A report on the different perspectives presented during the university panel on the Russia-Ukraine War.
By Giampaolo Cavazzuti / Contributor || Edited by Ilenia Reale
Last March 29, the Guarini Institute together with the International Relations Society and the Slavic Student Alliance organized a panel mediated by Professor Enrico Fardella on the current Russia-Ukraine War. The panelists of the event were Professors Federigo Argentieri, Silvia Scarpa, Tetyana Kholod, and Michael Driessen. All come from varied backgrounds of study and experience, some more personal, while others academic. Throughout the event, each panelist talked about their opinion on the matter, be it with anecdotes or hard statistics. To start the event, International Affairs major Diana Soprano, one of the main leading figures of the Slavic Student Alliance, gave a speech in honor of those who have suffered or have been affected by this war, giving a compassionate start to the panelist’s speaking time.
Professor Argentieri was the first panelist to speak, who focused on discussing how personally involved he is with Ukraine, from his travels to this nation, to his befriending of several Ukrainian citizens. Having been closely related to several Ukrainians and seeing what Ukrainian society is like, he disproved several claims, such as the linguistic rivalry between Ukrainian and Russian. Furthermore, he disproved the theory of Ukrainians siding and getting aid from Nazis. By the end of his speaking time, Professor Argentieri said he believed that Ukraine could’ve been more military prepared, and finished with the words: “The future is uncertain, but the past and the present are certain.”
Following, Professor Scarpa offered her view on the Ukrainian war, giving a more academic and analytic insight on the matter. She reviewed several aspects of the international law side of the war. Most of her examples were based on the international community’s reaction. Professor Scarpa explained how the United Nations wished to avoid a World-War-III scenario, yet, according to its Charter, it was meant to intervene. Despite that, the intervention has proven to be futile. This is because Russia’s veto power within the UN Security Council didn’t lead to any resolution, as it froze the council’s scope of action. Furthermore, Professor Scarpa delved into the International Court of Justice and the different ongoing allegations, such as Russian forces using chemical weapons on Ukraine or Russia’s claim that the war began out of self-defense.
Professor Kholod was the third panelist to speak. Originally from Ukraine, she reported both analytical and statistical data on some outcomes of the war. Firstly, she shared a statistical slide presentation that revealed that the total infrastructural damage amounted to $63 billion. Later, she pointed out that over 10 million Ukrainians have become refugees and 128 children have died, at the time of the panel. Finally, after the slideshow, Professor Kholod said that, even when this war ends, “One day they [Russia] will want more,” suggesting potential future Russian ambitions.
The last panelist was Professor Driessen, who focused on the political science side of the issue. He addressed the hypothesis that the United States would be to blame for the war because the U.S. government didn’t respect the spheres of influence agreed upon with the former Soviet Union. However, Professor Driessen disproved this, saying that it was each independent country that deliberately chose democracy over communist beliefs. He also shared the idea of a democratic renaissance: as the West seems to decline, we require something to revive and rekindle the hope and prosperity that democracy once gave.
Once all the panelists presented their perspectives, the event was opened up to a Q&A session, addressing topics like the media’s role in the war, the renaissance of democracy, and different ways in which Ukraine could have prepared for a possible invasion. Finally, the event ended in good spirits with a hopeful message of community and support for Ukraine.