Local impact of potential war between Ukraine and Russia - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Local impact of potential war between Ukraine and Russia

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The brewing conflict in Ukraine could have far-reaching effects, which could be felt here in Western Massachusetts.

The situation in Ukraine has been going on for a very long time.

The country is split between joining the European Union or aligning with Russia.

Add to that, the country is billions of dollars in debt and on the brink of going broke.

If things escalate more, this regional conflict could have far-reaching impacts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is only trying to protect his country's interests, including a huge naval base on the Black Sea.

Stephen Jones is a professor of Russian studies at Mount Holyoke College.

The professor said in some ways, Russia is stuck in a 19th century mindset of spheres of influence.

"[Russia] still believes that military power is the most effective way of gaining influence," said Jones.

President Obama said "there will be costs" if Russia moved troops into Ukraine but did not go into specifics.

The United Nations has also strongly condemned Russia.

Jones told CBS 3 that the West must do something that will make the government of Russia take notice.

"You have to be absolutely firm with Russia and to show that there really will be follow-through on these consequences and not just rhetoric," Jones stated, "which is what Russia expects, just rhetoric, because that is what's happened before."

It is unlikely the U.S. will send in troops for this conflict, but a war in Ukraine will more than likely hit home in Western Massachusetts, mostly in the wallet.

"Thirty percent of European gas comes from Russia, so this is another issue for Russia because, should there be a war, it's very likely that deliveries of gas will be restricted in some way," said Jones.

If that happens, Europe will need to go elsewhere for supplies, and that means prices at the pump will go up, not only here but around the world.

Jones said it will only take one bullet to start a bloody conflict that will go on for some time, and it could spill over into other former Soviet republics.

"If they get away with it without very serious consequences, they can do it in other places in their former empire," said Jones.

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