Fall 2022 - POL 349 D200

Selected Topics in International Relations (4)


Class Number: 6792

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    WMC 3510, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in Political Science or permission of the department.



Selected Topic - Russia, NATO, and the War in Ukraine

Course Description:

Vladimir Putin, a liberator or a conqueror of Ukraine? Since 2014, Russia has claimed that in Ukraine it’s protecting Russians against the “Nazi genocide,” and that it seeks to defend itself against NATO encroachment. So, is the Russian Goliath in Ukraine to defend itself, or for something far more sinister – to expand its empire?  Russian elites for generations have shared Putin’s sentiment that Ukraine actually never had stable traditions of real statehood. [That it] was entirely created by Russia…[and that] It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space.” Will the War in Ukraine end in Russia’s defeat or will Ukraine be “encouraged” to surrender even more territories to Russia?

In this course, as we explore Russia’s foreign and security policies in the post-Cold War era, we will learn that the War in Ukraine was 30 years in the making.  That it was not Russia’s first, nor perhaps Russia’s last war in the former Soviet space. Over the course of the semester, we will study the general principles that guide Russia’s foreign and security policies (e.g., geopolitics, nationalism, great power status, security strategy). We will examine the role Russia plays in its key spheres of influence (former Soviet republics, and the Balkans). We will analyze how NATO’s enlargement and interventions, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, have shaped Putin’s understanding of threats and opportunities to Russia and Russian strategies to countering NATO. We will conclude the course by evaluating various scenarios for the end of War in Ukraine, and what Russia’s invasion means for NATO/European security.



  • Case Study Analysis 25%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Policy Brief 20%
  • Discussion 25%



No textbook required. Various book chapters and policy papers will be uploaded to Canvas.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html