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Foreign-policy discussion dissects US-Russian foreign policy

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Randall Schweller, left, and Jakub Grygiel, right, discuss U.S.-Russia relations at the Moritz College of Law on April 20. Peter Mansoor, center, a professor in the Department of History, moderates. Credit: Ian Doherty | Lantern Reporter

The Alexander Hamilton Society, a student organization dedicated to discussing current events and their foreign policy implications, hosted a panel Thursday evening at the Moritz College of Law to discuss the United States’ foreign policy approach to Russia.

The panel featured Randall Schweller, a political science professor at Ohio State, and Jakub Grygiel, a senior fellow in residence at the Center for European Policy Analysis. To stimulate the conversation, Schweller assumed a pro-Russia relations point of view while Grygiel took on the hands-off approach to Russia.

“Talking to Russia nowadays is like McCarthyism,” Schweller said. “I don’t think they are our rival, but I also don’t think that Putin is a good guy.”

Schweller said Russia is more intrusive with its current foreign policy because of three things: the recent expansion of NATO, the enlargement of the European Union and the spread of Western culture and democracy to Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, Grygiel said Russia’s intrusive foreign policy resulted from its internal problems.

“The (Vladimir) Putin regime has a need for foreign aggression,” Grygiel said. “Democracy and NATO threaten to undermine the regime and how it functions. Also, the financial crisis of 2008 gave Russia the chance to assess Europe and the United States and see if (Russia) could expand (its) influence globally.”

Grygiel offered a solution as to how the United States could deal with Russia in the future, or if Russia becomes more intrusive.

“We have to continue what we’re doing, but we should deploy more troops in Eastern Europe if things get worse,” Grygiel said. “If things get worse, we have to negotiate with Russia, but not from a position of weakness.”

During the discussion, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions, one of which was whether people should be concerned with Russia being involved in the U.S.’s most recent presidential election.

Neither panelist expressed concern.

“No, they meddled in both parties, it just so happens that they got into the DNC,” Schweller said. “What are you so worried about?”

Grygiel said it was simply business as usual.

“It’s called international politics, we have to play that game,” Grygiel said. “The competition always exists.”

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