SAN ANTONIO – The Russian invasion is slowly taking over Ukraine, with the U.N. reporting at least 549 civilian deaths and 41 children included in that number.
“They changed their approach to being much more willing to take risk on civilian lives and being much more brutal for lack of a better word in their approach,” Matthias Hofferberth, associate professor of political science at UTSA, said.
Hofferberth has been following the conflict closely, even prior to Russia’s invasion.
“We have to live with this war for quite some time,” Hofferberth said.
When analyzing the motivation behind the invasion, he speculates there are several including geopolitical and territorial gains but also global motivations.
“There would still be this sort of intrinsic security motivation to not have a country bordering Russia, which becomes a member of NATO,” Hofferberth said.
When looking at those bordering countries like Poland, Estonia, and Latvia, there is fear that if Russia takes Ukraine, they’ll keep marching on.
Hofferberth says each country’s NATO status plays a role.
“I think it’s a bit of an unlikely scenario because the big difference is Ukraine was an associated member and not a full member,” he explained.
Meanwhile, people from Ukraine like Olena Khrystyuk and Olenka Bravo say they believe Putin’s war will extend beyond Ukraine if NATO doesn’t step in.
“We don’t need to sacrifice Ukrainians toward peaceful resolution because even if the world will sacrifice Ukraine, it’s not going to be a peaceful resolution. Putin will go farther,” Bravo said.
Both are heartbroken, watching the place they love under fire knowing over two million Ukrainians have left without guarantee they’ll have a country, let alone a home to go back to.
“They need help so they can stay in their country and live on their land and have their freedom and democracy and rights -- the right to self-determination,” Khrystyuk said.
Khrystyuk said Russians living outside of the country need to tell their family and friends still there the truth of what is happening rather than the propaganda they’re hearing now.
“They need to call their brothers, sisters, mothers, their family, their friends in Russia and say, ‘this is not a special ops,’” Khrystyuk said. “This is war. It’s worse than war. It’s an execution of Ukrainians -- Ukrainians who have done nothing wrong.”
Khrystyuk and Bravo both asked President Biden to step in, underlying the need for outside influence to end the war.
Today, @POTUS spoke with President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Russia’s war against Ukraine. They reviewed recent diplomatic engagements and underscored their commitment to hold Russia accountable for its actions and support the government and people of Ukraine.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 14, 2022
Hofferberth says international negotiations will play a key role, more specifically China.
He explained many have speculated China is for the invasion but they have a lot to lose.
“The Chinese main narrative has been one of international sovereign. It’s like no state can be challenged by other states about their internal affairs. And that’s how they justify their own human rights policies,” Hofferberth said.
He went on to say if they allow another sovereign nation like Ukraine to have that taken away, it’ll put the Chinese into dangerous territory.
While the Chinese have been limited in their support for a peaceful resolution, Hofferberth says their support is key because of the Russian-Chinese relationship.
“To do this, it will have to be some kind of bilateral trilateral effort. But I think it can be the connection between Xi Jinping and Putin in particular and making sure that he’s negotiating seriously,” he said.
He believes de-escalation can only be achieved if China steps up, rather than staying back on the sidelines.