For more than three months, the potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine has kept the world on edge. To little surprise, Russian President Vladimir Putin has downplayed the amassing of an estimated 150,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.

Russian history scholar Ronald Suny from the University of Michigan asks a provocative question: What if an invasion was never Putin’s intention? “One interpretation,” Suny writes, “is that President Putin mobilized his soldiers and sailors primarily to force a dialogue with the West over what the spheres of influence and interest in Eastern Europe should be.”

That question could not be more timely, given the decline of the Russian economy and the potential financial devastation promised by the U.S. and NATO from severe economic sanctions if Putin invades.

In other stories, Arie Perliger, a professor of criminology and justice studies at UMass Lowell, looks at the sharp rise in the U.S. of anti-Asian violence during the pandemic.

Howard Manly

Race + Equity Editor

What he wants. What he really, really wants? Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Invading Ukraine may never have been Putin’s aim – the threat alone could advance Russia’s goals

Ronald Suny, University of Michigan

A scholar of Russian history breaks down what Putin’s aim might be in threatening military invasion, and why that might backfire.

A Puerto Rican man passes buildings for lease in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 16, 2017. Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Puerto Rico has a plan to recover from bankruptcy — but the deal won’t ease people’s daily struggles

Carlos A Suárez Carrasquillo, University of Florida

Puerto Rico has reached an agreement to partially settle its historic bankruptcy crisis. But public cuts to education and health care are unlikely to ease, creating ongoing challenges for Puerto Ricans

Coal piles outside of PacifiCorp’s Hunter power plant in Castle Dale, Utah. George Frey, AFP, via Getty Images

The Supreme Court could hamstring federal agencies’ regulatory power in a high-profile air pollution case

Albert C. Lin, University of California, Davis

West Virginia v. EPA could be the opportunity that conservative justices have been seeking to curb federal power.

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