Ukraine, Russia Tensions and Crimea

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Expert:             Dr. Rudra Sil  

                         Professor of Political Science

                         Co-director of the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business 

                         University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Sil is the author or editor of six books, including World Order After Leninism and Managing ‘Modernity’: Work, Community and Authority in Late-Industrializing Japan and Russia. He has written articles on various aspects of post-communist politics and political economy. At Penn, he teaches courses on Russian politics and Third World politics, as well as seminars on comparative politics and on the role of Brazil, Russia, India and China in globalization and development. He has been to Russia numerous times, most recently on the eve of the parliamentary elections of 2011.

Quote:  "Although we are good at lecturing other countries on respecting international law, which is a noble pursuit in most circumstances, we are very bad in candidly acknowledging our limitations when dealing with messy crises that break out in faraway lands. In relation to Ukraine and Crimea, whatever one’s view of Vladimir Putin, there are a lot of things that the American public ought to be honestly told beyond the inflammatory stories of how a big, bad ex-KGB spy is resurrecting the Soviet Union and instigating a new cold -- or hot -- war in Europe.

“We need a more sober and nuanced analysis of events that led up to the current crisis -- the views and actions of different opposition groups on the Maidan, the behavior of a rump parliament in repealing local language laws rather than tackling a serious economic crisis and the ‘blowback’ from our own efforts to set up leaders in Ukraine who would be more responsive to our agenda.”

Expert:             Dr. Julia Gray 

                         Assistant Professor of Political Science 

                         University of Pennsylvania 

Dr. Gray is the former managing editor of Transitions Online, a magazine that covers news in the post-communist countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union. She specializes in international relations with a focus on the political effects of international economic agreements.

Quote:  "It's ironic that international agreements are the source of Ukraine's current unrest -- especially since neither an association agreement with the EU nor a customs union with Russia will have a huge impact on the Ukrainian economy. Domestic discontent though is arising from the way that Ukraine is perceived in the international community and the direction that the country is headed."

Media contact: Jacquie Posey, 215-898-6460 or