Cause and effect: UR expert insights on Ukraine crisis and world reaction

March 2, 2022


As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, there will be long-lasting political, economic, and sociological consequences felt globally, according to University of Richmond faculty with expertise in these areas. UR experts provided their thoughts on what preceded the ongoing conflict, how it’s unfolding, and the ripple effects around the world.

Early origins

Sociology professor Jeff Hass studies social change, economic and political sociology, and power and culture in Russia. He authored the book ​​Politics and Practices of War: The Story of Civilian Survival and Suffering in the Blockade of Leningrad, 1941-1944. Hass is closely following the events in Europe. 

“Putin was raised in a difficult part of post-war Leningrad,” Hass said. “This might have conditioned him early in life to respect power, and to use it opportunistically. So, he respects China’s leader Xi [Jinping], and he bullies Ukraine. He is less concerned with NATO than the European Union because the latter promotes democracy and markets, which Putin does not like. He does not want such a country on his borders. No surprise he has really tried to keep Ukraine out of both, especially the EU.”

The run up to war

Political science professor Stephen Long is an expert on international relations and foreign policy with specific emphasis on international rivalries, the causes of war, and the impact of victory and defeat. 

As countries around the world deployed sanctions against Russia, Long said the buildup of Russian forces near Ukraine's borders in some ways bolstered the West’s ability to enact the measures. 

“Russia’s invasion is perhaps the most fully anticipated, fully documented military campaign of the new century,” Long said. “The American strategy of ‘prebunking’ Russian claims by releasing classified intelligence has been novel, and while it did not prevent the invasion, I think it helped solidify global support for tough sanctions quickly.”

Effects around the world

Finance professor Tom Arnold said before the conflict in Ukraine there was already concern about inflation from supply chain and labor market issues. The markets were assessing the effects of central banks increasing interest rates to reduce inflation, he said, which is now likely to increase.

“The situation in Ukraine threatens political stability and energy stability in Europe,” Arnold said. “Russia is a major oil and natural gas supplier to Europe and sanctions being implemented due to Russia’s actions will stop the flow of energy to Europe. Consequently, the energy must be supplied from elsewhere which will deplete current supplies from energy producers other than Russia. This means transportation costs for goods globally will increase and will likely create more inflation. Similar issues will also occur in the wheat and corn markets, which are exports from the Ukraine-Russia region.”

Long agrees the reliance on inexpensive Russian natural gas is a problem for European NATO members. "Liquid natural gas is insufficient to replace pipeline gas, and too much is being made of Germany’s cancellation of Nord Stream 2, which was not even operating yet.” 

Arnold is watching for the possibility of a new nuclear agreement with Iran that could lift current oil sanctions and could lead to Iran becoming a major oil supplier in Russia’s absence. 

“Unfortunately, even if the situation resolves quickly, the fact that Russia has demonstrated a willingness to use aggression instead of diplomacy, signals a potentially more volatile Europe going forward,” Arnold said, “and the financial markets will respond in kind.”