7 October 2022

Just How Long Should the US Send Aid to Ukraine?


It is fair to ask how long the United States should provide large-scale military support to Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion in February, Washington has committed more than $16.8 billion in security assistance. The Biden administration has pledged to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and is taking steps to provide longer-term assistance.

U.S. taxpayers, however, are facing high inflation and the prospect of further economic contraction. The United States also has a poor record of recent military aid. Despite more than $80 billion of U.S. support over two decades, Afghanistan’s forces collapsed as the Taliban swept into Kabul last year. Should future U.S. assistance be measured in months, or at most a few years, especially if Ukraine is no longer in danger of being overrun by Russia?

The short answer is no. If the United States provides long-term assistance—likely for more than 10 years, not only could Ukraine secure its future against a revanchist Russia, Washington could gain a first-rate military partner. Because of its legitimate government, capable leaders, level of socio-economic development, highly motivated public, and combat experience, among other factors, Ukraine has a strong foundation on which to build. As a result, U.S. support could have an exponential impact on Ukrainian military capabilities. The United States would be a major beneficiary, allowing U.S. forces to focus on potential conflicts outside of Europe over the coming years.

Army Command Post Programs Face Pivotal Year

Josh Luckenbaugh

After years of work to make the Army’s mobile command posts more survivable, service leaders say they are on track to field two major updates to their systems during fiscal year 2023.

Army leaders first became concerned about the survivability of command posts operating close to battle zones when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. During that conflict, Russian forces were able to quickly find and destroy Ukrainian command posts by using a combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic signature detection.

Since then, the service has focused on two projects to make command posts more mobile and survivable.

The Command Post Computing Environment, or CPCE, aims to modernize the internal computing environment. The first version of the new system is already in a number of soldiers’ hands, the Army said.

Ukraine’s Tank: How The T-64 Tank Became An Icon Of Resistance To Putin

Sebastien Roblin

The T-64 tank was developed and built in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv during the 1960s. It was a Soviet super tank pioneering a variety of unprecedented technologies, including an autoloading 125mm main gun, a smaller three man-crew, sophisticated composite armor, and the capability to fire anti-tank missiles from its main gun.

The secrecy-shrouded T-64 outmatched most NATO tanks In the 1960s and 70s. However, the costly design was never exported outside the Soviet Union, which instead incorporated its innovations into the cheaper T-72 tank. You can read more about its Soviet origins and technical innovations in this companion piece.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Kyiv inherited 2,300 T-64s. It decided to keep only its latest T-64B tanks in service, and it put T-72 and T-80s into storage for eventual sale abroad.

Why Russia and China Aren’t Intervening in Central Asia

Asel Doolotkeldieva and Erica Marat

Last month, soldiers from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan exchanged gunfire along several points of the countries’ undemarcated border. After a brief cease-fire, fierce fighting resumed and escalated from border areas into the territory of Kyrgyzstan, hitting remote areas of Osh province. Tajikistan’s military destroyed a bridge crossing the Ak-Suu River, residential areas, and businesses. The Tajik military then occupied and erected a flag on a public school in Dostuk village in Batken province. Kyrgyzstan shelled Tajikistan’s border areas well.

The conflict was among the most serious interstate military escalations in Central Asia’s history since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. On the Kyrgyz side, at least 62 civilians and military officers died, 198 were wounded, and roughly 136,000 were internally displaced. The Tajik authorities officially confirmed 41 dead among civilians and military personnel. The Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned Tajikistan for committing an act of war and claimed that the aggression was premeditated and prepared. The Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs blamed Kyrgyzstan for aggression and violation of norms of international humanitarian law.

The Downside of Imperial Collapse When Empires or Great Powers Fall, Chaos and War Rise

Robert D. Kaplan

Wars are historical hinges. And misbegotten wars, when serving as culmination points of more general national decline, can be fatal. This is particularly true for empires. The Habsburg empire, which ruled over central Europe for hundreds of years, might have lingered despite decades of decay were it not for its defeat in World War I. The same is true of the Ottoman Empire, which since the mid-nineteenth century was referred to as “the sick man of Europe.” As it happened, the Ottoman Empire, like the Habsburg one, might have struggled on for decades, and even re-formed, were it not for also being on the losing side in World War I.

But the aftershocks of such imperial comeuppance should never be underestimated or celebrated. Empires form out of chaos, and imperial collapse often leaves chaos in its wake. The more monoethnic states that arose from the ashes of the multiethnic Habsburg and Ottoman empires often proved to be radical and unstable. This is because ethnic and sectarian groups and their particular grievances, which had been assuaged under common imperial umbrellas, were suddenly on their own and pitted against one another. Nazism, and fascism in general, influenced murderous states and factions in the post-Habsburg and post-Ottoman Balkans, as well as Arab intellectuals studying in Europe who brought these ideas back to their newly independent postcolonial homelands, where they helped shape the disastrous ideology of Baathism. Winston Churchill speculated at the end of World War II that had the imperial monarchies in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere not been swept away at the peace table in Versailles, “there would have been no Hitler.”

The coming transatlantic rift over Ukraine

Jeremy Shapiro

Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas enthusiastically joined the general outrage when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. He took to Twitter immediately to condemn the attack as “the greatest breach of peace in Europe in nearly 80 years”. He went on a trip to Germany and the Polish-Ukrainian border in March to visit US troops and observe the humanitarian operations there. On his return, the Republican senator implored President Joe Biden to “get them the damn weapons”, while praising the contributions of Poland and Germany to the Ukrainian war effort as “heroic” and “ground-shaking”.

But just a few weeks later, his outrage had apparently faded. He was one of 11 senators to vote against the Biden administration’s proposed $40 billion aid package to Ukraine. In explaining his vote, Marshall noted that “our NATO allies’ contributions have dropped off significantly, turning this essentially into a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia.” In the House, Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee wondered why the United States would send “$40 billion to Ukraine, and we can’t get baby formula? It’s time for Europe to step up.” A growing chorus of leading figures began to ask: if the rich Europeans are not going to adequately fund a war on the European continent, why should America do it?

The Eco Smart City: Can We Catch Two Rabbits at Once?

Sang Keon Lee



The eco smart city project is an attempt to catch two rabbits—carbon neutrality and the fourth industrial revolution—at once in the urban space. The project aims to combine the two policies that have been promoted separately in South Korea: the eco city policy in response to the new climate regime and the smart city policy for securing competitiveness in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. It attempts to generate synergy by transforming the conflicting paradigms into a complementary relationship between the two approaches. The ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create green jobs by applying the technological innovation of smart cities to the climate crisis response.


The eco smart city project is expected to contribute to the realization of the 2050 carbon-neutral society declared by the South Korean government. To this end, cross-ministerial governance is important for the integrated promotion of the related projects of each ministry and the efficient use of the budget.

Gray Dragons: Assessing China’s Senior Military Leadership

Joel Wuthnow

Executive Summary

This report analyzes more than 300 biographies of senior Chinese military officers from 2015 and 2021 to assess the composition, demographics, and career patterns of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) leadership. Key findings include the following points.The PLA is a conservative institution whose leaders waited their turn and achieved success in their services, and who have similar personal backgrounds.Average senior PLA officers rose patiently through the ranks over the course of careers spanning more than four decades; there were few opportunities for “fast burners” to achieve quicker success. Central Military Committee (CMC) Chairman Xi Jinping has not skipped over a generation of people who had waited their turn to promote young Turks more familiar with modern conflict.
The surest paths to success were in senior service positions. Joint experience was not common—the PLA has not implemented its own version of the U.S. Goldwater- Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 mandate that officers become joint duty qualified.

Senior officers were homogenous in terms of age, education, gender, and ethnicity. Xi has not looked to a broader pool of talent to fill the senior ranks.

Russia’s Operations in Ukraine: A Conversation with ASD Celeste Wallander

Emily Harding: Hi. I’m Emily Harding, deputy director and senior fellow of the CSIS International Security Program. I am thrilled to welcome you all to this very timely Smart Women, Smart Power discussion on Russia’s operations in Ukraine, with Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander.

We have all watched Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion unfold with a mix of horror and resolve. Ukraine’s defense of its land has proven that determination and bravery, and a little help from friends, can stop in his tracks a bully who aims for nothing short of renewed empire. Women have played a critical role in all aspects of this conflict. Women picked up rifles alongside their brothers and husbands. Women protected families through shelling and made arduous journeys to safety. The first lady of Ukraine has been a constant and steady voice for her people to the outside world.

We are here today with another woman who is playing a critical role in this conflict. Celeste Wallander serves as the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. This is just her latest position in a long career of government service. During the Obama administration, she was special assistant to the president and senior director for Russia, Central Asia on the National Security Council. She served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. And then immediately before rejoining government this time around, she served as the president and CEO of the U.S.-Russia Foundation. We are thrilled to have her here today.

Lebanon's Freefall

Jon Alterman: Dr. Sami Atallah is the founding director of The Policy Initiative. Before he founded The Policy Initiative in Beirut in 2021, he worked as the director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies from 2011 to 2020. Sami, welcome to Babel.

Sami Atallah: Thank you so much for the invitation.

Jon Alterman: Lebanon has been in a financial crisis for more than three years. How did that happen?

Sami Atallah: This has deep roots—all the way back to the end of the civil war in the 1990s. The political elite who took power after the political settlement—the Taif agreement—planted the seeds of the financial crisis along three levels. The first one is that when they were running the government, they had a public deficit in the budget—which effectively meant that for many years, they were spending way more money than the government was able to collect. Once you have that deficit, you need to borrow to cover it. They also ran a trade deficit, which means that Lebanon was importing way more than it was exporting. That means that you’re sending more of your scarce dollars outside the country than you're able to bring into the country. Those two deficits will force any country to attract capital from abroad to cover its debts. The Lebanese government had to do that for many years, and by doing that, they accumulated a lot of debt that became unsustainable to finance. The crisis blew up in the summer of 2019, when the Lebanese lira—which was fixed at 1507 lira to the dollar—broke free from that exchange rate. The revolution that took place in 2019 erupted because Lebanese governments and the ruling political parties failed to resolve the chronic problems we had been seeing since 1997. We saw how this would not bode well for Lebanon, but they were able to kick the can down the road and avoid reforms.

‘Persistent Modernization’ Is Building the Army of the Future

Kris Osborn

For decades, the Army has been working intensely to “network” the force in real time across domains. This effort goes back to the services’ Future Combat Systems program in the early 2000s and subsequent attempts to generate interoperability through the Joint Tactical Radio Systems software programmable radio technology. There were strides forward and even some breakthroughs, yet the ability to truly network the force in real time and quickly link sensors to shooters never quite materialized—until now.

In the last several years, the Army has demonstrated breakthrough ways of using artificial intelligence-enabled computers to massively shorten the sensor-to-shooter time and essentially attack “at the speed of warfare.” Some of these breakthroughs began to take shape during the Army’s Project Convergence in 2020. Mini-drones, larger unmanned systems, helicopters, and ground combat vehicles are now increasingly able to operate as data-sharing “nodes” across a joint force, largely due to breakthroughs in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analysis, as well as the successful use of gateway systems to connect data from otherwise incompatible transport layer technologies. While there is no question that current progress builds upon and has been informed by previous efforts, there have also clearly been paradigm-changing advancements.

What changed? Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, the chief innovation officer for Army Futures Command, described the shift to the National Interest as a movement toward “persistent modernization.”

Will the Army Turn Artificial Intelligence Against Its Enemies?

Kris Osborn

Beyond the visible ways in which new technologies are changing the nature of conflict, there is a less obvious, yet equally impactful, conceptual and doctrinal shift taking place.

Newer technologies such as long-range sensors, unmanned systems, precision-guided weapons, multidomain networking, and artificial intelligence-enabled information processing are leading Army weapons developers, futurists, and researchers to explore how technological change generates a need to adjust maneuver formations. The advent of paradigm-changing technologies is driving the Army to author a new doctrine to address challenges expected to emerge in future wars.

The famous Cold War-era Air-Land Battle doctrine is being replaced by modern concepts of combined arms maneuver driven by the use of drones, manned-unmanned teaming, a dispersed battlefield, and unprecedented multidomain connectivity.

Ukraine Puts Russia on the Defensive in Annexed Kherson

Mark Episkopos

Kremlin officials confirmed on Monday that Ukrainian troops have captured several points on the southern Kherson region’s outskirts. “With numerically superior tank units in the direction of Zolota Balka and Oleksandrivka, the enemy managed to forge deep into our defenses,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said during a briefing, adding that the Russian military was able to “inflict massive fire damage” on the advancing Ukrainian forces. Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed head of Kherson, told reporters on Monday that the Ukrainian military has taken control of Dudchany, a settlement on the Dnieper river that sits about thirty miles south from where the front lines were a day earlier.

Still, Russian and local Russian-aligned officials have rejected claims of sustained Ukrainian battlefield success in the Kherson region. "They made a breakthrough attempt and moved forward along the Dnieper. All these attempts are being crushed and the enemy’s forces are being bombarded. They moved forward and were destroyed there. They only managed to make photos. That was the end of it and there is no further advance," Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of Kherson’s military-civilian administration, told Russian media, according to state news outlet TASS.

Zero Trust Architecture Rises Across Industries

Meredith Roaten

Government agencies and businesses around the world are moving rapidly to adopt the cybersecurity practice zero trust, a change from just a few years ago, according to a new report.

Information technology company Okta recently released its annual global snapshot of zero trust implementation across industries and found that 72 percent of government organizations surveyed were already employing zero trust methods.

Across all industries, including healthcare and software, 55 percent of companies said they had zero trust initiatives, which is more than double the amount in the previous year’s survey.

Okta surveyed 700 security decision makers across “many” organizations and companies internationally for the report “The State of Zero Trust Security 2022.”

The Crimea Question

Seth Cropsey

Russia’s Black Sea position has Eurasian strategic significance because the Ukraine War is a Eurasian War, not a European one. As the balance shifts against Russia, escalation becomes more probable, and as the Indo-Pacific balance of forces shifts, U.S. policymakers must consider the facts. Ejecting Russia from Crimea should be an American policy goal: all other territorial objectives are relative to the battlefield situation and the imperative of political prudence.

The Ukraine War looks to be a European war. It is in fact a conflict for strategic control of what will now be termed the “Eurasian Nexus.” This term is far more strategically relevant than typical discussions of the global economic center of gravity, which should be located somewhere in Central Asia at this point. Rather, it points to the confluence of trade routes and lines of communication that link Eurasia’s two halves. Hence the Eurasian relevance of Russia’s position in the Black Sea.

The Kremlin has been a reactive power over the past two decades. It sparked escalating tensions in 2008, but only grabbed what it could during the Georgia War, terminating the conflict after under two weeks. It pushed too hard in 2013, sparking Euromaidan by demanding Ukrainian President Yanukovych completely cut ties with the EU and embrace the EEU. He again grabbed what he could in 2014 but was unable to do more than snatch Crimea and part of the Donbas. Today, Putin remains locked in his ruinous war of conquest for the same reactive reasons: an improving Ukrainian military, combined with a variety of post-imperial analytical delusions, motivated the invasion.

Russian Nuclear Targeting

Mark B. Schneider

Russian nuclear targeting reflects both doctrine and capabilities. Russia has the lowest nuclear weapons use threshold of the major nuclear weapons states. President Vladimir Putin’s June 2020 directive on nuclear deterrence described six circumstances for nuclear weapons use:In paragraph 4, nuclear deterrence is linked to threats to Russian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In paragraph 19, nuclear first use is specifically linked to launch under any type of ballistic missile attack, in response to nuclear attack or to attack by weapons of mass destruction, in response to kinetic or non-kinetic attack on Russian nuclear forces and command and control, and conventional attack that threatens the existence of the state.

This list is clearly incomplete. For example, in 2014, retired former Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Secretary of Russia’s National Security Council General of the Army Yuriy Baluevskiy said the “…conditions for pre-emptive nuclear strikes…is contained in classified policy documents.”[1]

On Clay Feet: Political Bonhomie Won’t Save India-Russia Trade

Krzysztof Iwanek

Many commentaries about New Delhi’s position on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have rightly focused on two factors: (1) India’s dependence on Russian military products and, less commonly, (2) India’s dependence on energy cooperation with Russia. The most significant aspect of their collaboration in the field of energy is the assistance that the Russians are offering to Indians in constructing nuclear reactors. However, over the past several months, a new side to this energy cooperation has been New Delhi’s growing purchases of Russian oil.

And yet, in this piece, I would argue that overall Indo-Russian trade stands on clay feet. Rather than being a deep and wide dependence and an economic anchor to political relations, this bilateral exchange is more a shadow of the Cold War past and a testament to the narrow offerings of the Russian economy. While at the moment we tend to focus on New Delhi’s political refusal to condemn Moscow, in purely economic terms it is clear that India is attracted to markets beyond Russia.

Sri Lanka’s IMF Saga

Soumya Bhowmick

The ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka is one of the worst that the world has seen in recent times. The island nation has an unprecedented inflation rate reaching as high as 69.8 percent in September 2022.

Sri Lanka has been facing a host of macroeconomic issues, which eventually snowballed into a humanitarian disaster in early 2022. Several mismanaged political moves – such as the election-induced tax cuts in 2019 or the sudden switch to organic farming in 2021 – combined with the repeated use of external credit to mitigate Balance of Payments (BOP) crises and the COVID-induced downfall of the tourism sector combined to result in today’s massive crisis. The long lines at fuel stations across the country, civil protests ousting first the sitting prime minister and then the president, and the unavailability of necessary commodities like medicines and milk powder give a mere glimpse into the tremendous economic mess the country has run into.

Against this background, while countries such as India, Bangladesh, Japan and China have provided financial assistance and other aid to Sri Lanka in the last few months, the island nation was able to reach a preliminary agreement with the IMF for a 48-month Extended Fund Facility (EEF) of $2.9 billion. The IMF loan is intended to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, to unlock the growth potential in the economy. While safeguarding Sri Lanka’s financial stability and stepping up the structural reforms that are crucial to address corruption issues in the country, the IMF facility also aims to aid the poor and vulnerable, who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.

Will the Mekong River Really Become the Next South China Sea?

Sebastian Strangio

In recent years, the fate of Southeast Asia’s great river – the Mekong – has attracted growing international scrutiny. The Mekong faces many challenges, from the impacts of climate change and saline encroachment in its delta, to dam developments on the headwaters of the river inside China. All of these concerns have been magnified by the intensifying strategic competition between the United States and China, which has imbued the question of the Mekong’s future with a strategic undercurrent.

Ming Li Yong, a fellow at the East-West Center who has researched transboundary water governance and hydropower development in the Mekong River Basin, spoke to The Diplomat about comparisons between the Mekong and the South China Sea, the impacts and implications of China’s upstream hydropower development, and the future of transboundary governance of the river and its resources.

In recent times, it has become fashionable to compare the Mekong River to the South China Sea, as a potential strategic flashpoint between China and its various rivals and adversaries. Do you see this a valid comparison?

Ukraine’s army makes a mockery of Vladimir Putin’s annexation

Lawrence Freedman

Even by his own standards Vladimir Putin’s speech on 30 September in the Kremlin was unhinged. He ranted about the West, denouncing it in lurid terms for a range of evils, from imperialism to Satanism. It seemed, as the analyst Mark Galeotti observed, that he was trying to convince himself as much as the outside world about this grand civilisational struggle with the West. The rant had a purpose, which was to demonstrate the irrelevance of legality. The annexation of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – now to join Crimea as part of the Russian Federation – goes directly against the Charter of the United Nations. Instead of this being acknowledged as a foundational document of international law, it was wrapped up in a denunciation of the West’s claims about a “rules-based international order”, which only reflected their selfish and malevolent interests. Russia was under no obligation to follow those rules. If it wanted to expand its borders, it was fully entitled to do so.

Ever since the Kosovo War in 1998-99, and Nato’s use of the principle of self-determination and reports of atrocities to justify their support of the Kosovar Albanians, Putin has employed this same combination of claims to rationalise his violations of the sovereignty of neighbouring countries. Hence the contrived processes of sham referendums and fake claims of Ukrainian terrorism.

Putin’s New Nuclear Blackmail


ATLANTA – Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of Russia’s armed forces – supposedly a draft of 300,000 reservists, though there are reports that the draft will ensnare 1.2 million people. Upon hearing the news, I called a friend in St. Petersburg, who, through tears, explained to me that her 30-year-old son would rather go to jail than fight in Ukraine, the country where his Jewish-Ukrainian grandmother is buried. He now works remotely, for fear of being caught in the streets.

It was the second time I had ever heard my friend cry. The first time was on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine.

My friend’s story is not unique. Across Russia, people who once viewed politics as distant and abstract are now acutely aware of – and often distraught by – political developments. But not all potential draftees are reacting to the mobilization – or “mogilization,” in current Russian parlance (mogila means “tomb”) – like my friend’s son. In fact, anyone hoping that popular resistance will thwart the mobilization is likely to be disappointed.

France and Britain are brothers in despair

Since Brexit, Britain and France appear to have drifted apart. Leaders from both countries have engaged in an on-off war of words. But despite these political fractures, Britain and France have actually come to resemble each other more closely than ever. It is now difficult to differentiate the economic, financial, social and political conditions that exist on both sides of the Channel.

France and Britain face a wave of strikes over the coming months. After a lull over the summer, Gallic workers are once again walking out: public sector and railway worker unions staged a national strike for wage increases last week. Even moderate unions are now threatening mass stoppages if Macron continues his labour reforms. Meanwhile, in Britain, months of cost of living strikes across all economic sectors has aligned the UK with French habits. These walkouts could become increasingly political like France’s when the Truss government attempts to implement its proposed trade union and strike reform.

Politically, Macron’s minority government is forced to negotiate each legislative bill in the teeth of vociferous party opposition. But his last term is steeling him to implement those labour reforms reiterated in his recent election manifesto. His great fear is becoming a lame duck president like Jacques Chirac’s second term after 1995. Chirac notoriously dissolved parliament in 1997 hoping to win a larger majority only to be saddled with a socialist cohabitation. Last week, Macron said he would dissolve parliament if his pension reform bill faces a parliamentary censure motion, as threatened by opposition parties. Marine Le Pen welcomed the news gleefully; ‘chiche’ (‘bring it on’), she said. Le Pen calculates that elections could boost her 89 députés and force Macron to call on her as prime minister.
Macron's great fear is becoming a lame duck president like Jacques Chirac

Germany’s Zeitenwende: Too Little, Too Late?

Eltaj Rajabov

In Europe the end of the Cold War ushered in a new era marked by absence of Realpolitik. The mere idea of war on the continent suddenly became unimaginable and the concept of military power slipped into oblivion for many European countries. Europeans soon became convinced that peace would persist and any efforts against stability would be hindered by the economic interdependence amongst states. Although they were proven wrong on multiple occasions (most remarkably in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014), they were yet not willing to accept the fact that their theory of interdependence does not hold and that military power is still of paramount importance in world politics. This was soon to change with the full-fledged war Russia would start in Ukraine on February 24. With war on their footstep, European countries were forced to come to terms with the reality that they needed military capabilities and alliances to ensure their safety. In line with this radical shift in European mindset, Finland and Sweden sought NATO membership after decades long neutrality, and the matter of neutrality also became a controversial issue in other EU countries not party to NATO.

Being a leading economic and political power in Europe, Germany was also strongly influenced by these developments and had to adjust its ‘old belief system’ to the new realities on the ground. Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, did not wait long before calling the start of war in Ukraine “Zeitenwende” (a watershed moment) in his ‘revolutionary’ speech. Indeed, the Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a turning point not only for German politics but also for the public opinion in the country. Following the invasion almost a half of the population changed their opinion in favour of increasing defence spending to 2 percent of GDP. This alone stands to show how dramatically threat perceptions of Germany had changed within a few days, necessitating the formulation of new German foreign and defence policy.

Finland Will Bolster NATO’s Northeastern Flank

Matti Pesu Samu Paukkunen

Russia’s February 2022 assault on Ukraine forced Finland to reassess the foundations of its security doctrine, resulting in Helsinki’s bid to join NATO. After brief hesitation, a surprised Sweden followed its closest partner. The Nordic duo has received exceptional bipartisan support in the United States. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, called their accession “a slam dunk” for American security. The view was overwhelmingly shared in the Senate, which voted 95-1 to add Finland and Sweden to NATO. America’s allies have also welcomed their membership ambitions. By early October, twenty-eight of NATO’s thirty member states had ratified their entry into the transatlantic alliance.

Despite their close ties and many similarities, Helsinki and Stockholm will not be identical twins in NATO. Rather, their aims and interests once in the alliance will reflect their different strategic cultures and, more importantly, their dissimilar geostrategic locations. Whereas Sweden will be a crucial springboard for possible NATO operations in Northern Europe, including the Baltic Sea, Finland will be a frontline state, situated in the vicinity not only of St. Petersburg but also of the Kola Peninsula—home to Russia’s Northern fleet, and, more crucially, it’s nuclear second-strike capability.

If Putin Nukes Ukraine, Russia Could Win the War

Dan Goure

Having failed in his initial effort to achieve a coup de main against Ukraine and his subsequent campaign to occupy territory in the east and south of that country, Russian president Vladimir Putin has figured out a way of winning by appearing to lose. His recent moves, announcing a partial mobilization and undertaking referenda in the occupied territories on their joining Russia, are precursors to the use of nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

If Ukrainian troops, armed with an array of Western weapons, continue their counteroffensive, they will pose a threat to the Russian homeland in the form of its newly acquired territories. Putin will respond by doing what he has repeatedly warned he would do: employ nuclear weapons. Whether such a use is against a target in Ukraine or just a demonstration shot, the effects would be the same. Such a move would undoubtedly undermine Western support for Kyiv, given that the United States and NATO are virtually certain not to respond in kind. It could also lead to the collapse of the NATO alliance. In essence, Putin might win by losing.