AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As Russia invades the Ukraine and the United States unleashes new sanctions on the communist country, The Means Report talks to Augusta University political scientist – Dr. Craig Albert – about what comes next and what impact we will possibly feel here at home.

Brad Means: Dr. Albert, thanks for being with us. How are you?

Dr. Craig Albert: I’m doing all right. Thank you for having me on.

Brad Means: Absolutely, my first question to you is to just try to get you to settle a Facebook debate that’s being waged right now. Would this Russian invasion of Ukraine happen if Donald Trump was still in the white house?

Dr. Craig Albert: That’s a tough question. It’s unclear whether President Trump at that time, or if he was president now, how much he would’ve supported Ukraine, so it certain that many of the world’s nation states thought President Trump was an assertive president when it came to foreign policy, that he, if tested, he would respond with retaliation in a major way. But it’s unclear if a President Trump right now, would’ve regarded Ukraine as an essential ally of the United States, and whether or not he would’ve tried to defer a President Putin, from attacking Ukraine. So it’s just, it can’t be known because it’s unclear what his feelings towards a allied Ukraine would’ve been.

Brad Means: What is Russia trying to do here? Do they wanna take over the entire nation of Ukraine, or just those parts of it that are pro Russian?

Dr. Craig Albert: Well, as we speak on Thursday, they’re marching towards Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, so it looks like the Russian military is trying to overthrow the government of Kiev, and put in what we call a puppet regime that would be pro Moscow, friendly to Russian objectives and strategic concerns. So far President Putin has not indicated his troops want to remain in Ukraine, as a occupying force, but rather it looks like from initial assessments, he’s trying to encircle Kiev, overthrow the government, put his own government in, and then his forces could then leave because he would have a pro Putin government inside Ukraine.

Brad Means: Yeah, just from the outside looking in, you think Russia versus Ukraine, this will be over pretty quickly, but the Ukrainians are a tough lot. How long is this gonna last?

Dr. Craig Albert: I think this is a pretty fast March to Kiev, if Putin does indeed go all the way there, with all his forces, as we’re talking, he only has paratroops, if the rest of his, you know, infantry forces will march there. But I believe the Ukraine’s government strategy here is much like what the Chechens did, when Putin invaded there in 1999, which is to allow Russia to get inside the major cities, and then to start more of guerilla insurgency tactic against an unprepared Russian force for that type of warfare. So of course, the president of Ukraine has armed its civilians, they’ve been engaged in teaching the citizenry, how to fight against this type of fight, in this type of warfare, so they have been prepared for militia slash insurgency, a guerilla warfare for a few months now.

Brad Means: So many times you’ve talked about the future of war being cyber related, and people attacking one another’s cyber systems, computers, et cetera. This sounds like it could be bloodier than that.

Dr. Craig Albert: Oh, this could be much bloodier than that. Depending on the type of forces President Putin sends in to Kiev, depending on the type of partisan resistance that the citizens of Ukraine will give to that, it could be something quite devastating, something not seen in the center of Europe, since World War II, and not in Europe since the former Yugoslav wars in the early nineties. There is some major cyber conflict happening right now, a very sophisticated attack, there’s no attribution right now, but all indicators is from Russia, where they released a significant adaptation of a known Malware cyber attack. It looks like it’s been in the system of Ukraine for a couple of months now and was unleashed last night, and it looks like it’s also been spreading to the Baltic areas as well. So this is what we call hybrid warfare, where you attack simultaneously with cyber means, and kinetic means.

Brad Means: Should we worry about any of our private information here at home? What can we do to stay safe during this conflict, from a cyber perspective?

Dr. Craig Albert: The United States Cyber Command, United States Army Cyber, has been doing everything it can to protect the United States from any type of cyber attacks from Russia. This is something that our strategy and policy, and national cyber policy has been focused on for a few years now, of course, a offense has the advantage when it comes to cyber attacks, so if Russia has indeed unleashed some type of new worm, or new wiping, type of havoc on the United States, if they indeed targeted the United States, but it would be met swiftly with retaliation, and it wouldn’t take the United States long to recoup, and recover and get rid of that Malware.

Brad Means: Dr. Albert, does sanctions work? It just seems like every time we hear about other nations responding to this situation in Ukraine, you hear that their response is sanction related. Do those have an impact?

Dr. Craig Albert: Sanctions are a tool of warfare, a tool of states craft, so they can work in particular situations against particular foes, it’s unclear that anything short of full kinetic deterrent by NATO, by European allies, would’ve prevented Putin from engaging in this type of onslaught, so I don’t think economic sanctions will work. I believe Putin has already engaged in some type of diplomatic ties with China, to ensure that if his economy crashes, China will come to the rescue, I’m pretty sure that’s what he was doing, meeting with the Chinese delegation during the Olympics, was solidifying some type of economic ties, more thoroughly between those two countries, as both our revisionist power, seeking to redraw the balance of power in the world, so I’m not sure economic sanctions will do anything against a President Putin, a quasi authoritarian leader, bent on expanding his spear of influence, and the balance of power in Europe.

Brad Means: You know, the initial global response to this invasion was skyrocketing oil prices, plunging stock markets all around the world. How might we feel this here at home when we go about our daily lives?

Dr. Craig Albert: Well, I think as we’re recording this, our futures are open, and lower the Stock Market’s gonna be down a few percent, bucks a barrel already, so we’re gonna immediately see the effects at the pump. We can expect some type of global inflation, depending on how big of an invasion this turns out to be, basically the worse the invasion, or the worse the catastrophe in Ukraine, the more economic impact, the worse we’re gonna feel it, the more we’re gonna feel it here at home, and in the nation overall and in the CSRA specifically.

Brad Means: Could this escalate into something much bigger than what it is now? I don’t wanna say world war III, but how big could this get?

Dr. Craig Albert: So when you’re talking about Russia, you always have to be concerned about the possibility of escalation. So I’ll just speak theoretically not hypothetically, but just theoretically, NATO has deployed its defense forces, as we’re recording this on Thursday, sending its defense forces into the Baltic members of NATO and into Poland, I believe the United States and NATO have about a hundred jets patrolling the border zone between NATO countries and Poland, and the Ukraine right now, so that means, and we’re seeing live on Twitter, dog fights in the air between Ukrainian Air Force, and the Russian Air Force, so the likelihood that some accidents could happen, and some misperceptions between Russian pilots and U.S pilots, is a theoretical possibility, the idea would be that if some type of catastrophe does happen, where they engage mistakenly engage, or intentionally engage one another, that it doesn’t escalate from there. This is what you know is cliche to called the fog of war, but when you’re talking about power wars, which, you know, even though a minor great power, Russia is a great power, the accidents, from each other, you have to be, you know, cognizant of any accidental, compromise, or kinetic action between them.

Brad Means: And probably my last question, maybe one or two more, and that’s just to talk about the sons and daughters from the United States who are over there right now, or who may be deployed, they’re not trying to keep Russia from invading Ukraine are they? Aren’t they just trying to prevent Russia from going into neighboring nations?

Dr. Craig Albert: That’s right, so the NATO forces right now, of which the United States is a part, are being redeployed, repositioned into Poland, the parts that are bordering Ukraine, and into the Baltic areas, the part that are bordering Russia, the idea is that if Putin is successful in Ukraine, he might go ahead and stretch into the Baltic areas. The Baltic’s are a member of NATO. So the NATO forces are trying to deter any possibility of that happening, by redeploying its defensive forces, only defensive forces as a deterrent against any further possibility of Russian incursion into those lands, which are NATO members states. So the United States is obligated to respond to those, if anything happens.

Brad Means: Dr. Craig Albert, such a quick visit this morning, but as always so very informative. Thank you for your time, I know we’ll visit soon.

Dr. Craig Albert: Okay, thank you.

Brad Means: Dr. Craig Albert from Augusta University, we rely on him heavily here, and we appreciate his time.