An Eastern European expert examines the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — It has been a week since Russian troops invaded Ukraine, leaving 1 million people to flee the country to seek refuge, according to the United Nations.

An expert on Eastern European politics and military strategy predicts it could be Europe’s biggest war since World War II.

“There were dozens of ways to address Russia’s concerns and avoid conflict,” said Georgia Southern University professor Dr. Jacek Lubecki. “And Russia has chosen the path of war.”

Lubecki explained that tensions between the two countries have been building up since 2014.

“A Russian-backed, pro-Russian Ukrainian government fell and was replaced by a more pro-Western Ukrainian government,” he said. “The reaction of President Putin of Russia to these events was to invade and annex certain territories of Ukraine, in particular Crimea.”

This time, Putin says the troops are invading to protect the independence of two breakaway republics in Ukraine, Lubecki explained.

Born in Poland, Lubecki’s parents lived through World War II and say it sounds like an eerily similar situation. While war can be fought thousands of miles away, he said the effects will be felt everywhere.

“Global equity markets are shaking and there is growing talk of a global recession, so the economic effects are dramatic, global and cannot be underestimated,” Lubecki said. “We are going to see the biggest refugee crisis in Europe and possibly the world since, I think, the Second World War.”

Lubecki said the conflict is also having an effect on global energy and wheat markets.

As the situation continues to evolve, mental health professionals say watching her from afar can cause secondary traumatic stress. They encourage people to monitor their emotions, limit media consumption, and engage in positive activities.

“It’s absolutely normal to feel sad, feel increased anxiety or stress during this time,” said Phylicia Anderson of the Gateway Community Service Board. “Especially when we see individuals at very unhappy times in their lives where maybe we can’t have a direct impact or do anything about it.”