2014 Archives

Ukrainians in North Texas keep a watchful eye on distant conflict


The following is from the March 24, 2014, edition of The Dallas Morning News. Expertise for this story was provided by Joshua Rovner, who is SMU's John Goodwin Tower Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security, an associate professor of Political Science and director of Studies at the Tower Center for Political Studies.

March 24, 2014

Leo Korenvayn came here to suffer, in a way perhaps only a Russian at heart can appreciate. Rivulets of sweat collect on his chin, and drip, drip like a leaky faucet. He is glistening, bare-chested, breathing shallow, holding out against the 200-degree heat, a temperature used to smoke brisket.

In Russian, there is a word to describe the experience — zakalivaniye. It means “to harden.”

Korenvayn, a native Ukrainian with roots in Russia, says it is a concept U.S. policymakers should consider as they try to pressure Vladimir Putin to withdraw his military from Crimea in the eastern Ukraine.

Mild discomfort will not dislodge him. To expel Russia, he says, the West must be willing to turn up the heat. . .

Joshua Rovner, a national security expert at Southern Methodist University, said one of the biggest wildcards in the crisis is Putin, the Russian leader who enjoys getting his picture taken bare-chested, astride a horse in the wilderness.

“Putin clearly has tried to send a signal of his own toughness,” said Rovner. “He’s put that on himself to try to restore Russian might and prestige. The danger on our part is our reaction to Putin — believing that he is the ruthless, calculating, cold strategist while we are these poor, helpless, reactive and soft rivals.”

That, he said, is a mistake.

Rovner said the U.S. has stumbled in the Ukraine — mainly by supporting a movement that toppled a government allied with Russia, and then being surprised when Russia responded in a way we didn’t like.

Read the full story.

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