Bryan Pregon informs students about conflict in Ukraine

Bryan Pregon informs students about conflict in Ukraine

This is an interview containing information about the upsetting events happening between Russia and Ukraine. Bryan Pregon, a government teacher here at ALHS gave us his input. Some of his answers have been shortened for clarity and length. 


Question: What do you know about what’s happening between Russia and Ukraine? What is it? Why is it happening? How did it start? Who’s right? Who’s wrong? 


Answer: “The main issue for a long time historically the country that is Russia was a bigger country. The Soviet Union took up a geographically larger space. In 1901, the USSR broke into a number of small regions, the biggest part which is now called Russia. That was the main part of the USSR that broke apart. But then other countries developed and these other countries became independent and no longer under the Soviet Union’s control. And more recently Vladimir Putin who has been the leader of Russia said that it was a big mistake and Russia needs to reclaim some of that territory. So I think the simplest answer is that it is a territorial dispute between people in Ukraine who want their own country and Vladimir Putin in Russia who wants to take back Ukraine and some other places that were historically under Soviet control.”


Question: What originally made Vladimir Putin start taking over Ukraine NOW?


Answer: “The way that I would explain it is that most of Russia’s economy is based on selling oil and some of the resources that Ukraine has, some of the natural resources that Ukraine has access to are very valuable and Russia would like to have those resources. If Ukraine starts mining and processing some of those resources then other European countries won’t buy as much from Russia, which would severely hurt Russia’s economy, and they don’t want that to happen. So they, Russia, want those resources and they want to be the ones with access to them as well.” 


Question: If Russia wins this war, what do you think the next step is going to be for them? Or for the United States/NATO?  


Answer: “Right now all the NATO members are trying to create a protective wall around Ukraine so that if Ukraine falls then Russia would have to stop and not be able to continue to move forward into other countries. One of the next logical targets for Russia or Putin would be Moldova because Moldova is also not a part of NATO.  Any countries that are a part of NATO means they’re more “safe.” Safe isn’t the right word but they are less likely to be attacked by Russia because of that treaty. The NATO Treaty means if Russia invades one of those countries then all of those countries have agreed to go to war on their behalf. I don’t think, at least right now, that Putin is interested in having a war with all of the NATO countries. He’s actually having enough trouble with taking over Ukraine and the international response that he has received from countries all over the world that have put pretty severe sanctions on Russia, it’s really making this process (tougher) than Putin thought it would be I think.” 


Question: To what fullest extent do you think the United States/NATO is going to get involved?


Answer: “Well NATO and the United States are already involved by trying to supply Ukraine as much as possible. By sending them guns and bullets, medical supplies, food. We will send them as many supplies as needed. Congress was just discussing a bill that is many billions of dollars of humanitarian aid to send, and what’s happening from countries throughout the world. So as long as Russia wants to fight Ukraine and Ukraine is able to fight back all of those countries are just going to funnel resources to Ukraine, which makes it tough for Russia to just quickly win that conflict. And I think it will drag out longer and longer if Russia doesn’t change their mind or start using more serious types of weapons to speed up their invasion of Ukraine. Many countries including the United States are no longer accepting flights from Russia, many countries have stopped purchasing oil from Russia anymore. Currently, the United States is buying Russian oil and that is a big controversy that Congress or many people on both sides of democrats and republicans want to stop doing that because that is funding some of the Russian military forces. If we do that, our gas prices will be significantly higher. And so, I think, that our government has tried to do other sanctions first so that there are fewer sanctions that will immediately impact a lot of Americans’ budgets. It doesn’t seem like Putin’s invasion is slowing down. I think it’s just speeding up which means if we want to help more we are going to have to cripple Russia’s economy more than we already have. Not purchasing their oil would be one way of doing it, some of the bigger countries not purchasing oil. Germany, I think their number purchaser of oil from Russia, and they’ve stopped purchasing oil from Russia.”


Question: Do you think China is going to step in? Why or why not?


Answer: “I don’t think China is going to get involved. I think they are perfectly happy letting other very powerful countries fight and not have anything thing to do with them. The way I kind of thought that China had wanted this whole thing to happen after the Olympics just so they could have no interruptions during that time. But now I don’t think they are trying to encourage this sort of thing to happen but I don’t think, at least in the United Nations they’ve abstained a couple of votes, which means they didn’t vote yes and they didn’t vote no. They are just kind of letting things happen and seeing how it develops before they get directly involved if they do get directly involved.” 


Question: How does all of this make you feel?


Answer: “ I think, personally it’s always concerning when major world forces are acting in ways that don’t let countries make their own decisions. Whether you call that democracy or any country that wants its independence and has had a history over the last 30+ years of being independent, I don’t think the world has condemned Vladimir Putin’s decision to take this over, and I agree that this is the wrong thing for Russia to do. I’m glad to see so many countries in the world kind of uniting against that aggression. I hope that if this lasts longer, that average citizens like us if gas does get more expensive because we’ve stopped buying it from Russia, everyone sort of says we understand why that’s happened, and I’m okay to pay a little bit more for gas if it helps get Vladimir Putin out of Ukraine.”


Question: What do you think we can do to help?


Answer: I think you communicate to our leaders that we support all the sanctions,  we support all the measures even if it’s short-term sacrifice. At this point, we aren’t being asked to sacrifice American lives by sending troops or anything we are just being asked to support, in economic ways. Don’t buy products from Russia, don’t allow Russian oligarchs to fly around and have vacations in fancy places all throughout the world. We don’t purchase products or resources from Russia, which means our products might be more expensive for a while until those things equalize out. Those are the sacrifices that I think average people can be willing to make.


Advice from Pregon: “To students, and everyone–always watch as much news as possible. Watch news from multiple sources, see what’s happening. To make sure you are knowledgeable about what is happening and not just in your city or country but other places like Ukraine that are going to have an effect on all of us.”


The disgraceful events Russia has forced Ukraine and other countries to hopefully send a message to everyone. These circumstances had enforced major economical factors into Ukraine and other countries like the United States. As Russia continues this nasty dispute for territory, hopefully, things begin to turn around for everyone. May Ukraine swiftly recover from this.


Sources to look at: 

Is the “Why Ukraine Matters’ Facebook Post Truthful? l

Ukraine crisis: Russia declares war on Ukraine; reports of explosions in Kyiv; Putin sends warning about interference – NZ Herald

Why Russia is Invading Ukraine

 Why isn’t Ukraine part of Nato? How Russia opposed it joining and what becoming a member would mean

Putin: Countries that interfere with Russia will face severe consequences | TheHill