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Weekend Recs: Russia & Ukraine

By Jenna Renaud

map of Ukraine & Russia borders

Source: “The Economist”

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Memorial Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Jenna, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

If you’ve been paying any attention to international news lately, you may have seen that tensions are rising between Ukraine and Russia, and war may be on the horizon. If you’ve just been getting bits and pieces from social media, but don’t understand the full story, I’ve done the digging and put together recs to keep you in the know, whether you have 1 minute or 40 minutes.  

If you have 1 minute… watch the latest update from President Joe Biden following Russia’s claim they would “pull troops back” from the borders.

If you have 6 minutes… skim this article breaking down the history between Russia and Ukraine and the details of why tensions are escalating right now. 

If you have 8 minutes… listen to “The Takeaway” podcast by NPR. You will hear them discuss the conflict at the border as well as have a conversation with Alex Ward, a national security reporter at Politico. 

If you have 40 minutes… interact with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker. They offer updates on the conflict as well as a slideshow for a more visual exploration of the conflict. 

If you have 2 minutes or hours… follow live updates regarding the situation via Al Jazeera’s website. 

Jenna Renaud is a Graduate Assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a Graduate Student in the Communication Department.

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Global Smackdown: Northern Ireland

“The images of these protests harken some very bad memories to people who are older and remember these kinds of images of violence from ‘The Troubles.’”

This week on Dr. Tim Horner’s Global Smackdown he looks at the unrest in Northern Ireland and how this could be the beginning of something larger. Horner points to two key events that have played a part in triggering these protests: the 2,000 person funeral of IRA member Bobby Storey during COVID-19 and Brexit. He also touches upon the dangers of the political rhetoric being put forward and what role the United States may play based on Biden’s foreign policy.

The full Global Smackdown for Monday, Apr. 12 can be found here.

Where in the world are we?



Global Smackdown: Pope in Iraq

“This trip is not just accomplishing the dream of [Pope Francis’s] predecessor, but also, it fits perfectly with one of his biggest emphases – dialogue with Islam and different kinds of Islam.”

This week Dr. Tim Horner is joined by special guest Massimo Faggioli, professor of theological history at Villanova, to discuss Pope Francis’s current trip to Iraq, the first trip to the country by any pope. They discuss the underlying significance of this trip, the historical basis, and how it plays into Pope Francis’s larger agenda.

The full Global Smackdown for Monday, March 8 is available here.

Where is the world are we?


Global Smackdown: Al-Hol Syria – Wives of ISIS

“This is a serious problem that is showing some real cracks, not only in the global refugee system that we have, but also individual countries are not finding ways to repatriate these women… so the children that are attached to these women are suffering the most.”

This week on Dr. Tim Horner’s Global Smackdown he looks at the global refugee system by focusing on two key cases stemming from women at Al-Hol, a housing camp for women and children from ISIS in Syria. Horner looks at international responses to these appeals for repatriation and explores the potential outcomes if the West does not reevaluate their system. 

The full Global Smackdown for Monday, March 1 is available here.

Where in the world are we?


Global Smackdown: Yemen

“I want to focus on two perspectives of the situation in Yemen that really indicate a shift in the way that, not just America, but other countries are starting to think about how they do foreign policy.”

This week on Dr. Tim Horner’s Global Smackdown he looks at Yemen’s Houthi rebels recent attack on a civilian plane in Saudi Arabia. Horner takes this event and places it into a larger conversation about the evolution and development of foreign policy. He does this by juxtaposing two perspectives on the situation in Yemen.

The whole Global Smackdown for Monday, Feb. 12, is available via Zoom here.

Where in the world are we?


Global Smackdown: Semester Recap

For the final Global Smackdown of the semester Dr. Tim Horner offers some updates on previous Smackdowns he’s covered this fall. Below is a breakdown on what he updated in this episode as well as links to the original Smackdowns if you missed them. 

It can be so easy to become overly focused on where we’re at and our little bubbles, but Dr. Tim Horner’s Global Smackdowns allow us to take a step-back and stay up-to-date with the world of international relations. If you haven’t tuned in this semester, I definitely recommend going back and catching up on what you have missed!

This week’s full Global Smackdown can be viewed here.

Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.





Global Smackdown: Ethiopia

“If we don’t flood the area with diplomacy, this will just continue to spiral out of control and you could see the Horn of Africa descend into this, bringing in Sudan and Eritrea.”

Dr. Tim Horner brings us back to the Horn of Africa this week looking at attacks by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front on both Ethiopia and Eritrea. He breaks down the history of this conflict, key players, the United States role, and the implications this may have for the entire Horn of Africa if there is not diplomatic intervention soon.

The whole Global Smackdown for Monday, Nov. 16, is available via Zoom here.

Where in the world are we?

Google Map featuring Ethiopia and Eritrea


Global Smackdown: Sudan

“This is part of a larger resorting in the Middle East and the emergence of Iran and Saudi Arabia as these regional powers.”

This week’s Global Smackdown adds to the larger conflict going on in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Dr. Tim Horner looks at the recent developments in a normalization deal between Sudan and Israel and then breaks down the underlying Sudanese political tension, the United State’s stakes, and how the deal plays into the bigger regional picture. 

The whole Global Smackdown from Monday, Oct. 26, is available via Zoom here.

Where in the world are we?

map showing the location of Sudan


Global Smackdown: Nagorno-Karabakh

“This really goes back to old political divisions that were never really worked out from 1990, as well as old grudges going back to the Armenian Genocide.”

This week on the Global Smackdown Dr. Horner looks at the newest development in the dispute over the Nagomo-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He discusses the history of the conflict, as well as some of the other key international players that have influence. Find the full smackdown HERE.

Where in the world are we?


Global Smackdown Wrap-Up: Iran

“[The statement made by Iran] also has to do with the UN Security Council and the shifting power dynamics within the UN Security Council.”

This week Dr. Tim Horner takes the time to talk about Iran and the Iran nuclear deal. The recent developments from the UN general assembly reveal the growing tension between Iran and the United States, as well as the United States’s changing standing in the world. Dr. Horner also touches on how Iran has been getting around some of the sanctions through help of other key, powerful countries.

Click here to view the video.

Where in the world are we?


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Last Modified: October 1, 2020

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