by Pamela Young, Published March 18, 2014
YPSILANTI – One of the biggest challenges facing reporters and experts closely watching the crisis in Ukraine is the fluidity of information and lack of understanding of the Russian position, says Judith Kullberg, Eastern Michigan University political science professor who specializes in Russian politics.
“The Russian perspective is totally at odds with that of the United States and Europe,” said Kullberg, who is fluent in Russian. “The two sides are talking past each other. In order for negotiations to succeed, they need to find a common language. Washington must be willing to consider, or at least understand, Russia’s views.
“Russia sees the U.S. as a destabilizing force in the world. Part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s critique of the U.S. is that we were behind the Arab Spring, supporting opposition movements and helping to overthrow governments in Egypt, Libya and Syria. And indeed, the Syrian opposition is supported by the U.S.”
Russia argues that the U.S. is moving around the world, interfering in the domestic affairs of other states. Russia also perceives the overflow of Viktor Yanukovych’s government in Ukraine as part of that pattern of Western interference and destabilization.
Kullberg says the U.S. government and citizens need to look at the bigger picture. Among her other observations:
Kullberg has spoken about revolutionary legacies and resistance in Russia and Cuba, and presented, “Russia without Putin: The Re-Emergence of Russian Civil Society,” at the annual meeting of the Michigan Political Science Association.
Kullberg’s research also includes the development of Russian civil society. Begun in 2007, her work was supported by a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Samara, Russia. Kullberg says she is trying to assess the way in which various factors, such as the state, international organizations and access to resources, affect the character and performance of non-governmental organizations in Russia.
Kullberg graduated from the University of Michigan with her Ph.D. in 1992 and from the Russian Language Program at Leningrad State University in 1986. She received her bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State College (now University) in 1981.
Kullberg is available as an expert source and can be reached at 734-487-3113.