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Cleveland professors discuss unfolding situation with Ukraine and Russia

Russia and Ukraine flags waving in the wind. [Vladimir Zotov/Shutterstock]
Russia and Ukraine flags waving in the wind. [Vladimir Zotov/Shutterstock]

Correction: During the 2/23/22 "Sound of Ideas" program,  we gave the impression that Case Western Reserve University professor Roman Sheremeta was in Ukraine when he appeared on the show, but he was actually in his Cleveland area home, having returned Tuesday, before the Russian invasion.

All eyes are watching Russian President Vladimir Putin this week as the leader ordered so-called "peacekeeping" troops into two Russia-backed separatist territories in Ukraine, and hinted at the possibility of further military escalation. The move came after Russia formally recognized the two breakaway republics.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged allies to take action immediately, and asked the Ukrainian people to remain calm.

Yesterday, President Biden imposed new economic sanctions against Russia and called its move against Ukraine a "flagrant violation of international law."  Biden called Russia's actions the beginning of an invasion.   Earlier the UK also imposed similar economic sanctions, and Germany stopped the progression of an energy pipeline from Russia. 

In addition to this first round of sanctions, President Biden announced the US will move troops already stationed in Europe to strengthen the Baltic states.  But the president described the move as "defensive" and reiterated the US has no intention of combat with Russia.

While it might seem like the conflict is very far from us in Northeast Ohio, there are an estimated 80,000 people living here with Ukrainian ancestry -- many with families who are still living abroad.

Due to racial health disparities, Black Americans are more likely to have heart disease and diabetes than white Americans, diseases which could result in amputations if untreated, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

That makes Black Americans four times as likely to have a limb amputated than their white counterparts.

People with lower incomes are also at higher risk for amputation, and the health disparities continue for those who have limbs amputated. It can be an expensive medical procedure, and rehabilitation costs a person time and money as well. People who have had amputations may have trouble getting back to work.

All of that can result in a person being less healthy and less financially secure than a person whose limb was saved.


Roman Sheremeta, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics, Case Western Reserve University  
Milena Sterio, Professor of International Law, Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University  
Mehdi Shishehbor, DO, President,  University Hospitals Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute 
Lisa Ryan, Health Reporter, Ideastream Public Media

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."