This article was originally written by Hannah Shields of Long Beach State’s Daily Forty-Niner, courtesy of The Cal State Journalism Newswire, a platform combining coverage from CSU campus newspapers.
Long Beach State political science professor, Edgar Kaskla is originally from Estonia, a northern European country bordered by Latvia and Russia.
Kaskla also studied with an emphasis on international political economy and Eastern European politics.
He also said he has friends and family who still live in Estonia and is greatly concerned for them.
“It’s a one-day trip from the capital, Tallinn, to Kyiv,” he said. “I’m worried sick about what could happen next, in terms of the war getting broader.”
49er: Do you think there is a possibility of the war escalating to WWIII?
Yes, I think there is a big chance. I wouldn’t put it at fifty-fifty, but more in a one-in-three chance.
I don’t think Vladimir Putin has all his senses about him; he’s gone a little bit wacko. With someone who is not mentally all there, you kind of wonder what his thought process is, or if he even has a thought process.
He might risk it all.
49er: What would be the steps that could escalate the war into a WWIII?
There was a bombing [March 14] twelve miles from the Polish border. Poland is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member; article five of NATO says that an attack against one country is an attack against all.
The professor said he did not know if the intentionality of a bombing (accidental or on purpose) in a NATO country would be cause enough for NATO to step in and war against Russia.
49er: Do you think Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have been predicted?
Yes and no.
I heard Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, on TV the other day saying, “I didn’t expect this to happen” and I agree, I didn’t think it would happen. I thought Putin would bluff and bluff and bluff.
If they did [go in], I thought it was going to be limited to the Eastern provinces.
The professor is referring to Luhansk and Donetsk, two Ukrainian territories that have been claimed by pro-Russian separatists in 2014.
I really didn’t expect a full-on assault against all of Ukraine. That was a surprise.
49er: Do you think it is likely Ukraine could become a part of NATO?
Realistically, NATO is not going to take on a member that has occupied provinces in the east part of its country. They don’t want that drama.
I know that Ukraine had applied to the European Union a couple of years ago, too. They re-applied now, just recently, I think, but it’s the same thing. The EU doesn’t want to take on this risk and burden of taking on a country that’s partially occupied.
49er: What alternative path could come out from this invasion, besides Russia taking over Ukraine, Russia backing off from Ukraine, or an escalation into WWIII?
Somebody could take Putin out.
Not like a bullet to the head. I’m talking about some kind of coup, because they did it to Mikhail Gorbachev back in 1991.
There’s that and there’s also the military, you know, someone stepping up and saying we’re not winning here.
I’m a believer in democracy and popular movements, especially for young people. There’s a definite generation gap in Russia. Older generations speak primarily Russian, but younger generations generally speak Russian and English, or some other language.
As long as they have internet connections, they can find out what the news is from outside sources.
[The sanctions] are another factor where the oligarchs themselves depended on Putin to get rich. They have lots of money, but it’s dominated by dollars and euros and so forth.
You cut off access to their money, and I can’t put myself in their shoes, but what kind of oligarch are you if you don’t have cash?