University of Alaska speaker discusses impact of Russian invasion of Ukraine on the state

A University of Alaska Anchorage professor who worked in Ukraine discusses the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Alaska.
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 9:33 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s been over a month since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the war continues to take an economic and human toll felt across the world.

On Thursday, the University of Alaska Anchorage Department of Public Policy and Institute of Social and Economic Research co-hosted a seminar with Chad Briggs, PhD, who discussed the invasion’s security and energy implications for Alaska.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine does reverberate pretty strongly in terms of what happens here in Alaska, what happens in the United States,” Briggs said. “And the feelings that people have when they see these images on TV.”

Briggs, the former director of graduate studies at UAA’s College of Business and Public Policy, was in Ukraine in 2011 where he worked on bringing in NATO and European Union funding to try and help train Ukrainian military experts with ideas of irregular, hybrid and cyber warfare.

He was based in Kosovo and Ukraine for four years and moved back to Alaska where works with ISER as a researcher on national science foundation projects, and is faculty at Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Advanced Studies.

“The energy question is still a lingering one,” Briggs said. “Meaning, even though the European Union came out with a new energy strategy about two weeks ago in which they lay out how they’re going to get off Russian oil and gas well before — quote unquote ‘well before’ — 2030, this still leaves a lot of time for, you know how do you sanction? How do you cut off oil and gas if so much of your country is dependent on it?”

He added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not make a huge immediate impact on Alaska’s oil and gas industry, and said it points to a bigger question of how countries will move forward creating their own version of energy security.

“You can look at this in a couple of different perspectives. One, you can look at this in terms of, hey we need to ramp up our traditional oil and gas and perhaps get back to coal, get back to nuclear,” Briggs said. “Or alternatively, you can say this is not just an opportunity but a necessary step that we need to take in order to move to renewable energy technologies.”

Energy security is one of a few subjects Briggs said Russia’s invasion has brought to light and has many countries reconsider how much they are spending on things like defense and defensive posture.

As deputy chair for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, Briggs said his talk came from a personal perspective as a professor and researcher.

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