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Ariz. professor to talk about Russian threat to neighbors

WASHINGTON – An Arizona State University professor will explore new trends in the relationship among Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict during a lecture in Albuquerque on Friday.

Lenka Bustikova, a native of the Czech Republic who specializes in east European and ethnic politics, told the Journal that relations among Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine have historically been tenuous, but with the admission of Poland and Lithuania into the European Union, Ukraine is looking to strengthen its bonds with the two nearby states.

The lecture – part of the Albuquerque International Association’s ongoing series – will be on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the University of New Mexico Continuing Education Center.

Bustikova will discuss how the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has transformed historical regional grievances and presented new challenges to the stability of eastern Europe. Poland is a vocal supporter of Ukrainian territorial integrity in Brussels, where the European Union is headquartered. Russia formally annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014, sparking fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to annex additional east European territory.

“When you look at public opinion polls, Poland is very favorable to Ukraine, so the United States (a strong Polish ally) is finally taking the Russian threat seriously,” Bustikova said. “There are talks about conducting NATO exercises. … There is definitely an immediate sense of threat from Russia, which I think is very real.

“I think deep down in each of these countries, there is this historical perspective of being threatened by Russia,” she added.

Bustikova, who will conduct a question-and-answer session after her lecture, said the U.S. government should increase its diplomatic engagement in the region.

“The U.S. government is reluctantly interested, but I think the U.S. government is still not getting it,” Bustikova said, adding that Russia should “be back on the radar in a very serious way.”