”Talking Foreign Policy” program considers factors in ongoing crisis in Ukraine

The next radio broadcast of Talking Foreign Policy examines the international law implications of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, including uncertainty about what the clash of American and Russian interests means for United States foreign policy.

The program, titled “Russian Roulette,” is scheduled to air Tuesday, June 10, at 9 p.m. EST on Cleveland’s National Public Radio affiliate WCPN-FM 90.3.

Talking Foreign Policy is a quarterly, hour-long radio program hosted by Case Western Reserve University School of Law Interim Dean Michael Scharf and produced by the university and WCPN.

Panelists for the “Russian Roulette” program include:

  • peace negotiator Paul R. Williams, president of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Public International Law and Policy Group;
  • ethicist Shannon French, director of Case Western Reserve’s Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence; and
  • international law and policy expert Associate Dean Milena Sterio, of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.

During a taping of the program, Scharf asked the panel to reflect on whether the United States and Russia are at the threshold of a new Cold War. The panel analyzes America’s options for responding to the Ukraine crisis, and considers likely next moves for Russia and the United States, based on what the other chooses to do.

“Things are very tense right now in Ukraine,” Williams said. “Russia used the situation in Ukraine to essentially grab the Crimea peninsula and to annex it to Russia. Ever since then, it has been destabilizing Ukraine by supporting pro-Russia forces.Western foreign policy is essentially in disarray.”

Scharf, recalling the years he shared with Williams as State Department legal advisers in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union dissolved, asked whether what has transpired lately in Ukraine indicates Russia’s again becoming a “scary bear.”

“We have failed to realize that Russia has strategic interests and a willingness to pursue those interests by any means possible,” Williams said. Another factor, Williams said, is dependency of U.S. allies in Europe to Russian-supplied oil and gas. Further, the United States relies on Russian support to transport military equipment to its troops in Afghanistan, and to supply the lift vehicles that are essential to launch American satellites and maintain the orbit of the International Space Station.

French put Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s thought process into perspective: “He’s not going to want to come up against NATO. He’s not crazy-stupid. That is not in his interests, and the stakes are too high.”

Scharf asked the panel: “Do you think we are somehow giving a green light to Putin because we are not doing enough?” All three panelists indicate a clearer response to Russia’s aggression is warranted.

The program will be simultaneously available on WCPN’s ideastream website: wcpn.org.  An archived webcast will be posted by the end of the month at the Talking Foreign Policy website: law.case.edu/TalkingForeignPolicy.