Image courtesy of Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera

CPP students seemingly uninformed on U.S. involvement in Russia and Ukraine conflict

By David Pendleton, March 21, 2023

The tension between Russia and the United States continues after President Biden announced $500 million of additional assistance to Ukraine this year, meanwhile some Cal Poly Pomona students seem uninformed of the United States’ involvement in this war.

Since Feb.24, the U.S. has sent tens of billions of dollars in emergency funding to support Ukraine. At the beginning of this year the Biden administration announced they would send an additional 31 M1 Abrams tanks along with additional funding. 

According to CNBC, Russian officials claim this most recent Western support is considered a “permanent escalation.”  Despite Russia’s disdain for the U.S. support with Ukraine, U.S. officials have not backed down. 

When the Russian invasion happened over a year ago, the majority of Americans were quick to show support for Ukraine with the fight against Russia, but as time has passed, some CPP students haven’t stayed updated on the war.  

“I feel like a lot of people don’t care because it’s not affecting us yet,” said animal science student Yubitza Millot. “So a lot of people aren’t paying attention to the news.”

More recently on March 14 a U.S. Air Force drone was forced to go down in the Black Sea after a Russian fighter dumped fuel and damaged its propeller, according to The New York Times. The drone was flying over international waters when the Russian fighter jet forced it down. The event is the first physical contact between Russia and the U.S. since the beginning of the war last year.

While questions about further U.S. involvement in the war have started to rise, Associate Professor of political science, Marc Scarcelli, believes there is too much disengagement from current events.

“I think the part of being a citizen of the U.S. and part of being a citizen of the world is that we all need to be better informed because it’s such an interconnected world,” said Scarcelli. “These things really do affect us.”

Civil engineering student Samuel Lena is hesitant to watch the news since it always tends to be negative.

“There’s always something very large happening,” said Lena. “I feel like we’re all tuning it out, especially if we can’t do anything about it.

Scarcelli suspects the disconnect between college age students and the war in Ukraine is partially due to the fact the U.S. has a volunteer military, making it easy for the rest of the country to tune out, even though the draft still exists.

“There’s this disturbing disconnect between these very real threats in the world, and this tuned out, social media obsessed society that we’ve become and that’s what tyrants like Putin are counting on,” said Scarcelli.

Image courtesy of Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera

Although some students are avoiding the news due to the lack of personal impact, others feel the news to be divisive and biased.

“People tend to get sucked up in politics,” said mechanical engineering student Andrew Hembree. “Instead of politics being about civil conversation and meeting a happy medium, it’s about belittling both sides.”

At the beginning of the war, some people thought the Ukrainian military would defect from the first impact of the Russian invasion. Now that Ukraine, with Western support, has been able to resist Russia’s attacks, speculation of nuclear weapons from Putin have risen.

“It is a very real possibility that Putin will use smaller nuclear weapons called tactical nukes,” said Scarcelli. “Designed to be big enough to take out a military base or even a city.”

An attack like that may push Western Allies further in their support of Ukraine’s defense against Putin, causing increased escalation with Russia. 

“So at every stop along the way, the U.S. is walking a very fine line,” said Scarcelli. “Trying to support Ukraine, but not provide weaponry that would then prompt an escalation.”

Although the U.S. is not in direct involvement in the war, Scarcelli believes it is important for young college age students to stay updated on world events.

“If people today can find unbelievably large amounts of hours to spend on social media they can find time to read the headlines,” said Scarcelli.

Feature image courtesy of Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera

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