply as usual. The difference is that international firms will expect to receive smaller, more frequent shipments from abroad, as opposed to large infrequent shipments and will no longer be able to demand last-minute emergency supplies, or additional goods (on top of what was contractually agreed).”

Juan Camilo Serpa is an Associate Professor of Operations Management in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Over the last decade, he has studied the effect of war on business operations and has tracked over 38,000 production facilities in war-torn regions to understand how their inventory strategies change as violence intensifies.

juan.serpa [at] mcgill.ca (English, Spanish)

Politics and law in Eastern Europe

Lyudmila Parts, Associate Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Right now, the focus is on helping the Ukrainian people. However, when the time comes to analyze, scholars in humanities will talk about the stories of resistance and patriotism that not only strengthen the foundation of the Ukrainian national identity but reinvigorate the discourse of democracy throughout the world. At a time when it has become impossible to use the word ‘truth’ without quotation marks, the stories of Ukrainian resistance — spontaneous, unrehearsed, and authentic — restore our faith in humanity.”

Lyudmila Parts is an Associate Professor of Russian and Slavic studies in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Her research interests include post-Soviet culture, genre theory, and cultural representations of nationalism.

lyudmila.parts [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Maria Popova, Associate Professor and Jean Monnet Chair, Department of Political Science

Russia has refocused its aggression on Ukraine and is now trying to conquer Eastern and Southern Ukraine and add these territories to previously occupied Crimea, Luhansk, and Donetsk. Ukraine is receiving military aid from NATO and trying to repel the invasion. NATO allies pursue two interlinked goals: help Ukraine win this war, while preventing nuclear escalation.”

Maria Popova is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, where she holds the Jean Monnet Chair. She specializes in Ukrainian and Russian domestic politics, with a focus on democracy, rule of law, corruption, anticorruption policies, and legal repression of dissent.

maria.popova [at] mcgill.ca (English)

@popovaprof

Contact Information

Contact: 
Frédérique Mazerolle
Organization: 
Media Relations, McGill University
Email: 
frederique.mazerolle [at] mcgill.ca
Office Phone: 
(514) 398-6693
Mobile Phone: 
(514) 617-8615

Secondary Contact Information

Contact: 
Claire Loewen
Organization: 
Media Relations, McGill University
Secondary Email: 
claire.loewen [at] mcgill.ca
Mobile Phone: 
(438) 837-3735
Back to top