March 09th 2022

Focus on Ukraine – a challenge for Europe.

In a conversation with MCI Rector Andreas Altmann, Gerhard Mangott discusses current events in Ukraine, and how Putin sees the West, Russian foreign policy and the role of China.




Putin's "rejection of the West"

Mangott attributes the current developments and the drastic change in Russia's behavior to several factors. According to the expert, foreign policy decisions by the West and specific historical events, such as the eastward expansion of NATO or the collapse of the Soviet Union, play a key role. In addition, the U.S.'s pushback against Russia is also a factor, which has further strengthened the push for a more aggressive foreign policy. Although there was once an authentic expectation of cooperation with the West, according to Mangott, Putin is now "almost consumed by mistrust and rejection of the West."

Russia's foreign policy "goes far beyond Putin"

Putin has clearly stated his goals and will do whatever it takes to achieve them. Even if Ukraine complied with all of Russia's demands, Mangott cannot outrule the possibility that new aggressive demands would follow, as he attributes to Putin a "pathological obsession" with bringing Slavic peoples together into a common world. However, one thing is clear to Mangott: Giving in now would mean admitting defeat in war with Russia - "completely impossible for the current Russian leadership." Nevertheless, Mangott is critical of pinning down Russia's foreign policy behavior solely to Putin, because "the consensus to pursue such a foreign policy is far greater" and "goes far beyond Putin."

Unity – “strongest trump card of the West"

Europe and the United States have been quick and consistent in imposing sanctions on Russia, which Mangott believes will not only weaken the Russian economy for decades to come. "The West's sanctions no longer serve the desired goal of changing Russia’s behavior; I don't think anyone believes in that, but rather punishment and, in the medium term, the hope of a regime change in Moscow."

Moreover, the West is providing both humanitarian and financial support to Ukraine and has already signaled its support for possible insurgencies within Ukraine. Mangott does not expect NATO soldiers to oppose Russian troops in Ukraine. He also sees a high probability of nuclear escalation if NATO interferes. “Consens” and "unity" remain the West's "strongest trump card."

China – the "big winner"

For Mangott, China is the big geopolitical winner in the current disputes. On the one hand, harsh economic sanctions on Russia have made the country increasingly reliant on China, both technologically and financially. On the other hand, the U.S. can no longer focus on its rivalry with China because, among other things, it acts as a security guarantor for Europe. Nevertheless, the situation is uncomfortable for China as it pursues economic interests in Ukraine. However, according to Mangott's assessment, there will not be a rift between Russia and China.

Gerhard Mangott, Professor of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck | Expert on Eastern Europe, Russia

Gerhard Mangott is an Austrian political scientist and professor of international relations at the University of Innsbruck, specializing in Eastern Europe and Russia.

From 1984 to 1989 he devoted himself to the study of political science, history and Slavic studies at the University of Innsbruck and at the University of Salzburg. In 1989, he received a master's degree in philosophy in political science. In 2001, he received a doctorate in philosophy in political science with a submitted thesis. Gerhard Mangott was habilitated in 2002 and holds the Venia Docendi of Political Science. On October 1, 2015, he became University Professor of International Relations at the University of Innsbruck. From 1989 to 1991, Gerhard Mangott was a staff member at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Innsbruck in the research project "Social Democracy in the Ghetto. On the Situation of Social Democracy in Western Austria" on behalf of the Dr. Karl Renner Institute in Vienna. From 1991 to 2008 he worked as a consultant on Russia and Eastern Europe at the Austrian Institute for International Politics (OIIP) in Laxenburg and in Vienna. Since July 1, 2000, Gerhard Mangott has been working at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Innsbruck. Since March 1, 2003, he has been an associate professor of political science at the University of Innsbruck.

Gerhard Mangott is an expert in the field of regime theory of Russia and Ukraine, arms control and proliferation, and energy security of the European Union in the oil and gas sectors. Since 2009, Gerhard Mangott is also Scientific Adviser on Post-Soviet Affairs at OIIP in Vienna. Gerhard Mangott is a reviewer for the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ERSC), the Volkswagen Foundation, the Jubilee Fund of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), the Swiss National Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research, and various scientific journals.

Mangott became known to a wide audience as an ORF expert on Russian and Eastern European politics. Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, Mangott has been a frequent guest on ORF news programs.