On Thursday, June 8 2017, American Space Leipzig was honored to welcome renowned professor and author of The Conservative Turn, Prof. Michael Kimmage. The event saw up to 20 people in attendance, among which were university students and several members of the broader public community.
In his talk, Prof. Kimmage spoke about the current state of the West’s relations with Russia, preceding and following the latter’s encroachment on the sovereignty of Ukraine and the ensuing conflict in the Donbas region.
Prof. Kimmage spoke of the West’s achievements, as well as failures, in said conflict. He argued that one of the West’s achievements was stopping the spread of the conflict into neighboring countries and whole regions, as well as “limiting” casualties, avoiding a substantial conflict between the West and Russia, continuing sanctions on Russia, and ultimately achieving a continued support of NATO by the United States. However, the West has also failed in certain aspects, according to Prof. Kimmage, in that the 2015 Minsk Agreement essentially failed as Donbas de facto became part of Russia.
Prof. Kimmage offered 3 possible future scenarios for the West’s relations with Russia. First, a scenario of conflict in the Ukraine and Belarus, a grey zone of the international security infrastructure that would also increase tensions and fear in Baltic States. Second, a scenario of diplomacy would see the West trying to address the shortcomings of peacekeeping in the Minsk agreement. However, diplomatic actions would require a strong transatlantic unity and would have to be done collectively. Third, and finally, a scenario of divide and conquer by Russia, in which it would exploit national divides in Western states and negatively influence transatlantic unity.
In closing, Prof. Kimmage saw the United States and the current Republican Congress lacking in certain aspects to adequately address the growing tensions of the West-Russia relations. The transatlantic community, states and citizens alike, will need to put pressure on the Trump administration to strengthen and maintain transatlantic bonds in the face of a growing challenge.