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"Brother fighting brother." Talk explains how Russia's invasion of Ukraine impacts Alaska

A talk from the University of Alaska Fairbanks delves into the narrative Russian President Vladimir Putin is pushing to justify the invasion of Ukraine, and the war’s potential impacts to Alaska. A link to the recording is posted below.

Vladimir Putin’s narrative on Ukraine is a myth, according to Tyler Kirk. He’s an assistant professor of history and the assistant director of Arctic and Northern Studies at UAF. He is giving a public talk on Russian’s Invasion of Ukraine tonight. (Thursday)

"I'd like to clarify the myths behind that imperialist vision that Putin has developed somewhere in his own mind,” Kirk said.

Kirk has studied the Soviet Union, post-Soviet Russia, and the circumpolar North for years. He has a new book not yet published: "Remembering the Gulag: A History of Memory in Russia's Far North, 1987-2021."

He says Putin’s regime is in an identity crisis.

"And that's the thing with both the Russian empire and the Soviet Union and even the post-Soviet world is that its incredibly diverse multi-ethnic multi-lingustic society. And that's, I think particularly painful to both the Russians and Ukrainians, is that people have family on both sides -- brothers attacking brothers," he said.
"This is Putin's war against Ukraine, not Russia's war."

Joining Kirk will be Dr. Brandon Boylan, associate professor of political science and director of Arctic and Northern Studies at UAF. He is an expert in international relations.

He says this war will affect Alaska’s economy and security in ways that won’t affect other states, such as more shipping Russian shipping near Alaska, more problems in fisheries, and a breakdown in Alaska/Russian relationships.

"The Alaska Coast Guard has a strong history of working with the Russian border guard. And that is in jeopardy now. And that cooperation is vital to this region."

He says there is a lot at stake for Alaska’s coastal Native communities with historical family ties to Chukotka and the Russian far east.

"A few years ago, the American and Russian governments agreed to like a visa-free zone for those that could show familial and cultural ties to the region’s Native communities. And so that could be jeopardized," he said.