After attending Tuesday’s Clarke Forum, which was a panel discussing the war in Ukraine, I found myself to be somewhat surprised by what was and was not discussed. The panelists covered the cultural, social, and economic impacts of the conflict, and hypothesized about what the future may entail.
I was most surprised to hear one of the panelists discuss how ineffective the economic sanctions on Russia will be in the long term. He explained how, while the economic sanctions may be negatively impacting Russia, they are not going to do enough long-term damage to have any real impact on the country’s economy. While the United States may not be importing products from Russia or buying Russian oil anymore, there are enough other countries globally that are still relying on Russian products and Russian oil that the United States no longer supporting them is not going to hurt Russia as much as we would have perhaps hoped. I was surprised to hear this for a number of reasons. I would have expected that the United States no longer purchasing oil or importing Russian goods would have been much more debilitating for the economy, as it at least seemed to hurt Americans when the war first broke out and the cost of gas in the United States skyrocketed. Additionally, I was also surprised that there are still many countries importing oil and other goods from Russia. I would have thought that while some countries, maybe non-democratic countries such as China, may be able to look the other way, most other countries would have also stopped the import of Russian oil and goods in protest of freedom and democracy. Apparently, this is not the case.
I was also surprised that while discussing the social and cultural impacts of the war across the world, or the current degree of support that Russia has from its citizens, there was no mention of the use of propaganda or the violent fascist rhetoric being fed to the Russian people to encourage them to continue their support of the conflict. This is something that I personally think is incredibly important as a cultural phenomenon and I spent the entirety of that portion of the panel waiting for it to be brought up.