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May 4, 2014

SUNY Plattsburgh faculty discusses Ukraine crisis

PLATTSBURGH — Four SUNY Plattsburgh faculty panelists at a Model United Nations forum weren’t surprised at Russia’s successful annexation of Crimea. 

Forrest Studebaker, adjunct lecturer in political science; Connie Shemo, associate professor of history; Daniel Lake, associate professor of political science; and Dhimitri Qirjo, assistant professor of economics and finance; all gave their opinions on the Ukraine crisis at a recent forum. 

Lake said the annexation was an easy move for Russia as it was unlikely to face opposition. 

“They could also make a claim to ownership,” he added. 

Though taking Crimea wasn’t a challenge, Lake said Russia would probably avoid expansion into other parts of Ukraine lest they face a large, unhappy Ukrainian population. 

“I don’t see an expansion being very likely because I don’t think Russia wants to take over that sort of opposition,” he said. 

‘UNDER THEIR THUMB’

While the panelists thought that Russia isn’t considering similar moves in other countries, Lake said he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin would continue to meddle in the Ukraine, “to basically keep Ukraine corrupt and disorganized to keep them under their thumb.”

If Russia destabilizes the Ukraine, Lake explained, others won’t be able to have as much influence over the country.

“I expect to see continued disorder in the Ukraine unless they manage to find a leader who’s not corrupt,” he said. 

Studebaker pointed out that Putin is benefiting domestically from making the move. 

From an economic standpoint, Qirjo said that a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help Ukraine build its economy would be a waste. 

“Even if the IMF bails Ukraine ... Ukraine is 144th out of 177 in terms of corruption,” Qirjo said. “This is like throwing money in the ocean.” 

Adam Saccardi, SUNY Plattsburgh Model UN Vice President and forum moderator, asked the panelists about Russia’s decision in relation to the United States.

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