LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – As peace talks continue in Ukraine, many wonder what will happen next. To get a better idea of what the future could have in store, ABC4’s Northern Utah Correspondent Kade Garner sat down with a political scientist from Utah State University who investigates “bargaining obstacles to peace processes.” Not only is Dr. Anna Pechenkina a political expert, but she is an ethnic Russian and Ukranian as well.  

A harrowing video out of Kyiv, Ukraine this week shows a residential building burning as Russian attacks on the country continues. Many people wonder how this will all come to an end.   

“Sometimes people describe this crisis as identity-based crisis. A crisis between Ukrainian nationalists and Russians,” stated Dr. Anna Pechenkina. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”  

Dr. Anna Pechenkina is an assistant professor of political science at Utah State University. She is also an ethnic Russian and Ukrainian. Pechenkina moved to the United States in 2004 from Ukraine to continue her higher education.  

“The unusual nature of this war is that individuals on both sides of the front lines are extremely similar culturally, and they speak the same language,” Dr. Pechenkina told ABC4. She explained that she has many friends in Ukraine, who like her, are ethnic Russians and they are fighting in the resistance against Russia.

She said this is common in this war due to the background and makeup of people along the border of the two countries. Pechenkina jokingly added that these resistance fighters are fighting for Ukraine all while cursing Russian leaders in perfect Russian.   

How does the fighting end? Dr. Pechenkina said that’s not easy to answer. This war could result in several different outcomes. However, she explained that Russian leaders believed the war would be finished in a matter of days. As it continues, those same leaders will have to conclude that the outcome they planned for will not be reality. “The longer this war continues, the more the Russian side should be willing to scale down their demands.”  

Along with Russian leaders changing their current demands, Dr. Pechenkina explained that other countries (especially the U.S. and other NATO nations) need to use caution in their response to Russia. “This war is a reminder that World War III is not so impossible as I think we had all thought,” she stated. “And we need to be very careful when we hear some of the U.S. politicians calling for a more muscular response.”

There are those who would say the United States has been too timid in its response to the war. Pechenkina disagrees. She added: “It’s prudent to draw that line that assistance in terms of equipment and perhaps some financial aid will occur for Ukraine, but no troops will be on the ground. That to me seems like the wise decision.” 

While several outcomes are possible at the end of the war, Dr. Anna Pechenkina said NATO’s backing and unification to the war is something the world has never seen. “Putin, despite his objective to proclaim to stall NATO’s expansion, he’s working hard to expand NATO.” Pechenkina laughed. She then said, “We haven’t seen such demand for NATO, such unity of NATO.”  

Dr. Pechenkina said for those with loved ones (or connections) in Ukraine, it is a good idea to tell them how much support there is for their country to lift up their spirits.  For those with loved ones (or connections) in Russia, she explained that it’s a good idea to send them news articles (from reliable sources) about the war.  She said many people in Russia don’t understand the extent of the crisis due to Russian media censorship.