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Why Marylanders care about the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Posted: 5:10 PM, Feb 24, 2022
Updated: 2022-02-24 17:46:59-05
Ukraine Tensions - New York

BALTIMORE — "The world woke up this morning to a full scale invasion of Ukraine on the part of Russia, Russian forces invaded essentially from three directions," Joseph Clark, an associate professor of political science at Towson University summarized.

Clark spoke with WMAR-2 News on Thursday afternoon, just after the president finished his remarks announcing additional sanctions against Russia, to give us an analysis of the situation.

"And other than that this sort of normal events of chaos and confusion, attempts to flee the combat zone are occurring, the global economy is taking a hit the stock market last time I checked was down more than four hundred points," he added.

Ukraine Tensions
People waiting for a Kyiv bound train walk to a platform in Kramatorsk, the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. Ukraine's government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border in a “full-scale war” that could rewrite the geopolitical order and whose fallout already reverberated around the world. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The invasion began early Thursday morning, Ukraine time, and evolved throughout the day as different places, such as Chernobyl, fell to Russian forces.

As to why Americans should pay attention to this conflict, Clark had two answers.

The first he called, "a moral political answer."

"We should be, sort of, champions of democracy and the right to self-determination," he says. "We've spent the better part of the past century championing that."

His second answer, he described as a "utilitarian argument;" that Russia won't stop at Ukraine.

"They never do," he added.

However, he warns of the need for the United States to strike a balance.

"We still want to be very careful not to inflame the situation, but to pretend that we can ignore it and not pay the costs is not borne out by history," he says. "History suggests that eventually, we will suffer for not acting."

President Joe Biden this afternoon announced additional sanctions against Russia as a result of the attacks.

Biden Ukraine Tensions
President Joe Biden speaks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

"Now, it's unfolding largely as we predicted." he said.

A turn of events that worried a Baltimore man whose family roots and current community tie him deeply to Ukraine.

"The ties are strong," says John Wojtowycz, a financial advisor at St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church. "Many in the community have family still over there."

He called the invasion of Ukraine, "very upsetting."

"It's hard to see a nation being so violated and an intent to dismantle everything and take it back to the forties," says Wojtowycz.

Wojtowycz was born in America, after his parents snuck out of Ukraine, when it was a part of the Soviet Union in 1948.

He tells WMAR-2 News that he feels the US should have done more earlier.

In the meantime, he says the church will do everything they can.

"Whatever needs to be done, we will be doing it," he says. "It's just going to be a very difficult task, because I'm not sure how easily that will be achievable, if [Putin] takes over the country."

APTOPIX Ukraine Tensions
Ukrainian servicemen sit atop armored personnel carriers driving on a road in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences you have never seen." (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Meanwhile, the United States is preparing for Russian-launched cyberattacks, in retaliation for the sanctions imposed against the Kremlin.

"There'll be a lot of cyber exchanges back and forth," says Professor Clark.

However, when asked if he thinks American cities and institutions are prepared to head off that sort of attack, he responded, "by and large I would say no."

A cyberattack against the Maryland Department of Health crippled COVID-19 data reporting late last year, and it took the state weeks to get some systems back up and running.

But Clark worries that Russia could target systems people use every day.

"I'm very worried about infrastructure, like we saw with the pipelines last summer I worry about the ATM systems, I worry about traffic lights and 911 systems being vulnerable, as Russia simply looks to create chaos and inflict pain in American society," he tells WMAR-2 News.

You're likely to feel the pain at the pump too.

"A conflict thousands of miles away from us, it will affect us, it will affect the price at the pump, it will affect the value of your retirement portfolio. It may very well you affect whether or not you can access your child's records at school," he says. "So, this does matter."