NATO Daily Evidence

European peace, which is at risk, depends on NATO

Thibault Muzergues, 5=9, 22, Thibault Muzergues is author of War in Europe? From Impossible War to Improbable Peace,

On May 8, 2022, European Union (EU) members and the United States not only celebrated the Allies’ victory over Nazism in Europe, but they also cheered over seventy-seven years of uninterrupted peace in the “Europe that America made”—that is the ensemble of nation-states that regrouped in what came to be known as the European Union, protected by the United States’ military might via NATO. Despite the many wars that have happened since 1945 on the European continent outside of the joint NATO-EU security and politico-economic framework, this unprecedentedly long period of peace in Europe is nothing short of a miracle, considering that Europe’s history prior to World War II had been defined by war—it was, indeed, constant warfare between Europeans that allowed them to perfect the art of war to such an extent that they managed to dominate the world between the 1600s and the late 1800s. Yet, this year’s celebrations were certainly more muted. Today, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine threatens the peace that Europeans—and in particular Western Europeans—have enjoyed for so long. The images of the war crimes committed in Bucha, Irpin, and other Ukrainian towns, the vicious war of attrition that is now being waved in the Donbas—all these elements have brought back memories of past conflicts of the twentieth century, and they are proof that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, high-intensity warfare has returned to the European continent. It would be a mistake to think that war itself will necessarily be contained to the Donbas, or even Ukraine for that matter. The history of conflict shows us that when a stalemate is reached between two parties and they still do not agree on the balance of powers, war not only continues, but belligerents seek new fronts to gain a military advantage. Although it remains at this stage unlikely that Russia would dare to attack a NATO member directly, it could certainly try to spill the war over to neighboring Moldova (which is not part of NATO), and it has sent signals recently that it could indeed; it could also encourage client, sub-state actors, including inside NATO-members like Montenegro to impose war in the Western Balkans and thus divert resources from the front in Ukraine. The return of war in Europe in its crudest form has shocked us all. But yet none of what is happening now should come as a surprise to any of us: ever since the short Transnistria war of 1992, the Russian military has made it clear that it was ready to go to war to avenge the humiliation of the Soviet Union’s breakup, and it was also clear since Vladimir Putin’s ascension to power that they had found in the former KGB spy a head of state they could trust. Ever since the oil bonanza of the 2000s, when Russia started modernizing its army and updating its military strategy with hybrid elements such as cyber, economic, and informational warfare in its doctrine, we should have been aware that these new resources could be used on the European continent. There were many warnings: the war in Chechnya, although confined within the borders of the Russian Federation. The 2008 war in Georgia, though, was also clearly away from Russian territory, and so was Russia’s intervention in Syria. It could also legitimately be argued that today’s war in Ukraine did not start in February, but that it is actually the extension of a conflict started with the occupation of Crimea and the Donbas (albeit, in the latter case, by a proxy) since 2014—a war which actually killed 15,000 people before the start of the so-called “special military operation” in February. Putin’s war in Ukraine, however, should not be Europe’s only worry. In fact, the continent is facing an increasing number of threats not only in its neighborhood but also inside its borders. Twenty years ago, in the 2000s, the wars closest to Europe were taking place in places such as Sudan, Iraq, or Afghanistan—with distant Georgia barely reminding Europeans that is could be of concern to them. In the 2010s, war already became a closer reality with Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its propping up of a proxy war in the Donbas, while Libya and Syria descended into civil war, creating migration waves that destabilized European societies. War scenes actually came back to the heart of Europe, albeit in a very limited space and time, when Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and Nice (among others) fell victim to ISIS’s terrorism. Europe then lived under a peculiar war paradox: there were more armed soldiers in uniform patrolling the streets of Paris, capital of a country officially at peace, than there were in the streets of Kyiv, capital of a country that didn’t deny that it was already at war. The first two years of the following decade have confirmed the continued deterioration of Europe’s security architecture: before Russia went to war with Ukraine in February 2022, Greece and Turkey narrowly avoided direct naval confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the summer of 2020, while tensions over Libya came close to boiling point between the French and Turkish navies in the same region and over the same period. Closer to Brussels, the situation in the Western Balkans has never seemed so fragile, as the Dayton agreement that has upheld the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (and beyond, potentially the whole region) is increasingly contested by numerous actors, including some that are members of the EU. EU members are not immune to internal tensions: before the pandemic, France had gone through a particularly violent jacquerie with the Yellow Vest movement; its difficulty to integrate Muslim populations into the republican fold had inspired a number of intellectuals and writers to envisage the possibility of an ethnic civil war inside the country. Meanwhile, Spain has had to deal with a separatist movement in Catalonia that may have been peaceful on the outside but has toxified politics and social relations all over the country. And even outside of the EU, Britain is also not immune to the threat of sectoral violence, as the post-Brexit settlement in Northern Ireland has reignited old grudges, just at the time in which Catholics overtook Protestants as the majority demographic, for the first time in a province that had specifically been created to keep a protestant, and therefore unionist majority. These internal tensions (and many others) may have been temporarily put under a lid during the Covid-19 crisis, as citizens locked themselves up in their homes and governments bailed them out. But they may come back with a vengeance in the coming months and years, in particular, if inflation continues to cripple European economies, some of which were already in a bad shape before the health crisis: in 2020, the GDPs of France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and a few others were actually lower than in 2010. Of course, Russia is betting that this kind of economic and social instability is either going to take Europeans’ attention away from Ukraine, or that they will turn into open warfare so as to give the Kremlin a free hand at least in those Eastern European countries that are not part of NATO. We must today face the reality that Europe is much less safe than it was ten years ago, and as a result, Russia’s current war in Ukraine may not end up being a horrifying exception to peace in Europe, but the prelude to something much nastier. Europeans are of course the first to blame for this: many showed incredible naïveté by believing that pacifism in one continent could be pursued while threats were piling up and getting closer in its own neighborhood. Europeans could and should have been much more prudent in their pursuit of cheap Russian gas, they should have been more straightforward with Turkey about their unwillingness to accept it inside the EU, they should have started to rearm (and fulfill their commitment to spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense), and they should certainly have been more careful about the risks of dealing with China, may that be in terms of elites capture and corrupting influence, but also in terms of security and intellectual property. European leaders should also have been quicker to understand that the adoption of the euro, the rise of Germany as the continent’s sole economic powerhouse, and the enlargement of the EU from fifteen to twenty-eight (now twenty-seven) countries, despite their potential long-term benefits, would also create imbalances that would ultimately increase tensions all over what was still a very new union. Although many of these tensions have been eased by the adoption of the NextGeneration recovery fund which, while massive, did not prop up inflation in the way that the United States, these transfers from Europe’s core in the northwest to the poorer south and east of the union can only work in the long-term if the northern economies continue to grow substantially. And today, Germany’s growth model based on cheap Russian gas, a Chinese market open to its quality products, and a cheap labor force in Central Europe is clearly coming to an end. The blame, however, should not only rest on European shoulders. Of course, the rise of illiberalism across the world has a lot to do with the end of illusions concerning the possibility of building the stable, prosperous world Europeans had bet on, but it is not only Europeans who have been naïve about the continent’s security architecture. Indeed, the United States has taken for granted the stability (and loyalty) of the other pillar of the West for a very long time now. Here, the 2008 financial crisis, which crippled for a long period of time Western states capacity to act inside and outside of their own borders to uphold the peace, served as a turning point. While the rest of the world actively prepared for a post-Western world, the West divided itself: continental Europe blamed “Anglo-Saxon greed” for an economic crisis that was transatlantic in nature, while America took the transatlantic relationship for granted, while blaming Europe’s few commercial successes into the U.S. market and unresponsiveness on security as a free-riding dangerous for American interests. This is forgetting that, for all its successes and its faults, the Europe that the United States is dealing with now is probably the construct that is the most aligned to its security and commercial interests. Indeed, this Europe has been shaped by the United States more than any other continent apart from North America. The idea of a Europe whole, free, and at peace was not only inspired by the U.S. example after World War II, it was articulated as such by President George H.W. Bush in his Mainz speech. This European security architecture—shaped by the affirmation of self-determination following World War I, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the 1945 postwar settlement corrected by the enlargement of the West following the collapse of the USSR—is the Europe that America made. Indeed, should the United States disappear from that security architecture, the future Europe would have a very different shape and form, and one that would be much less favorable to America’s interests. Had Russia’s attack on Hostomel Airport in late February been successful, had the Ukrainian government been decapitated in the half-cooked commando operations Putin had ordered in Kyiv, and Americans would have woken up in a drastically different, much more threatening world, not only in Europe but also in the Persian Gulf and the South China Sea. America continues to have a vested interest in upholding Europe’s security architecture because it serves its interests as well as those of its allies. True, it is not an easy task, and at times it is a frustrating one. But the benefits for the U.S. economy and its security far outweigh the costs. This is why it needs to continue to invest in the continent’s security, and to nurture its relationship with European elites, the other stakeholders in the transatlantic relationship—those have doubted America’s strength and its commitment to European security, and they have at times felt that their American ally did not treat them with respect, which has led some to explore other friendships that seemed at the time more promising, notably with Russia and China. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the only way to have a friend is to be one,” and reinvesting in those relationships, may that be by youth exchanges and leadership programs or by propping up American diplomatic presence in Europe’s capital cities, will be crucial to keep a strong link between both sides of the Atlantic. This is even more so as Europe and the United States will probably continue to diverge culturally in the coming years, for demographic as well as structural reasons. This is not to say, of course, that the United States should not push the Europeans to do more to uphold the transatlantic relationship, in particular to for their own defense. It must be made clear to NATO members that blatant free riding cannot continue and that members must contribute more to their defense. But American elites should also understand that, if they really want Europeans to be able to take care of themselves and uphold the Europe that Americans made, this presupposes that they build a common defense policy inside the European Union, and this, in turn, implies a European pillar of a NATO, as well as some form of strategic autonomy for the EU. Rather than opposing it, the United States should, on the contrary, encourage it, on the condition that this strategic autonomy is built as an autonomy “to do” rather than an autonomy “from.” Americans should be constantly reminded that whenever the going gets tough in international relations, it is not the governments of Europe, nor their concert gathered inside the European Council that is their best ally, but the European Parliament, the closest thing to a federal Congress that Europe can produce. As war has come back in Europe, it is in America’s national interest to continue investing in the security and unity of a continent it has helped shape for more than a century. After all, the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace only took shape under American leadership, and so it seems only right for the United States to defend the Europe America made. It is not only in Europe’s interest but also in the United States’. The vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace only took shape under American leadership, and so it seems only right for the United States to defend the Europe America made.

Russian cyberwarfare will cripple the US politically and economically

Ian Bremmer, 5-5, 22, IAN BREMMER is President and Founder of Eurasia Group., Foreign Affairs, The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up,

A final reason why this new Cold War will prove more dangerous than the last is the growing likelihood that Russia will resort to truly destructive cyberwarfare. Despite the asymmetry between Moscow and Washington in traditional measures of power, Russia’s most sophisticated digital weapons are more destabilizing than the nuclear missiles that threatened the United States and Europe in the 1980s. Cyberweapons can’t instantly kill people, but they remain highly destructive—capable of inflicting serious damage on financial systems, power grids, and other essential infrastructure. Most important, states are far more likely to use cyberweapons than other weapons of mass destruction because they are easier to build, easier to hide, extremely hard to defend against, and nearly impossible to deter.

Washington should take little comfort in the fact that Putin has not yet wielded the most destructive of these weapons. Effective cyberattacks take months, perhaps years, to plan, and the war in Ukraine has only just begun. Just as the United States and Europe responded to the invasion by punishing Russia economically, Moscow can use its cyberweapons to cripple the United States and Europe politically—by targeting upcoming elections with ever-larger and more frequent waves of disinformation.

High risk of Russia-US conflict going nuclear 

Ian Bremmer, 5-5, 22, IAN BREMMER is President and Founder of Eurasia Group., Foreign Affairs, The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up,

In the ten weeks since Russia began its assault on Ukraine, tensions between Russia and Western countries have been greater than at any point since the Cuban missile crisis. U.S. President Joe Biden has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed superpower, of carrying out a “genocide,” called him a “war criminal,” and stated that he “cannot remain in power.” According to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the United States now seeks to “weaken Russia” to the point that it can no longer threaten its neighbors. Liz Truss, the British Foreign Secretary, has called the war in Ukraine “our war.”

Other European leaders have been more cautious in their choice of words but just as clear in their opposition to Russian aggression. “Atrocious. Unbelievable. Shocking,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said after visiting the town of Bucha in early April. The conflict has put EU members on military high alert and dramatically underlined the dangers of European energy dependence on Russia. Complacency about Putin’s willingness to use force and weaponize trade has vanished, as has reluctance to welcome Ukraine into the European Union. NATO has deployed thousands of new troops near Russia’s borders, and the alliance will likely soon add Finland and Sweden to its ranks.

Russian leaders, meanwhile, have dramatically shifted their framing of the war—from a limited “special operation” to “liberate” parts of eastern Ukraine to an all-out existential struggle against NATO. Putin has accused the United States and others of trying to “destroy Russia from within,” and on multiple occasions, Russian leaders have threatened to deploy nuclear weapons against any country that dares intervene in the conflict.

Taken together, these developments constitute a dangerous new reality. Gone are the days when Russia’s war aims consisted solely of “de-Nazifying and demilitarizing” Ukraine. Also gone are the days when U.S. and allied governments limited their involvement to helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Leaders on both sides of the conflict have now crossed a series of lines that cannot easily be uncrossed. The result is a new Cold War between Russia and its opponents—one that promises to be less global than its twentieth-century counterpart but also less stable and predictable….

As the new Cold War heats up, leaders must begin thinking about guardrails—safety measures designed to ensure that this conflict doesn’t escalate into a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. After the nuclear near miss of the Cuban missile crisis, for instance, U.S., European, and Soviet leaders created fail-safe systems—arms control agreements such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and confidence-building measures such as the Open Skies agreements—to ensure that proxy wars around the world didn’t trigger World War III.

Today, however, there is no cyber-equivalent of the INF treaty and no path to negotiate and enforce one. There is also little trust between Russia’s president and Western governments, and it is hard to imagine how (and how long it would take) to build enough confidence to create new rules and institutionsThe UN Security Council is broken beyond repair, and with no realistic alternatives in sight, the best leaders can do is continue communicating frankly and respectfully about potential opportunities to limit the fast-growing damage that the confrontation between Russia and the West can inflict on the world. For now, the international community is left with a war that has no agreed-on mechanisms to limit its expansion.

Still, U.S. and European leaders believe that they can prevent the conflict from spiraling out of control. They continue to impose ever-tougher sanctions, send deadly weapons to Kyiv, share real-time intelligence with Ukraine’s military, encourage further NATO expansion, and talk of Ukraine’s European future. They speak as though their refusal to send NATO troops into Ukrainian territory or impose a no-fly zone in its airspace will truly limit the risk of Russian retaliation. In reality, however, Putin already sees all these steps as acts of war. There is value for the United States and its allies in implementing these policies, and Russia may not yet have the capacity to hit back with much force, but the longer the war continues, the harder it will be for each side to keep the fighting from escalating into a broader conflict.

Even if Putin is persuaded to end this war by casting a small land grab in eastern Ukraine as a historic victory for Russia, there can be no return to the relative stability that existed before February 24. The new Cold War will be open ended: Russia will remain indefinitely saddled with allied sanctions and will have few trade ties with Europe that might encourage restraint. A humiliated Putin is likely to test NATO’s resolve. Russia could, for example, strike allied weapons convoys, training centers, and storage depots in Ukraine. It could conduct limited cyberattacks against U.S. and European civilian infrastructure. It could escalate its disinformation campaigns to subvert upcoming elections in the United States and European countries. It could cut off gas supplies to more European countries and restrict exports of critical commodities. Amid a growing economic crisis, NATO leaders would be under tremendous pressure to respond to these provocations in kind—risking further dangerous escalation.

If Putin loses the Donbas and finds it impossible to declare victory at home, the risks of escalation rise even further. In this scenario, Moscow might consider using chemical weapons to turn the tide or attacking NATO facilities in Poland. U.S. and European leaders could respond by launching direct strikes on Russian assets in Ukraine or enacting a no-fly zone. Washington would step up its sanctions campaign and, in turn, gas would immediately stop flowing to Europe. Both sides would be tempted to conduct destructive cyberattacks on each other’s critical infrastructure. Although still unlikely, the use of nuclear weapons and NATO troop deployments would no longer be unthinkable. Without guardrails, there is no telling where this new logic might lead.

NATO needs to develop grey-zone capabilities that challenge information warfare

Larsen, 5-2, 22, Henrik Larsen, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. He is the author of the book “NATO’s Democratic Retrenchment: Hegemony after the Return of History” (Routledge, 2019), The Hill, NATO’s response to the Putin Doctrine will shape its operations for years to come,

Meanwhile, NATO cannot separate its preparation to withstand Russian aggression from the rise of China. As U.S. military resources are increasingly drawn toward Asia, it falls on the European allies to assume the main responsibility for the defense of their own continent. They will continue to rely on the United States for a reliable command structure, strategic airlift and, not least, nuclear umbrella. They would also greatly benefit from continued access to U.S. intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities. However, enabled by the increase in their defense expenditure following the Russian invasion, it falls on the Europeans to provide the bulk of the ground and tactical air forces, where they can relatively easily strengthen existing capabilities. As NATO builds up its conventional deterrence beyond the summit in Madrid, it will be important that it does not neglect the possibility of grey-zone warfare. Russia will likely be more cautious about trespassing in NATO than non-NATO territory and still prefers to rely on disinformation and subversion to stir ethnic-political discord in the Baltic States as well as special-operation incursions as an initial destabilization strategy — similar to its seizure of Crimea in 2014. NATO needs deterrence across multiple domains of warfare by structuring and training a part of its future forces for grey-zone eventualities that may precede Russia’s application of large-scale kinetic force. The ‘Putin doctrine’ took NATO by surprise. The United States demonstrated impressive intelligence in uncovering Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine, which also sapped Russia’s propaganda effort. However, NATO must get much better at understanding its intentions: The enormous human and economic costs of seizing parts of Ukraine by force seem ludicrous with Western eyes but not from the perspective of Vladimir Putin. NATO allies must now rebuild a Cold War-style intelligence capacity and enhance their strategic thinking about the Kremlin, Russia and the entire post-Soviet space. This will require renewed intellectual investment in think tanks, foreign services, and international institutions in the coming years. Moscow had a sound understanding of the West’s redlines during most of the Cold War. Today, it sees lines rather as an invitation to test its rhetoric and resolve. The West cannot trust Russia as long as Putin remains president and should use NATO as the cornerstone for its containment.

Russian cyber threats increasing

Ines Kagubare, 4-18, 21, US officials ramp up warnings about Russian cyberattacks,

Top U.S. officials are ramping up their warnings about possible Russian cyberattacks on critical infrastructure as the war in Ukraine escalates. In an interview with “60 Minutes” on CBS, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly discussed the threats they’re seeing and the various ways their respective agencies are preparing for potential Russian cyberattacks. “We are seeing Russian state actors scanning, probing, looking for opportunities, looking for weaknesses in our systems on critical infrastructure, on businesses,” Monaco told Bill Whitaker of “60 Minutes.” ADVERTISING “Think of it as a burglar going around trying to jiggle the lock in your house door to see if it’s open, and we’re seeing that,” Monaco said. Easterly, who was also featured in the segment, said her agency is seeing “evolving intelligence” indicating that the Russians are planning for possible cyberattacks and that critical infrastructure should assume there is going to be a breach and prepare accordingly. The warnings are the latest push from government officials urging companies in critical industries to upgrade and strengthen their security systems against cyberattacks. Last month, the White House issued a similar warning following new intelligence suggesting that Russia is exploring “options for potential cyberattacks” against critical infrastructure. In the interview, Easterly said the Russians are particularly interested in targeting the energy and finance sectors, especially following the crippling economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies. Just last week, Ukraine said it successfully thwarted a cyberattack launched by Russian-backed hackers that was intended to damage the country’s power grid. Ukrainian officials said a hacking group tied to Russia’s military intelligence agency was behind the attack. Ever since the invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have been on edge about how Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to retaliate against the West, especially following the economic sanctions. “I think we are dealing with a very dangerous, very sophisticated, very well-resourced cyber actor. And that’s why we’ve been telling everybody consistently, shields up. What does that mean? It means assume there will be disruptive cyber activity and make sure you are prepared for it,” Easterly said responding to a question from Whitaker about how the world should protect itself from Putin. The U.S. Department of Justice has also been actively involved in prosecuting cyber criminals. Judge strikes down CDC mask mandate for travel World Bank reducing growth forecast due to invasion of Ukraine Last week, the department took control of a popular hacking website in a coordinated effort to crack down on illegal cyber activities. The website, RaidForums, was a major online marketplace where cybercriminals bought and sold stolen data that contained personal and financial information. In March, the department charged four Russian nationals accused of having hacked energy sectors in 135 countries, including a foreign oil facility, that caused two separate emergency shutdowns. Prosecutors accused the defendants of installing malware in computer systems of several energy sectors, including nuclear power plants, oil and gas firms, and power transmission companies. “This was historical activity, but it is very much the type of activity that we are warning about today when it comes to Russia’s response, to the world’s response to the horror in Ukraine,” Monaco said, referring to the recent indictment of the alleged Russian hackers.

Need restraint, not primacy; Russia is not a significant threat and won’t take Europe

STEPHEN WERTHEIM is Senior Fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School. He is the author of Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy, April 12, 2022, The Ukraine Temptation Biden Should Resist Calls to Fight a New Cold War

For three decades, U.S. foreign policy has run on inertia and called it strategy. The Cold War had ended, but the United States nonetheless retained its Cold War alliances. The Soviet Union had disappeared, but the absence of a major threat produced much the same prescription as the presence of a major threat had: just as the U.S. military had defended “the free world,” now it would become the guardian of the whole world. When problems appeared, successive administrations generally took them as reasons to expand U.S. deployments. Even if its bid for primacy had created or exacerbated those problems, Washington had the solution: more and better primacy. Now the war in Ukraine is tempting policymakers to repeat that mistake in an exceedingly consequential way. Just when President Joe Biden had been trying to prioritize security in Asia and prosperity for the American middle class, advocates of U.S. primacy are seizing this emotionally charged moment to insist that post–Cold War path dependency prevail. Rather than pivot to Asia, they argue, the United States must now build up its military presence in Europe to contain an assertive Russia, even as it strengthens its Indo-Pacific defenses to contain a rising China. They admit their proposal would cost hundreds of billions of dollars more in defense spending and put U.S. forces on the front lines of two potential great-power wars, but they think the price is worth it. The Biden administration should decline this invitation to wage a risky global cold war. Although the invasion of Ukraine has revealed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to take risks in the pursuit of aggression, it has also exposed the weakness of the Russian military and economy. If anything, the war has strengthened the case for strategic discipline, by offering a chance to encourage Europe to balance against Russia while the United States concentrates on security in Asia and renewal at home. Such a division of labor is fair and sustainable. It would put the United States in the best position to limit the fallout from the war in Ukraine and achieve long-term peace and stability in Europe and beyond. Primacy’s lure is strong in Washington, but a more restrained approach is better. Since Russia’s invasion began, advocates of U.S. primacy have contended that the war demands not only an immediate response from the United States but also an enduring grand-strategic shift. Riding a wave of anti-Russian sentiment, they want the Biden administration to cast aside the new, Asia-centric posture that it had been expected to roll out. “We cannot pretend any longer that a national security focus primarily on China will protect our political, economic and security interests,” wrote former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “As we have seen in Ukraine, a reckless, risk-taking dictator in Russia (or elsewhere) can be every bit as much a challenge to our interests and our security.” To keep the war from expanding, the Biden administration has boosted the number of U.S. troops in Europe to around 100,000—a level not seen in decades. But a bid to restore global military primacy is no more merited today than it was before the invasion. Putin’s gruesome attack has made the Russian threat visceral, but it has not actually increased the threat or produced other compelling evidence for taking on new commitments or missions. Gates appears to confuse a humanitarian calamity with a threat to the United States. As the Biden administration has maintained, vital U.S. security interests are not at stake in Ukraine, and so the United States will not intervene directly against Russian forces. Especially unclear is why Putin or just any “reckless, risk-taking dictator” should be presumed to challenge U.S. interests on a similar magnitude as China, the world’s number two economic and military power. Thinking that way could lead U.S. officials to give up on formulating strategy on the basis of discernable national interests. The United States would find itself policing the world, no matter the stakes. If Russia were to overrun the heartland of Europe, the United States’ security and prosperity would become endangered, since much of the wealthy and populous region would come under Moscow’s control. In the late 1940s, the United States waged the Cold War in part to prevent the Soviet Union from using its formidable resources to conquer noncommunist Europe. In a March article in Foreign Affairs, the scholars Michael Beckley and Hal Brands implicitly resurrected this strategic objective by invoking “the policies that won the Cold War” as a model for what to do today: contain Russia and China simultaneously through U.S. military buildups in both Europe and Asia. By their estimate, this course of action would require boosting defense spending over the next decade from 3.2 percent of GDP to five percent of GDP, making for a 56 percent increase. But it is difficult to discern how Russia could drive far into Europe, even if it tried. Before the invasion, the EU’s economy was roughly five times as large as Russia’s, by the conservative metric of purchasing power parity, and wartime sanctions are set to widen the gap. Taken together, the European members of NATO already outspend Russia on defense, and Europe’s geopolitical awakening will only push them to spend more. And the lackluster performance of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine does not augur well for their prospects against NATO in the near term. For three decades, U.S. foreign policy has run on inertia and called it strategy. Rather than explain how Russia could possibly come to dominate Europe, then, Beckley and Brands adopt an expansive conception of the United States’ interests and responsibilities that would have made George Kennan, the architect of Cold War containment, blush. They would seemingly have the United States go to war to stop any act of “autocratic aggression” in eastern Europe or East Asia, and perhaps wherever else “the international order” might appear to be imperiled. Indeed, as inspiration for their approach, they draw on NSC-68, the strategic document of 1950 that called for limitless anticommunist crusades and exorbitant military spending. As the historian John Lewis Gaddis has put it, NSC-68 “found in the simple presence of a Soviet threat sufficient cause to deem the interest threatened vital.” In other words, NSC-68 had the United States assume vast costs and risks without reference to the country’s safety and well-being; it severed the link between U.S. policy and U.S. interests. It should not be a template for our time. The call for a cold war against China and Russia would have Americans take on enormous burdens not because specific U.S. interests require it but because U.S. primacy does. No longer able to maintain global military dominance at the current level of exertion, the United States is now supposed to plow ever-greater resources into the endeavor. Perhaps the country could get away with strategic excesses in the 1950s, when it accounted for some 27 percent of world economic output, nearly double the combined Soviet and Chinese share of 14 percent. In 2020, by contrast, the United States accounted for 16 percent of global GDP. China and Russia together came to 22 percent. China alone topped the United States. It is doubtful that sheer will can overcome the chasm between the United States’ material superiority during the Cold War and its shortfall today. Coming out of World War II, the American public understood the implications of undertaking obligations to defend other countries. By contrast, most Americans alive today, having never seen a great-power war or paid tangible costs for smaller wars, are not used to enduring hardship for foreign policy choices. Their well-founded suspicion of far-flung military interventions creates uncertainty about how the United States would truly act if one of its dozens of defense commitments came due. It also raises doubts about whether high defense spending could be sustained indefinitely. Rather than lock a new cold war into place, Biden should remember what produced the United States’ greatest successes during the original affair: a willingness to adjust to changing circumstances and weigh creative options without clinging to outmoded habits. The Marshall Plan, for example, broke with precedent by extending government funds to rebuild European countries that might have turned communist. Decades later, U.S. policymakers saw an opportunity to stabilize superpower relations and achieved détente, devising mutually beneficial arms control measures and stabilizing Europe through the Helsinki Accords. These achievements deserve to be emulated—and that requires eschewing misplaced nostalgia. A EUROPE STRONG AND FREE The war in Ukraine has made strategic discipline not only more necessary but also more achievable. By turning Europe into a more unified and determined geopolitical actor, the war has generated international dynamics that are conducive to U.S. restraint. Biden should reject a cold war strategy of dividing the world and keeping one half dependent on the United States. He should not allow Putin’s aggression to define the United States’ concept of itself and its role in the world. Instead, he should seek to make the world resilient—more capable of effective and collective action and less reliant on U.S. military protection. The first step is to support Ukraine while avoiding escalation into a direct clash between U.S. and Russian forces. Having galvanized domestic and international action, the Biden administration should avoid the rhetorical inflation of its aims and stick to a clear goal: not to defend Ukraine but rather to help Ukraine defend itself and end the war. Accordingly, the administration should push for a peace settlement with as much vigor as it has displayed in imposing costs on Russia. A negotiated agreement will almost certainly require lifting at least some of the harshest sanctions on Russia, including the freeze of the Russian central bank’s assets. The administration should proactively communicate an offer of sanctions relief to Moscow, which might not otherwise believe that such relief is possible. In conjunction with a pledge by Ukraine to give up on trying to join NATO, Biden should also be prepared to state publicly that the United States opposes further consideration of Ukraine’s membership prospects, which were never high to begin with. After the war, the United States should continue to send weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself. It would not be necessary or wise to pledge to go to war on Ukraine’s behalf, a commitment that would diminish American security and expand the U.S. military role in Europe. While avoiding the worst outcomes in Ukraine, Biden should take advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put the European security order on the path to self-sufficiency. With immense economic and demographic superiority, Europe is more than capable of developing the military power to balance Russia. Now, it seems increasingly willing to do so. But if Washington does not get out of its own way, change will not happen. Biden should reject a cold war strategy of dividing the world and keeping one half dependent on the United States. Biden should back European strategic autonomy and make a six-year plan, to cover the rest of his term and the next one, to transition European defense to European leadership. The administration should press European countries to provide new manpower in the eastern countries of NATO and replace the additional U.S. troops sent there since January. And it should help European capitals coordinate their next steps: improving their forces’ readiness and sustainability, developing capabilities for high-end operations, and harmonizing EU defense capabilities with those of a European-led, U.S.-supported NATO. Limiting the United States’ burdens in Europe would enhance its strategy in Asia. Biden would spare himself and his successors from facing the devil’s choice that advocates of primacy would force on generations to come: weaken the United States’ Indo-Pacific defenses in the event of a European war with Russia, or prepare to fight two great-power wars by raising defense spending so high as to court a political backlash. U.S. policymakers must steer clear of these unacceptable options. Nor need they resign themselves to a strategic competition with China so intense and encompassing as to resemble the early Cold War. Military restraint is desirable on strategic grounds, but it is also essential to freeing U.S. statecraft to pursue what matters most. The priorities that Biden identified when he came into office—delivering prosperity for ordinary Americans and tackling climate change and pandemics—remain just as important today, and the war has made them even harder to address. Russia’s war and Western sanctions risk triggering a global recession or contributing to a period of stagflation. A downward economic spiral could even accompany a downward security spiral; countries could divide into economic blocs for fear that geopolitical contingencies may one day suddenly force them to join one grouping or another. The United States should act to arrest deglobalization, which would depress growth and innovation and inhibit climate cooperation. Rather than succumb to a cold war framework, it should remain economically engaged with China and respect the sovereign choices of countries in the developing world to abstain from sanctions on Russia and otherwise opt for nonalignment. As surging prices compound the effects of the pandemic, the United States should rally its European and Asian partners to provide funds and technology to build renewable energy capacity in developing countries. Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to the American people. If it remains a sideshow in national security policy by the end of Biden’s tenure, then his foreign policy will have failed, no matter how well he handles the war in Ukraine. THE PRICE OF PRIMACY Among the priorities of the twenty-first-century United States should not be relations with Iran. Nevertheless, the country may soon vault to the top of the president’s agenda. Negotiators are currently trying to resurrect the agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. If those talks break down, the Biden administration will have to decide whether to support a military strike on Iran, even though it will likely regard the country as a negligible concern and a distraction from Ukraine. But even Ukraine is a distraction from what the administration had hoped to focus on: competition with China, not to mention rescuing American democracy, mitigating a pandemic, and preserving a habitable planet. Such cacophony is the predictable result of the quest for global military primacy—not control over world events but the forfeiture of self-control. The problem will get ever worse as the unipolar moment continues to recede. A new cold war promises clarity of purpose. In reality, it would impose enormous costs and generate unnecessary risks. It would not, moreover, make other priorities go away; it would more likely exacerbate the United States’ domestic travails and stifle urgent international cooperation. After 9/11, the United States allowed itself to become consumed by fears of the enemy. After Ukraine, the Biden administration should let nothing keep it from advancing the best interests of Americans.

West applying AI to hypersonics now

Ian Randall, 4-17, 22, NASA applies AI to ‘optimise’ new 3,800mph hypersonic engine that will terrify Putin,

Hypersonic objects are those that travel in excess of five times the speed of sound, or 3,806mph, fast enough to fly from London to New York in less than an hour. For missiles — such as those recently deployed by Russia against Ukraine or those being tested by the US — achieving such velocities can allow them to evade present-day air defences and anti-ballistic missile systems. It also makes them better able to penetrate heavily shielded structures and capable of destroying targets by means of kinetic energy alone, without even factoring in a payload of high explosives. However, the ability to travel and manoeuvre at hypersonic speeds presents significant and varied engineering challenges. When a missile or aircraft breaks through the sound barrier, it starts generating a shock wave that is hotter, denser and higher in pressure than the surrounding air. And in the hypersonic regime, air friction reaches such magnitudes that it would begin to melt parts of a conventional commercial aircraft. On top of all this, aerospace engineers must consider not only how air flows around the craft or weapon in question, but also how it behaves as it moves through the engines and interacts with fuel. Conventional, “air-breathing” jet engines like those seen in large passenger aircraft, actively draw in and compress oxygen to allow them to burn fuel as they fly — for example, through rotating fan blades. Above three times the speed of sound, however, this becomes unnecessary, as the passage of the jet or weapon through the air achieves this by itself. So-called ramjet and scramjet engines that take advantage of this principle can achieve levels of fuel efficiency that, for comparison, rockets can not. However, fluid dynamics models needed to develop such engines by predicting how they will respond to the fluid forces around and within them are inherently thorny. Back in March, Russia used a hypersonic missile to destroy an ammunition depot in Ukraine (Image: Twitter / @mod_russia) Mechanical engineer Dr Sibendu Som of the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Advanced Propulsion and Power Research, said: “The chemistry and turbulence interactions are so complex in these engines. “Scientists have needed to develop advanced combustion models and computational fluid dynamics codes to accurately and efficiently describe the combustion physics.” NASA, for example, has developed a hypersonic computational fluid dynamics code dubbed VULCAN-CFD, named after the Roman god of fire, that simulates how combustion behaves in turbulent airflows of engines at sub-, super- and hypersonic speeds. The software works by representing burning fuel in massive, multidimensional tables, where each entry stores a single, one-dimensional snapshot of flame dubbed a “flamelets”. The challenge with the approach, however, is that the sheer size of these datasets means that they require an enormous amount of computer memory to process. To address this issue, Dr Som and his colleagues at Argonne have teamed up with NASA to apply machine learning techniques to help reduce the computational requirements. Artificial neural networks can derive insights from data in much the same way that human brains can. Accordingly, by training it on a flamelet table, the neural network was able to glean shortcuts to the “answers” about how combustion behaves within super- and hypersonic engines. The team had previously used the same approach in studies looking instead at subsonic applications. This, he added, will help “further improve the developments for more efficient design and optimization of hypersonic jets.”

Russian dominance/aggression collapses the global norm against protecting territorial integrity, triggering massive war

TANISHA M. FAZAL,  is Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and the author of State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation, May/June 2022, Foreign Affairs, The Return of Conquest? Why the Future of Global Order Hinges on Ukraine,

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is shining a light on the precariousness of the norm against territorial conquest. The good news is that the outrage has been swift and broad, with a variety of actors worried that Putin’s attack could undermine the stability of borders globally. Even those who did not participate in the drawing of today’s national borders have spoken out passionately. “We agreed that we would settle for the borders that we inherited,” Martin Kimani, Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, said at a February 22 Security Council meeting. “We chose to follow the rules of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Charter,” he went on, “not because our borders satisfied us, but because we wanted something greater, forged in peace.” Leaders of countries from Albania to Argentina have condemned the Russian invasion on similar grounds.

In part, the fate of the norm against territorial conquest depends on the extent to which Putin violates it in Ukraine. If Putin ends up replacing the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and installing a puppet regime in Ukraine, he would be engaging in blatant regime change and dealing a grave blow to the Ukrainian people. But he would not be challenging the norm against territorial conquest per se. The country would be under indirect, rather than direct, Russian control.

Likewise, if Putin attempts to absorb Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk—areas he has long claimed as Russian territory—and the rest of the world acquiesces, it would weaken but not completely overturn the norm guarding a state’s territorial integrity, because most of Ukraine would remain intact. Even so, the acceptance of a limited violation of the norm might do more damage in the long run than a rejection of a major violation of it. After all, it is likely that the West’s relatively weak response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea emboldened Putin.

There is reason to fear that Putin’s ambitions go well beyond these goals. As his remarks questioning the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent country suggest, Putin seems interested in much more than merely putting a crony in charge of a former Soviet republic or carving out parts of the country; he may be contemplating redrawing the map of Europe to hark back to imperial Russia. If Russia were to take over the entirety of Ukraine, Putin would drive a stake into the heart of the norm against territorial conquest.

Norms are nourished by enforcement.

If Putin went that far, then the fate of the norm would depend largely on how the rest of the world reacted. Norms are nourished by enforcement. In 2013, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clearly violated the norm against the use of chemical weapons (and international law) when he fired sarin-filled rockets at the Damascus suburbs. Even though U.S. President Barack Obama had declared the use of chemical weapons to be a redline, the response to this violation was so tepid that one can be forgiven for asking whether the taboo against chemical weapons still holds.

Fortunately, much of the world’s response to the Russian invasion indicates that countries are largely united in their determination to protect the norm. Unprecedented sanctions on Russia, combined with donations of humanitarian aid and weapons for Ukraine, are applying pressure on Putin while offering (admittedly limited) relief to Zelensky. If that international resolve were to ebb, however, countries that neighbor Ukraine, such as Moldova, Poland, and Romania, would rightly become nervous about their sovereignty. Indeed, they already are. It is notable that the international community has not banded together to repel Russia’s incursion the way a U.S.-led global alliance turned back Iraq’s attempted annexation of Kuwait. That move not only restored Kuwaiti independence but also reinforced the norm against conquest. (Russia, of course, is far more powerful than Iraq ever was and possesses nuclear weapons to boot.)

At the same time, enforcing the norm against territorial conquest comes with tradeoffs, about which everyone should be clear-eyed. Protecting Ukrainian sovereignty is likely not worth a third world war—especially one that could go nuclear. The world should not pay the ultimate price just to support the norm against territorial conquest. But the bloody costs that come with that choice cannot be ignored. The West is currently walking a difficult line, seeking to respond to Russia’s invasion with strength but without escalating the conflict.

To preserve the norm against territorial conquest, the global community should keep up the pressure on Russia, even if Putin’s goal is to annex only Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. The Western alliance, for example, should not fully lift sanctions on Russia until and unless Putin recognizes Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders. International jurists should take Ukraine’s various suits against Russia seriously, not just in the context of this specific conflict but also with an eye to any precedents their decisions might set. Along these lines, it is worth paying attention to how the accusations that Russia has committed the crime of aggression play out. The fact that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, can veto a referral for the crime of aggression to the International Criminal Court exposes a troubling vulnerability of the norm against territorial conquest. It is hard to maintain norms when great powers are determined to break them.

Norms don’t always last forever.

If the global community fails to enforce the norm against territorial conquest, the states bordering great powers will face the highest risk of extinction. Among the most concerning aspects of a return to a world of violent state death are the effects invasions have on civilians. Annexationists frequently engage in indiscriminate targeting, similar to what is happening today in the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol, to quell and even depopulate areas. In other words, the demise of the norm against territorial conquest could see an increase in not only the incidence but also the brutality of war.

Even if the global community does not rally behind the norm in the face of a Russian attempt to reinstate imperial boundaries, hope for Ukraine will not be lost. About half of all the states that died violently since 1816 were later resurrected. An important predictor of resurrection is nationalist resistance to being swallowed up. The extent of the resistance can be difficult for invaders to predict. Putin’s expectations certainly seem to have been way off the mark: the widespread and sophisticated Ukrainian resistance strongly suggests that Russia will find it nearly impossible to control Ukraine. Few occupations in history have ended up achieving their long-term political aims.

If the Ukrainians are left to resurrect their own country, the end result will be good for Ukrainians but not particularly encouraging for the norm against territorial conquest. For norms to remain strong, violations must be punished. A resurrected Ukraine might deter future would-be conquerors from attacking the country. But globally, aspiring invaders would draw a clear lesson: it is possible to get away with territorial conquest.


It might be more comforting to believe that once established, a norm is permanent, but norms don’t always last forever. Think about how many have slipped away. People no longer settle fights via ritual dueling. Governments rarely issue formal declarations of war; the last time the United States did so was in 1942, even though the country has fought many wars since then. The public assassination of state leaders, which was a regular feature of international politics in Machiavelli’s time, was viewed as abhorrent by the seventeenth century (although covert assassinations continued). If the prohibition against territorial conquest ends up in the graveyard of norms, then history will turn backward, and the world will revisit the brutal era of violent state death. This is not to say that the norm ushered in world peace. There have been plenty of wars since 1945. But a certain kind of war—wars between states over unresolved territorial claims—did decline. Should that style of conflict return, civilians around the world will bear the consequences.

Consider the dozens of ongoing territorial disputes today. Armenia and Azerbaijan are engaged in a frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Sudan has challenged its border with Ethiopia in the southeast and South Sudan in the south. In the East China and South China Seas, China and its neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, disagree over the sovereignty of a series of islands. Taiwan’s fate is of particular concern. Putin’s arguments about the legitimacy of Ukraine’s statehood echo China’s claim that Taiwan and China are already one country. If it suddenly seems acceptable to take territory by force, leaders of states with long-unresolved territorial claims could attempt to subsume sovereign nations.

Existing norms and legal structures have helped stop recent territorial conflicts from escalating, offering nonviolent paths to their management and resolution. The International Court of Justice resolved a case between El Salvador and Honduras in 1986, for example. The United Nations and the Organization of American States resolved a brief conflict between Ecuador and Peru in 1998. Several years later, the ICJ resolved a long-standing militarized territorial dispute between Bahrain and Qatar; subsequently, the two states invested in what will be the world’s longest bridge. This mediation allowed states to settle their differences without significant bloodshed.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is about much more than Russia and Ukraine. Allowing the norm against territorial conquest to wither away would mean taking the lid off territorial disputes around the globe and making millions of civilians more vulnerable to indiscriminate targeting. Right now, the immediate effects of the war are largely contained to Ukraine, Russia, and the countries taking in Ukrainian refugees. But further down the road, if the norm against territorial conquest ends up as another casualty of this war, states would be wise to carefully tend to their borders.

Every isolation DA is non-unique

Karen DeYong, April 16, 2022, U.S., allies plan for long-term isolation of Russia,

Nearly two months into Vladimir Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine, the Biden administration and its European allies have begun planning for a far different world, in which they no longer try to coexist and cooperate with Russia, but actively seek to isolate and weaken it as a matter of long-term strategy. At NATO and the European Union, and at the State Department, the Pentagon and allied ministries, blueprints are being drawn up to enshrine new policies across virtually every aspect of the West’s posture toward Moscow, from defense and finance to trade and international diplomacy. Outrage is most immediately directed at Putin himself, who President Biden said last month “can’t remain in power.” While “we don’t say regime change,” said a senior E.U. diplomat, “it is difficult to imagine a stable scenario with Putin acting the way he is.” But the nascent new strategy goes far beyond the Kremlin leader, as planners are continuing to revise seminal documents that are to be presented in the coming months. Biden’s first National Security Strategy, legally required last year but still uncompleted, is likely to be significantly altered from initial expectations it would concentrate almost exclusively on China and domestic renewal. The Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, sent last month in classified form to Congress, prioritizes what a brief Pentagon summary called “the Russia challenge in Europe,” as well as the China threat. NATO’s first Strategic Concept document since 2010, when it sought a “true strategic partnership” with Russia, will be unveiled at the alliance summit in June. “Meaningful dialogue, as we strived for before, is not an option for Russia,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a news conference early this month. The European Union has drawn up plans to cut its heavy dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of this year, and end all fossil fuel imports from Russia before 2030. “It is not so much about sanctions, but it is about articulating a path to zero, making sure that we become independent of Russian gas and oil,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a forum Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “For some, that will be a trajectory of months. For others, it might be years. But the Netherlands and other countries are dead serious about this,” Hoekstra said. “Never again the same mistake.” Allies have announced major defense budget increases stretching far into the future. Finland and Sweden are expected to apply for NATO membership ahead of the June summit in Madrid, a significant shift in the balance of European security that would also sharply increase the alliance’s military presence near Russia. A week ago, Biden signed bills ending normal trade relations with Russia and codifying his U.S. ban on Russian oil imports. Last week, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia’s membership from the U.N. Human Rights Council, and a long-simmering movement to revise the membership and powers of the Security Council, where Russia freely uses its veto power, gained new impetus. Few Western leaders are willing to venture a guess as to when, and how, the Ukraine crisis will play out. Many of the proposed changes “can’t be fully decided until we know how this conflict ends,” said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, senior Pentagon official and deputy NATO secretary general. “Does it end?” Or does it drag on with an uneasy cease-fire, with “no war, no peace, for several years?” But the long-term strategy is being drawn up even as the allies address the immediate crisis with escalating sanctions against Moscow, weapons aid to Ukraine, and the deployment of tens of thousands of their own troops to NATO’s eastern border. Many of those measures and more are now expected to stay permanently in place, according to public leader statements and conversations with eight senior U.S. and foreign officials, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door planning. “At the end of the day, what we want to see is a free and independent Ukraine, a weakened and isolated Russia and a stronger, more unified, more determined West,” Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We believe that all three of those objectives are in sight.” Inside a deliberate yet impulsive Ukraine strategy Some have questioned both the wisdom of the plans and the staying power of the West, advising against a return to the “containment” policy that governed relations with the Soviet Union. Others have said the Ukraine crisis, and its profound effect on Europe, offer an opportunity for the United States to withdraw from at least some of its expensive, self-assumed responsibilities to defend the free world. “If anything,” historian Stephen Wertheim argued this month in Foreign Affairs magazine, “the war has strengthened the case for strategic discipline, by offering a chance to encourage Europe to balance against Russia while the United States concentrates on security in Asia and renewal at home.” Not everyone favors the long-term isolation of Moscow. In France, where President Emmanuel Macron is locked in a surprisingly close reelection race with the surging candidacy of Marine Le Pen, she has called for reconciliation between NATO and Russia and has reiterated a pledge to pull France out of the alliance’s integrated command. And there are voices in Germany in favor of keeping the door open to dialogue with the Kremlin to facilitate an eventual rapprochement. In the United States, the issue is one of the few in which Biden has strong bipartisan support. Backing for a tough line against Russia appears also to have subdued Republican disdain for NATO, a hallmark of the Trump administration, as alliance members from Washington to Russia’s western border insist that the need for, and the reality of, a common stand is higher than ever before. But if the immediacy of Ukraine dissipates, along with daily images of new horrors there, disagreements inevitably will arise over increased defense spending, the need to engage with Russia on issues such as nonproliferation, charges that attention is being pulled away from China, and disruptions of trade that bring rising prices at home that disrupt the president’s domestic agenda. “We must commit now to be in this fight for the long haul,” Biden said during a visit to Warsaw last month, outlining the fight as one between democracy and autocracy. “We must remain unified today and tomorrow and the day after and for the years and decades to come. It will not be easy. There will be costs.” President Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on March 26. (Omar Marques/Getty Images) The last major overhaul of relations with Russia, guiding hopes after the collapse of the Soviet Union, came in 1997, when NATO leaders and Moscow approved the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security.” Reflecting “the changing security environment in Europe, … in which the confrontation of the Cold War has been replaced with the promise of closer cooperation among former adversaries,” it said they would act together to build “a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic Area.” As it sought to tie Russia to interdependency, the Founding Act included specific commitments to respect states’ sovereignty, peacefully settle disputes, and, on NATO’s part, an intention to avoid any additional permanent stationing of “substantial combat forces” on Russia’s borders. It also specifically said it was not intended to “delay, limit or dilute NATO’s opening for the accession of new members.” In subsequent years, those commitments were often tested, most recently before the current crisis by Russian’s 2014 invasion of parts of eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, and resulting Western sanctions. But even after those events, Europe and the United States eased back into a relationship with Russia, either out of economic imperatives, as with Europe’s energy imports, or out of desire, as when former president Donald Trump bragged about his deep bond with Putin. But at an emergency NATO summit last month, “leaders agreed to reset our deterrence and defense for the long term,” Stoltenberg said. “To face a new security reality” with substantially more forces in the east, more jets in the skies and more ships at sea. Russia has “walked away” from the Founding Act, he said later. “That doesn’t exist any more.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Swedish troops March 25 during a military exercise in Norway. (Yves Herman/Reuters) A senior European official said that “the one lesson we take away from a Russian aggression that many thought could not be possible, is that here is a country that is ready to do something that no security guarantee or even plausible expectation [can ensure] that it can’t happen again.” “We thought interdependence, connectiveness, would be conducive to stability because we had correlating interests. Now, we’ve seen this is not the case. Russia was highly connected with Europe, a globalized country.” the official said. “Interdependence, we’ve now seen, can entail severe risks, if a country is ruthless enough. … We have to adapt to a situation that is absolutely new.” Several European policymakers said their current calculations are shaped by two major factors. The first is the expectation that any truce in Ukraine is likely to be temporary. Even if Putin agrees to lay down arms for the moment, many Europeans believe he will seek to regroup, rebuild the Russian military and attack again once he feels ready. The second is a deep horror at the Russian military’s atrocities against civilians that have come to light since its forces pulled back toward eastern Ukraine in the past two weeks. Many believe Putin himself may need to face war crimes charges in front of international tribunals. The combination means many Europeans feel their continent will be unstable and insecure so long as Putin is in the Kremlin. And if they are not yet willing to embrace an active effort to oust his regime, support is growing there, as well as in the United States, to permanently cut off his country. “There is growing realization that this is a long-term situation and that a strategy of containment, a strategy of defense, is forming,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said in an interview. “Support Ukraine as much as you can, sanction Russia as much as you can, do as much as you can do to reduce dependence on Russia however you can and finally, yes, put more emphasis on military defense.” Rinkevics was among the E.U. foreign ministers who had breakfast in Luxembourg this week with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to discuss war crimes. “When it comes to the investigation of all the war crimes, it cannot stop at the field commander, and in Russia, the ultimate commander in chief is the president of the Russian Federation,” Rinkevics said. “The feeling after Bucha,” the Kyiv suburb where withdrawing Russian troops left scores of dead civilians in the streets, some apparently tortured and executed, “is that it will be very difficult to speak with Putin or anyone in the Russian government without remembering what happened.” Apparently strong backing for the war among Russians has also caused a recalculation among allied policymakers about a long-standing effort to draw a distinction between the country’s population and its leadership, said Lithuanian Vice Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius. Russians appear to have the leaders they want, he said — another reason to dig in and prepare for a long standoff. “There is collective responsibility,” Abukevicius said. “At the beginning, we were saying ‘Putin’s war.’ Now, we are more and more saying ‘Russia’s war.’”

No Topic DA is Unique – Massive expansion against Russia now

Episkopsis, 4-16, 22, Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest, Nuclear Risks Rise as Russia and the West Prepare for Protracted Conflict,

It was reported earlier this week that Finland is poised to apply for NATO membership before the end of May, with Sweden to soon follow. London has voiced support for the expansion of NATO into Finland and Sweden. “Sweden and Finland are free to choose their future without interference — the UK will support whatever they decide,” tweeted British foreign secretary Liz Truss. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has echoed this message, telling CNN earlier in April that the two northern European countries would be “very much welcomed” if they choose to join NATO. The Biden administration has so far been more ambivalent in its public messaging, but has reportedly held behind-the-scenes consultations with Helsinki and Stockholm regarding their possible NATO bid. Russia has threatened that the NATO accession of Sweden and Finland, which would bolster the alliance’s presence in the Baltic Sea and potentially militarize the 800-mile-long Finnish-Russian frontier, will prompt a new wave of nuclear escalation. “If Sweden and Finland join NATO, the length of the land borders of the alliance with the Russian Federation will more than double. Naturally, these boundaries will have to be strengthened,” said Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council. “There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he said, implying that the move would prompt Russia to station nuclear weapons in the Baltic region in retaliation. The West has shrugged off the Kremlin’s warnings: “Russian threats towards the Nordic & Baltic states are not new and only strengthen our unity,” Truss said in a tweet. Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, dismissed Medvedev’s statement as a “fairly empty threat,” pointing to the alleged presence of nuclear weapons in Russia’s central European enclave of Kaliningrad. NATO’s newfound willingness to entertain security options that would previously have been rejected as too risky and needlessly provocative highlights the contours of an emerging, post-February 24 approach to Russia policy. “The age of engagement with Russia is over,” declared Truss at a dinner earlier this month with her NATO counterparts. NATO must instead base its approach on “resilience, defence and deterrence,” she said, adding that the core principle of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act—namely, that the two sides “do not consider each other as adversaries”—is now dead. As Russia prepares for a new offensive in the eastern Donbass region, the West is doubling down on what has been an unprecedented program of military aid to Ukraine. Washington is not just giving Ukraine weapons but telling it where to point them. According to recent reporting, the Biden administration has significantly loosened internal guidelines with the aim of allowing the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence services to share real-time targeting information with the Ukrainian military. The Biden administration is still reportedly reluctant to provide Ukraine’s armed forces with targeting information against Russian forces in Russia. But with mounting pressure from Republicans and Democrats who argue that the United States is not doing enough to support the Ukrainian war effort, it appears to be only a matter of time until that line is crossed as well. Even as they continue to provide the weapons and intelligence information to keep the war going indefinitely, NATO’s major members have effectively constrained Ukraine’s bargaining position in ongoing peace talks. “We need to ensure that any future talks don’t end up selling Ukraine out, or repeating the mistakes of the past,” announced the British Foreign Ministry. “We remember the uneasy settlement of 2014 which failed to give Ukraine lasting security. [Vladimir] Putin just came back for more. That is why we cannot allow him to win from this appalling aggression.” The European Union, meanwhile, has demanded that the Kremlin “immediately and unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine,” adding that Russia must “fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders.” In other words, any peace deal that would allow the Kremlin to save face appears to be unacceptable to the West. Any relevant concession, whether in the form of guarantees against NATO expansion or flexibility regarding the status of certain territories to Ukraine’s east, is treated as all but a moral crime. A majority coalition of Western governments appears to be working not to facilitate a negotiated settlement to end the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Ukraine, but to draw the Kremlin into a years-long quagmire that would make the Afghan mujahideen pale by comparison. Kiev is being encouraged by its Western benefactors not to consider pragmatic, creative solutions aimed at swiftly ending the bloodshed, but to pursue a maximalist agenda on the battlefield and the negotiating table. Some congressional Republicans are pressuring the Biden administration to facilitate Ukrainian counter-offensives to retake all territories occupied by Russia, including Crimea and the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DNR and LPR). As the fighting shifts eastward, calls to help Ukraine take the fight to Russia will likely grow louder. The intention among many Western lawmakers is to back Moscow into a corner; but what might happen if they succeed?

Cyber risk low – limited utility, no escalation empirically denied

Lonegran, 4-15, 22, ERICA D. LONERGAN is Assistant Professor in the Army Cyber Institute at West Point and a Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. Previously, she served as Senior Director on the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission. The views expressed here are her own, The Cyber-Escalation Fallacy What the War in Ukraine Reveals About State-Backed Hacking,

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March, Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, pressed General Paul Nakasone, the head of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, about the lack of significant cyber-operations in Russia’s war in Ukraine. After all, Russia has long been known for targeting Western countries, as well as Ukraine itself, with cyberattacks. Echoing the surprise of many Western observers, King said, “I expected to see the grid go down, communications too, and that hasn’t happened.” Indeed, although President Joe Biden and members of his administration have also warned of potential Russian cyberattacks against the United States, there were remarkably few signs of such activity during the first six weeks of the war. That is not to say that cyber-activity has been entirely absent. Proxy cyber-groups and hackers have mobilized on both sides, ranging from Ukraine’s 400,000-strong “IT Army” to Russia’s Conti ransomware group. Sandworm, an outfit linked to Russian military intelligence, also has a long record of cyberattacks against Ukraine. Yet since the war began, such operations have mostly been limited to low-cost, disruptive incidents rather than large-scale attacks against critical civilian and military infrastructure. Two potential exceptions only underscore the relatively limited role of cyber-operations. There is some evidence that at the start of the war Russian-linked actors conducted a cyberattack against Viasat, a U.S.-based Internet company that provides satellite Internet to the Ukrainian military and to customers in Europe. But the impact was temporary and, more important, did not meaningfully affect the Ukrainian military’s ability to communicate. Additionally, Ukrainian officials recently announced that, in early April, the Sandworm group attempted, but failed, to carry out a cyberattack against Ukraine’s power grid. While the hackers appeared to have gained access to a company that delivers power to two million Ukrainians, they were thwarted by effective defenses before being able to cause any damage or disruption. In fact, the negligible role of cyberattacks in the Ukraine conflict should come as no surprise. Through war simulations, statistical analyses, and other kinds of studies, scholars have found little evidence that cyber-operations provide effective forms of coercion or that they cause escalation to actual military conflict. That is because for all its potential to disrupt companies, hospitals, and utility grids during peacetime, cyberpower is much harder to use against targets of strategic significance or to achieve outcomes with decisive impacts, either on the battlefield or during crises short of war. In failing to recognize this, U.S. officials and policymakers are approaching the use of cyberpower in a way that may be doing more harm than good—treating cyber-operations like any other weapon of war rather than as a nonlethal instrument of statecraft and, in the process, overlooking the considerable opportunities as well as risks they present. THE MYTH OF CYBER-ESCALATION Much of the current understanding in Washington about the role of cyber-operations in conflict is built on long-standing but false assumptions about cyberspace. Many scholars have asserted that cyber-operations could easily lead to military escalation, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons. Jason Healey and Robert Jervis, for example, expressing a widely held view, have argued that an incident that takes place in cyberspace, “might cross the threshold into armed conflict either through a sense of impunity or through miscalculation or mistake.” Policymakers have also long believed that cyberspace poses grave perils. In 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned of an impending “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” in which adversaries could take down critical U.S. infrastructure through cyberattacks. Nearly a decade later, FBI Director Christopher Wray compared the threat from ransomware—when actors hold a target hostage by encrypting data and demanding a ransom payment in return for decrypting it—to the 9/11 attacks. And as recently as December 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin noted that in cyberspace, “norms of behavior aren’t well-established and the risks of escalation and miscalculation are high.” Seemingly buttressing these claims has been a long record of cyber-operations by hostile governments. In recent years, states ranging from Russia and China to Iran and North Korea have used cyberspace to conduct large-scale espionage, inflict significant economic damage, and undermine democratic institutions. In January 2021, for example, attackers linked to the Chinese government were able to breach Microsoft’s Exchange email servers, giving them access to communications and other private information from companies and governments, and may have allowed other malicious actors to conduct ransomware attacks. That breach followed on the heels of a Russian intrusion against the software vendor SolarWinds, in which hackers were able to access a huge quantity of sensitive government and corporate data—an espionage treasure trove. Cyberattacks have also inflicted significant economic costs. The NotPetya attack affected critical infrastructure around the world—ranging from logistics and energy to finance and government—causing upward of $10 billion in damage. But the assumption that cyber-operations play a central role in either provoking or extending war is wrong. Hundreds of cyber-incidents have occurred between rivals with long histories of tension or even conflict, but none has ever triggered an escalation to war. North Korea, for example, has conducted major cyberattacks against South Korea on at least four different occasions, including the “Ten Days of Rain” denial of service attack—in which a network is flooded with an overwhelming number of requests, becoming temporarily inaccessible to users—against South Korean government websites, financial institutions, and critical infrastructure in 2011 and the “Dark Seoul” attack in 2013, which disrupted service across the country’s financial and media sectors. No cyber operation has ever triggered a war. It would be reasonable to expect that these operations might escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula, especially because North Korea’s war plans against South Korea reportedly involve cyber-operations. Yet that is not what happened. Instead, in each case, the South Korean response was minimal and limited to either direct, official attribution to North Korea by government officials or more indirect public suggestions that Pyongyang was likely behind the attacks. Similarly, although the United States reserves the right to respond to cyberattacks in any way it sees fit, including with military force, it has until now relied on economic sanctions, indictments, diplomatic actions, and some reported instances of tit-for-tat cyber-responses. For example, following Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and shuttered two facilities said to be hubs for Russian espionage. The Treasury Department also levied economic sanctions against Russian officials. Yet according to media reports, the administration ultimately rejected plans to conduct retaliatory cyber-operations against Russia. And although the United States did use its own cyber-operations to respond to Russian attacks during the 2018 midterm elections, it limited itself to temporarily disrupting the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm. These measured responses are not unusual. Despite decades of malicious behavior in cyberspace—and no matter the level of destruction—cyberattacks have always been contained below the level of armed conflict. Indeed, researchers have found that major adversarial powers across the world have routinely observed a “firebreak” between cyberattacks and conventional military operations: a mutually understood line that distinguishes strategic interactions above and below it, similar to the threshold that exists for the employment of nuclear weapons. But it is not just that cyber-operations do not lead to conflict. Cyberattacks can also be useful ways to project power in situations in which armed conflict is expressly being avoided. This is why Iran, for example, might find cyberattacks against the United States, including the 2012–13 denial of service attacks it conducted against U.S. financial institutions, appealing. Since Iran likely prefers to avoid a direct military confrontation with the United States, cyberattacks provide a way to retaliate for perceived grievances, such as U.S. economic sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear program, without triggering the kind of escalation that would put the two countries on a path to war. THE ADVANTAGE OF AMBIGUITY In addition to the ways they are used, cyber-operations also have two general qualities that tend to distinguish them from conventional military operations. First, they typically have limited, transient impact—especially when compared with conventional military action. As the Hoover Institute fellow Jacquelyn Schneider recently told The New Yorker, “If you’re already at a stage in a conflict where you’re willing to drop bombs, you’re going to drop bombs.” Unlike traditional military hardware, cyberweapons are virtual: even at their most destructive, they rarely have effects in the physical world. In the extraordinary instances when they do—such as the Stuxnet cyberattack, which caused the centrifuges used to enrich uranium in Natanz, Iran, to speed up or slow down—cyber-operations do not inflict the kind of damage that can occur in even a minor precision missile strike. And when states have launched cyberattacks against civilian infrastructure, such as Russia’s 2015 hit on Ukraine’s power grid, the impact has been short-lived. To date, cyberattacks have never caused direct physical harm; the only known indirect death associated with a cyberattack occurred in 2020, when a German patient with a life-threatening condition died as a result of a treatment interruption caused by a ransomware attack on a hospital’s servers. In practice, governments themselves have also recognized the contrasting impacts of cyberattacks and conventional military attacks. Consider the incident between Iran and the United States that occurred in the summer of 2019: according to reports in the U.S. media, when Iran attacked oil tankers in the region and downed a U.S. drone, the Trump administration chose to respond in cyberspace, allegedly by hacking Iranian computer systems to degrade their ability to conduct further attacks against oil tankers. What stands out about this case is that there was a credible military option on the table that was subsequently revoked: President Donald Trump called off plans to conduct military strikes against Iranian targets. At the time, Trump tweeted that he changed his mind after learning of the potential for civilian casualties. By implication, a cyber-operation may have been seen as less risky precisely because it was unlikely to cause loss of life or even major destruction. Maxar Technologies / Reuters Second, in contrast to most military strikes, cyber-operations tend to be shrouded in secrecy and come with plausible deniability. Analysts have argued that uncertainty about responsibility makes interactions in cyberspace perilous and undermines deterrence. Cloaked in anonymity, so the logic goes, malicious actors can provoke conflict while remaining in the shadows. It is true that false-flag cyberattacks are common. For example, when a group linked to the Chinese government conducted cyber-operations against Israel in 2019 and 2020, it masqueraded as Iranian, presumably to confuse Israeli attribution efforts. Yet secrecy need not have negative implications: it can provide opportunities for states to maneuver in crises without the drawbacks that more conventional uses of hard power might have, such as exacerbating domestic political tensions. It can also offer a way to explore the extent to which the other side is willing to negotiate or resolve the crisis: ambiguity creates breathing space. For example, when the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, experts worried that Iran might retaliate, perhaps by attacking U.S. personnel or U.S. interests in the Middle East. Instead, Iran appeared to respond with increased cyber-activity that was ambiguous and not escalatory. Although the Iranian cyber-operations were noted within a day of the U.S. announcement, they were not the kind of massive attack that many commentators had anticipated; they mostly appeared to be attempts to conduct reconnaissance and probe for vulnerabilities. If Iran intended for this activity to be uncovered, it would largely serve symbolic purposes—communicating Iran’s presence to the United States. Put simply, cyber-operations by their very nature are designed to avoid war. They can act as a less costly alternative to conflict because they are ambiguous, rarely break things, and don’t kill people. By continuing to depict cyberspace as an escalatory form of warfare itself, policymakers risk overstating the role of cyber-operations in armed conflict and missing their true importance. TOOLS NOT WEAPONS The recognition that cyber-operations are unlikely to lead to military escalation—and that they play at most a supporting rather than decisive role in actual armed conflicts—has direct consequences for U.S. policy and strategy. For one thing, it means that the United States may have greater room to use cyberspace to achieve objectives without precipitating new crises or exacerbating existing ones. Since 2018, for example, the U.S. Defense Department has treated cyberspace as an arena in which the military can operate more routinely and proactively rather than wait to respond to an adversary’s activity. According to the Pentagon, Washington needs to “defend forward to disrupt or halt malicious cyber activity at its source.” This approach encompasses maneuvering on networks controlled by U.S. adversaries or third parties and even conducting offensive cyber-operations. At the time that the 2018 cyber strategy was released, many experts expressed alarm that it could provoke military escalation. Adding to the concerns, in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress authorized the secretary of defense to conduct cyber-operations as a traditional military activity, which meant that cyber-operations would no longer be treated as a form of covert action requiring a presidential finding to be approved. Yet in the four years since the defend forward concept was implemented, the escalation that many feared has not materialized. This should give some assurances to policymakers that the United States can continue to conduct offensive cyber-operations without risking a wider conflict. In 2021, for example, U.S. Cyber Command, working with a partner government, conducted a cyber-operation to limit the ability of the Russian-linked criminal group REvil to conduct ransomware attacks. Several months later, U.S. officials acknowledged that the military had “imposed costs” against ransomware groups. There is also some evidence that efforts to counter Russian cyber-activity during the current Ukraine crisis may have blunted a more effective Russian cyberoffensive, with Nakasone alluding to work done by the Ukrainians and others to hinder Moscow’s plans. But just because the Pentagon’s plan has not led to escalation does not mean it is tool the U.S. can use to solve all of the cyber challenges it faces. For the very same reasons that offensive cyber-operations have not led to escalation, their constraints should cast doubt on the notion that the United States can use them to coerce adversaries into changing their behavior or punish them by inflicting high costs. Cyber operations rarely break things, or cause loss of life. Second, the reality that cyber-operations are used by states in many different ways means that policymakers need to develop a more nuanced approach for responding to cyberthreats. Because cyber-operations are consistently seen as representing an existential threat to the United States, Washington has tended to deal with cyber-incidents of contrasting scope and scale with the same policy tools. For instance, senior U.S. officials described both Russia’s 2016 election interference and 2021 SolarWinds operation as acts of war. But the first was a cyber-enabled information operation and the second was in fact a large-scale cyber-espionage campaign—and neither resembled open war in any conventional sense. Moreover, the policy responses in both of these cases (as in many other cyber-incidents) were similar: a combination of public attribution, indictments, and sanctions. Instead of responding with inflammatory language and standard forms of retaliation, policymakers should consider how to employ cybertools and non-cybertools in ways that are tailored to specific incidents, taking into account the extent and gravity of a given operation. Responses can also be proportionate without being symmetrical. Rather than responding in kind, the United States should apply varying and more creative approaches that reflect differences in adversaries’ centers of gravity. What is important to Beijing and therefore what may motivate its behavior is different from what is important to Moscow, Tehran, and so on. A one-size-fits-all approach to adversary cyber-operations may raise particular problems in the Ukraine conflict. Anticipating potential Russian cyberattacks against member states, NATO leaders have reaffirmed that Article 5, the treaty’s collective defense clause, applies to cyberspace, but they have also expressed ambiguity about what specific operations might trigger it. A lack of clarity about how thresholds and responses are defined risks undermining the credibility of this pledge and the effectiveness of NATO’s overall cyberstrategy.

No NATO-Russia cyber escalation

Dr. Matthias Schulze is the deputy head of the security division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). He also runs blog and podcast on cybersecurity issues, 4-15, 22, Can Russia and the West Avoid a Major Cyber Escalation?,

The Russo-Ukrainian is a tragedy, but it offers valuable lessons on cyber escalation dynamics during a conventional war. First, conventional operations appear more effective than cyber operations for achieving various tactical goals. Russia does not necessarily need to shut down the power grid with cyber attacks, as its forces were able to gain physical control over nuclear power plants and destroy relay stations from the air. With this in mind, the inherent challenges of using cyberattacks make them an imperfect tool for escalation. Second, the scope of escalation is currently focused on Ukraine, but Russia is also probing NATO countries’ infrastructure. For instance, the aforementioned wiperware attack on KA-SAT satellites disabled almost 6,000 wind turbine modems in Europe, and NATO countries have faced low-intensity attacks and probes of their critical infrastructure. While some argue that Putin might unleash more destructive attacks if he has his back against the wall, others counter that states will restrain their cyber activities because of mutual interdependence and vulnerability. Numerous hack and leak operations show that Russia is indeed vulnerable to cyber attacks. In addition, more destructive attacks against NATO members would likely entail high costs for Russia. In an effort to establish deterrence against highly destructive cyberattacks, NATO declared in 2014 that it could respond to cyberattacks that cross the conventional threshold, either in kind or through conventional means. Regarding the war in Ukraine, this means a destructive cyberattack could lead to cross-domain escalation, pushing NATO into the conflict and increasing the risk of nuclear escalation. Currently, there are signs—particularly the lack of high-level cyberattacks—that the United States and Russia are trying to avoid this. If this remains the case, it is likely that cyberattacks against NATO countries will continue, but that they will stay below the conventional threshold.

Cyber not an extension of warfare, as weapons can obtain the same power grid impacts

Joseph Marks, 4-14, 22, Washington Post, Some see cyberwar in Ukraine. Others see just thwarted attacks.,

CATO Institute Senior Fellow Brandon Valeriano is skeptical of that explanation. In Valeriano’s view, Kremlin cyber operations in Ukraine since the invasion have just been a logical extension of hacking Russia has been doing there for several years and largely unrelated to broader military strategy.  Even the most damaging cyberattacks – such as a 2015 Russian attack that disrupted large portions of Ukraine’s energy grid for several hours – would be impractical during wartime because the same effect could be achieved more easily with missiles.  “A lot of people have their hopes pinned on this new evolution of warfare and that’s not something that’s come to pass in Ukraine,” he told me.

Russia will escalate cyber attacks in response to sanctions, the US and its allies must respond

Kello & Kaminska, 4-14, 22, Lucas Kello is Associate Professor of International Relations at Oxford University. He serves as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations and as co-Director of the interdisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security in the Department of Computer Science, Monica Kaminska is a postdoctoral researcher at The Hague Program on International Cyber Security at Leiden University – Institute of Security and Global Affairs. Her research examines international cyber conflict, particularly states’ responses to hostile cyber operations, Cyberspace and War in Ukraine: Prepare for Worse,

A large coalition of Western and Western-aligned states (such as Japan and South Korea) have levied economic and financial sanctions against Russia. The country is now possibly the most heavily sanctioned nation in the world—even more so than North Korea under the reclusive Kim Jong Un’s rule. The sanctions go far beyond the targeted financial penalties that the U.S. Treasury Department has applied to individuals and organizations such as the Russian Internet Research Agency, which it deemed responsible for previous hacking activities, or those imposed after the SolarWinds incident. They far surpass, too, the scope and effects of the United Kingdom’s diplomatic and financial penalties in response to the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate’s (GRU) poisoning operation (with the banned chemical agent novichok) against its former agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018. The current sanctions regime against Russia is particularly potent because it has included an extraordinary freeze on central bank assets and the expulsion of some of Russia’s largest banks from the global interbank payments system, SWIFT. Hundreds of multinational and mostly Western companies have exited the Russian market or suspended their operations there. The ruble has undergone dramatic price drops not seen since the 1998 financial crisis, which has inflicted economic pain on the general Russian population. The net result of these economic dislocations is an expected drop in Russian gross domestic product of 15 percent in 2022—a decline that would reduce the Russian economy to its size in 2007 at current prices.

Against the backdrop of Russia’s economic meltdown, the Kremlin’s retaliatory options within the diplomatic and economic realms are limited. Russia has so far responded, among other measures, with a ban on ruble loans to citizens of “unfriendly” states, closed its domestic airspace to Western airplanes and demanded payment for Russian gas in rubles. These punitive instruments have not hit very hard—if only because Russia’s strongest measure, the closing of oil and gas exports to Europe and North America, would severely curtail its remaining source of hard currency (hence why Russia has avoided this measure). The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other Western players can wield the potent club of economic sanctions because of their dominant position within the global financial system (for example, the role of the dollar, the pound and the euro as world reserve currencies). Russia does not enjoy such a position of dominance; it will seek punitive options elsewhere.

Cyberspace offers attractive alternative options. Hackers and security planners in Moscow must be assessing how to mirror some of the sanctions’ economic and financial effects through disruptions in Western cyberspace. Scenarios are not hard to imagine. They include, for example, an interruption of computers that support stock trading at the NASDAQ or the London Stock Exchange (the Moscow Exchange index has lost almost 50 percent of its value since its February high); the processing of payments at SWIFT (from which Russian banks were recently ejected); or the data servers of JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and other banks that have dialed down their Russian operations.

Then there are the asymmetric options: acts of unpeace whose effects transcend the economic realm without crossing the lines of war. Forensic evidence shows that Russia has burrowed itself deeply within key U.S. networks. The intelligence community’s 2022 Annual Threat Assessment cautioned that Russia was honing its ability to target underwater cables and industrial control systems. Reports of Russian GRU hackers penetrating the U.S. electrical grid are commonplace. Perhaps the clearest indication of the growing risk of breakdowns in cyberspace was President Biden’s public warning on March 21 that the West should expect them.

But that is not all. Beyond the intentional effects of Russian cyberattacks are their unintentional effects. During a military invasion that appears to be failing on many fronts, Russian cyber operations are likely to be at least as brazen and indiscriminate as in the past. An illustrative case is the “NotPetya” wiper malware that the GRU unleashed upon Ukrainian businesses in 2017 but whose cascading effects disrupted commercial operations in many countries (notably interrupting the activities of the global shipping giant Maersk). A more recent example is the hack (likely by Russian state agents) of Viasat, a U.S. satellite internet provider used by the Ukrainian military and police. What is particularly significant is that the operation’s effects, like NotPetya’s, spread far beyond Ukraine. It affected thousands of wind turbines in Germany—which are still not fully operational—and disconnected tens of thousands of European internet users.

There is also the case of Finland and Sweden. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is driving the two traditionally neutral states firmly toward NATO membership. They will face a period of critical vulnerability spanning their formal request for accession (which is expected in the coming months) and their actual accession (which requires ratification among the alliance’s 30 member states). Russia’s motives to disrupt the joiners’ information space will rise even as collective defense guarantees to protect them are still being worked out.

If and when these scenarios (or their variants) materialize, the history of cyber conflict suggests that the United States and its partners will struggle to mount a forceful response. Although they often promised to respond decisively, they traditionally failed to do so. Rather, Western nations—in particular, the United States—have been risk averse in their reactions. Officials are wary of responding in kind for fear of engaging in escalating tit-for-tat cyber exchanges in a domain marked by an inherent potential for collateral damage and blowback.

More broadly, officials struggle to interpret the legal vagaries of unpeaceful conflict—where are its red or “pink” lines?—which delays decision-making in the aftermath of major incidents. Hence they struggle to figure out how to impose costs outside of cyberspace for actions within it. In the current crisis, Western nations are fast running out of those options. The sanctions box of penalties is almost exhausted. At any rate, it is not clear that imposing them without communicating clear criteria for their lifting is an effective punishment tool (as Daniel Drezner argued). Moreover, levying sanctions for cyber activity while simultaneously imposing them for military activity risks muddling the signaling to Moscow. Where exactly, flustered Kremlin analysts might wonder, are the response thresholds for different conflict domains?

Therefrom arises another policy dilemma: whether to relax the reluctance to impose costs within Russian cyberspace. With the sanctions toolbox emptying and the aversion to direct military measures prevailing, a viable pathway to affect Russian interests—whether in response to future cyberattacks or events on the ground—might be found in cyberspace.

An intensification of conflict in cyberspace will likely require a reduction of risk aversion in the response calculus. Western nations should not reinforce the perception in Moscow that missile strikes in Kyiv are unacceptable but the interruption of banking operations in Manhattan or Frankfurt is tolerable—a perception that far predates the Ukraine war and which has lived too long. And not just the hawks in Moscow will be watching. Observers in other capitals such as Beijing or Tehran will also bear witness. Western officials will want to teach them that computer breakdowns back home will elicit unacceptable penalties.

More than ever before in the history of cyber conflict, the United States and its partners—long reluctant cyber warriors—might find cyber operations a more attractive option for strategic action abroad. Examples are not hard to conjure. Similar to past actions by U.S. Cyber Command, the operations might involve takedowns of servers of Russian information warfare outfits and hacking units (like within the GRU) or the disruption of criminal ransomware groups (which have recently shifted their resources toward patriotic activities). More boldly, they might entail the interruption of computer networks that support Russian financial or commercial operations that circumvent sanctions.

In sum, the absence of breakdowns in cyberspace likely marks a period of false stability. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, it took eight months—the “phony war” period—for conflict to break out in earnest on the Western front. Unlike 1939, the current prospect of direct war involving large nations is low. But we expect that, like then, the conflict will eventually spread to other fronts. The common desire to avoid a direct war on the ground has increased the risk of lesser but still consequential conflict in cyberspace (although unprecedented warnings and multiple CISA alerts, such as this one, about sophisticated attack tools could already be having a deterring effect). After the aggressor shifts its focus from immediate tactical objectives to broader strategic gains, it may want to pursue them there. The Ukraine war will probably shape the next chapters in the annals of cyber conflict. Western security planners should be active authors in the saga. Beyond shoring up defenses, they should prepare their responses now.

Russia is still a cyber threat, it simply has chosen not to use cyber weapons in the Ukraine

Kitche, 4-12, 22, Klon Kitchen (@klonkitchen) is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also the former national security adviser to Senator Ben Sasse and a fifteen-year veteran of the U.S. intelligence community, Why Russia’s Cyber Warriors Haven’t Crippled Ukraine,

Two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, we are beginning to understand the role of cyber in Europe’s largest land war since World War II. While there have been some initial surprises, Ukraine and the United States are settling into a posture focused on limiting Russia’s digital operations inside the warzone and preventing it from escalating cyberattacks internationally. Russia, on the other hand, is trying to get off its heels tactically, reassert itself as a force to be feared, and keep global leaders guessing about its capabilities and intentions. Many, including myself, thought a conflict in Ukraine would begin with extensive Russian cyberattacks against Kiev’s military command and control, air defense, civilian communications, and critical infrastructure networks. The rationale was that these operations provide significant military advantages, fall well within Russia’s demonstrated cyber capabilities, and pose little risk to the attacker. While the early hours of the invasion did include a hack of U.S. satellite communications provider Viasat and limited “wiperware” and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, the anticipated cyber onslaught did not materialize. Having learned more since the invasion began, there appear to be three primary reasons why events unfolded as they did. First, Moscow seems to have made a strategic choice not to employ large-scale, destructive code in order to control escalation. While Russian hackers have previously used attacks like the NotPetya worm in Ukraine, the fact that this attack eventually spread across the globe and caused at least $10 billion in damages—including inside Russia—likely convinced Putin not to use similar attacks in this context. This was assuredly the right decision, considering that NATO is already nervous about cyber threats and it is unclear if a large-scale cyberattack that spread to one of its members would trigger the alliance’s Article V commitment to mutual defense. Second, Russia may have left Ukraine’s critical infrastructure unmolested because its military needed it. The ability to deploy secure, tactical communications is a fundamental capability of modern combat. Yet Russia has utterly failed to do this at the necessary scale in Ukraine. Instead, the Russian military has frequently used commercial radios and civilian telecommunications that have been easily intercepted and exploited. While surprising from a military capability perspective, this dependency would explain the lack of offensive cyber operations against communications networks. Similarly, critical infrastructure may not have been targeted because Russian forces assumed they would quickly achieve a decisive victory and that insulating vital services like water and electricity would be essential for reestablishing order and preventing significant civilian opposition. This too, while wildly optimistic, helps to explain why these sectors have not been taken offline. Finally, Russia did try conducting other cyberattacks, but they were successfully repelled. Just last week, Gen. Paul Nakasone, Commander of U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), testified to Congress that so-called “hunt forward” teams deployed to Eastern Europe in December of last year were working with Ukraine to harden its networks and evict Russian hackers. These teams remain in theater and have been engaged in online hand-to-hand combat with Moscow’s blackhat hackers ever since. And this leads us to the current state of play, where operators on all sides are now circling each other, constantly matching and countering one another’s cyber moves. Last week, for example, the Department of Justice disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had secretly removed Russian malware from computer networks around the world, including from some networks owned by American companies without their permission. The FBI took similar actions last year and appears poised to do so again, rationalizing that these threats are too significant for responses to be delayed by slow or uneven efforts by the private sector. The Biden administration has also issued a warning to commercial owners of critical infrastructure, asking them to redouble their defenses against threats like ransomware, with the president saying, “We need everyone to do their part to meet one of the defining threats of our time—your vigilance and urgency today can prevent or mitigate attacks tomorrow.” The U.S. government is also cracking down on Russian-backed non-state hackers such as the various ransomware syndicates operating within Russia’s borders. In the weeks before and since the invasion of Ukraine, USCYBERCOM and the FBI have deconstructed many of these groups’ technical infrastructure, cut off and even reclaimed some of their cryptocurrency funding, and indicted key members. But it is not just the government that is engaged in this fight. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and other private companies are also actively working against Russian cyberattacks, removing destructive software, blocking propaganda, and helping Ukrainian users secure their data. These and other efforts make one thing very clear: securing the U.S. homeland—as well as American allies and partners—from malicious cyberattacks requires sustained, multi-dimensional operations that will only be successful if they are done in partnership with the private sector. Anything less will result in failure. Russia, for its part, remains dangerous and is far from out of the game. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, for example, says Russia remains a “top cyber threat” that is “particularly focused on improving its ability to target critical infrastructure.” While its military operations in Ukraine have exposed many previously hidden weaknesses, its cyber capabilities are formidable and well-demonstrated, and Putin’s online strategy is being driven by political calculations, not by a lack of capacity. In summary, it would be a mistake to conclude that the conflict in Ukraine undermines the notion that cyber operations are a critical part of modern warfare that pose a serious threat to international peace. In fact, other global challengers like China are likely observing Russia’s failures and concluding that the lack of decisive digital attacks has been a key variable in Moscow’s losses. Putin himself may soon conclude that large-scale, disruptive cyberattacks in the United States or elsewhere are the best way to reassert himself, intimidate his foes, and regain the advantage. This would be a costly miscalculation on his part, but it would not be his first.

NATO developing cyber protection capabilities now

Valori, 4-12, 22, Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and international relations expert, who serves as the President of the International World Group. In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori chair of Peace and Regional Cooperation. Prof. Valori also holds chairs for Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and at Peking University in China. Among his many honors from countries and institutions around the world, Prof. Valori is an Honorable of the Academy of Science at the Institute of France, as well as Knight Grand Cross and Knight of Labor of the Italian Republic,  How the US has developed its cyber warfare – part 4,

In April 2021 the US Air Force Research Laboratory awarded Lockheed Martin a 12.8 million dollar contract for the Defense Experiment in Commercial Space-Based Internet (DEUCSI) program. The DEUCSI project hopes to form a flexible, high-bandwidth, high-availability Air Force communication and data sharing capability by taking full advantage of commercial outer space-based Internet networks.

The project consists of three phases, namely, using satellites and commercial demonstration terminals to establish connections between multiple Air Force sites; expanding user terminals to multiple locations and various types of platforms to extend the range of connections; and conducting specialized tests and experiments to solve special military space-based needs that cannot be met by Internet providers.

The Air Force also announced in May that the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) program will enter a new phase of development, moving from a focus based on testing and rapid technology development to a more traditional focus on deploying combat capabilities. The move marks the transition of ABMS into a full-fledged procurement program, moving from a largely theoretical and developmental state to one that involves specialized equipment procurement and more hands-on testing.

The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) has created a new capability matrix for ABMS, which includes six categories: 1. security processing; 2. connectivity; 3. data management; 4. applications; 5. sensor integration; 6. integrated effects. The Air Force plans to use more contracted tools to leverage commercial technologies, infrastructure and proven applications to get ABMS off the ground in a secure military digital network environment.

NATO is developing new cloud technologies to establish technical standards in the field and ensure interoperability among Member States. The current cloud technology project that has attracted much attention is the Firefly system, developed by French company Thales.

The system will deploy NATO’s first deployable scenario-level defence cloud capability and enable its own forces to receive, analyse and transmit data between static headquarters and in real time across theatres of operation. Firefly uses an all-in-one system architecture, including application management, IT networking and security, and hence it represents a holistic approach to deployable command and control resources for the Atlantic Alliance.

Firefly is designed to provide command and control services to NATO response forces and enable collaboration between static and deployed users in support of major joint operations (MJO) or smaller joint operations (SJO). The Firefly system will provide eight deployable communication and information points of presence (DPOPs) to provide communication services with NATO command and deployed force applications and information services.

Firefly will integrate and interact with existing NATO information and communication systems and provide countries and partners with Federated Mission Networking (FMN) connectivity for operations, missions and exercises so as to communicate effectively. Specific Firefly services include: communication services, infrastructure services, business support services, and staging and deployment environments

Strong, unified NATO key to deter a China attack on Taiwan

Helmy, 4-13, 22, Dr.Nadia HelmyAssociate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit, Modern Diplomacy, U.S- NATO role in the cyber conflict and Taiwan to confront China after the Ukraine war,

Hence, Beijing is carefully studying the reaction of the international community to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is certain that China will analyze the most prominent aspects of the benefits of Russian military operations in Ukraine, in order to benefit from this in its strategy towards Taiwan. The most important thing to me is the Chinese insistence on monitoring and analyzing the extent of the unity and cohesion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other American alliances, as well as the extent to which the alliance and Western countries are able to bear the consequences and costs of sanctions on Russia. Here, we find that China is trying to monitor and analyze all the course of the war in Ukraine, and the Chinese analysis on (the most prominent defensive military roles of the “US Pentagon” and NATO after the Ukraine war, and the impact of (combining misinformation and the US cyber-attacks on the ground), then the Chinese focus on this relationship, due to the extent and scope of the formation of the defense and military positions of the US Department of Defense “the Pentagon” and the military alliance of NATO towards directing the future conflict of linking and the relationship between Ukraine and Taiwan, and their influence on China. China is well aware of the most important and most prominent (logistical differences between Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and any possible attack it might have made in its efforts to annex Taiwan). Here, I can analyze China’s assertive position, that it cannot invade Taiwan’s borders in a scenario similar to the Russian army’s incursion into Ukrainian territory. Where China will work to search where the opportunity lies and how to take advantage of the Ukrainian crisis. Here, China will try to achieve balance in its dealings with the developments of events in Ukraine. Therefore, China is also trying to play (the role of neutrality Diplomacy regarding the burning crisis between Russia and Ukraine), and it is not expected that China will act in the same way that Russia did. Ukraine. Most notably to me, is what I analyzed about the extent of (the Taiwanese realization of the possibility of exploiting Russia’s war against Ukraine to ignite the situation against Taiwan and prepare the atmosphere for China to launch a war on it), for the benefit of other parties benefiting from that to achieve their interests, on the top of them, which are: the Western powers from the members of the military alliance of NATO, led by the United States of America, and its Ministry of Defense “Pentagon”, are all seeking to ignite a confrontation between China and Taiwan to play primarily on their interests, which was confirmed by Taiwan’s President “Tsai Ing-wen” herself, that: “Taiwan will continue to strengthen its defenses to confront the war of propaganda and rumors, which is led by foreign powers inside Taiwan, with the aim of exploiting the situation in Ukraine to spread misinformation with the aim of weakening the morale of the Taiwanese people”.

Non-Unique: NATO military expansion

Reuters, 4-9, 22, CORRECTED-NATO plans full-scale military presence at border, says Stoltenberg – The Telegraph

NATO is working on plans for a full-scale military presence on its border in an effort to battle future Russian aggression, The Telegraph reported, citing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO was “in the midst of a very fundamental transformation” that will reflect “the long-term consequences” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, Stoltenberg said in an interview with the newspaper. “What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a longer-term adaptation of NATO,” it cited Stoltenberg as saying. Stoltenberg, who recently said he would extend his term as head of the alliance by a year, also said in the interview that decisions on the reset would be made at a NATO summit to be held in Madrid in June. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War Two and led Western nations to rethink their defense policies. (Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis and John Stonestreet)

Russia engaging in cyberwar in the Ukraine and it threatens NATO countries

Catler & Black, 4-6, 22, DAVID CATTLER is Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security at NATO. DANIEL BLACK is Principal Analyst in the Cyber Threat Analysis Branch at NATO, The Myth of the Missing Cyberwar Russia’s Hacking Succeeded in Ukraine—And Poses a Threat

After Russia invaded Ukraine, many observers initially expected cyberattacks to steal the limelight as a major instrument in Russia’s arsenal. But after a month of fighting, a host of prominent scholars and analysts of cyberconflict have reached the opposite conclusion. Russia’s activities in cyberspace, they claim, have been paltry or even nonexistent. They have dismissed the role of cyber-operations, variously proposing that digital preparations for the invasion in Ukraine never occurred, were haphazard or lacked any real impact, or were mere continuations of Russia’s long-term cyber-activity against Ukraine that fell below the threshold of outright war.

This is a dangerous misdiagnosis. All available evidence indicates that Russia has employed a coordinated cyber-campaign intended to provide its forces with an early advantage during its war in Ukraine. The apparent disconnect between these observed incidents, on the one hand, and the public analysis that Russian cyber-operations have been minimal, on the other, is jarring. Preconceived notions of the role of cyberattacks on the battlefield have made it hard for analysts to see cyber-operations in Ukraine for what they are and for the role they play within Russia’s military campaign. Leaning on these preconceptions will only lead to future policy and intelligence failures. Cyberspace is still a nascent domain of operations, and events in Ukraine will have outsized implications not just for any appreciation of Russian cyberpower but for an understanding of the nature of cyberconflict itself.


The belief that cyber-operations have played no role in Ukraine does not stem from a lack of real-world impact. To the contrary, the magnitude of Moscow’s pre-kinetic destructive cyber-operations was unprecedented. On the day the invasion began, Russian cyber-units successfully deployed more destructive malware—including against conventional military targets such as civilian communications infrastructure and military command and control centers—than the rest of the world’s cyberpowers combined typically use in a given year.

The cumulative effects of these attacks were striking. In the hours prior to invasion, Russia hit a range of important targets in Ukraine, rendering the computer systems of multiple government, military, and critical infrastructure sectors inoperable. Forensic analysis by Microsoft, the cybersecurity company Symantec, and the Slovak firm ESET has found that these attacks affected numerous government agencies, military institutions, civil emergency services, and a range of other critical infrastructure sectors such as defense industrial base manufacturers, information technology services, and energy companies directly relevant to Ukraine’s military capacity.

Cyber-enabled sabotage also knocked offline the satellite Internet provider KA-SAT, which Ukraine’s military, intelligence, and police units depend on. Victor Zhora, the deputy chief of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection, has characterized the satellite outage as “a really huge loss in communications in the very beginning of war.” U.S. defensive cyberspace operations prevented further Russian attacks from disrupting the railway networks that were being used to transport military supplies and help millions of Ukrainian citizens evacuate.

Russia continues to draw from its wartime arsenal of cybertools, deploying additional destructive malware on a weekly basis. Cities under siege from Russian shelling, including Kharkiv and Kyiv, have experienced cyber-enabled disruptions to Internet services. Ukraine’s national cyber-authorities continue to expose intrusion attempts by Russian and Belarussian cyber-units. All of this has occurred against the backdrop of a series of website defacements, denial-of-service attacks, and other destabilizing cyber-operations intended to produce chaos and further exhaust Ukraine’s cyberdefenses.

If observers see this cyber-offensive as a series of isolated events, its scale and strategic significance get lost in the conventional violence unfolding in Ukraine. But a full accounting of the cyber-operations reveals the proactive and persistent use of cyberattacks to support Russian military objectives. The misperception that Russia has been restrained or ineffective in the prosecution of its cyberwar on Ukraine likely stems from the fact that Russia’s cyber-operations have not had the standalone, debilitating effects that assessments before the war imagined they would have. But those assessments pose an unrealistic test of strategic value. No single domain of operations has an independent, decisive effect on the course of war. Nevertheless, the lack of overwhelming “shock and awe” in cyberspace has led to the flawed presumption that Russia’s cyber-units are incapable, and even worse, that cyber-operations have offered Russia no strategic value in its invasion of Ukraine.


Analysts should assess the use of cyberpower in its proper context. Evaluating Russia’s cyber-operations in Ukraine is impossible without accounting for the multiple tactical and strategic errors that have bedeviled other aspects of Moscow’s military campaign. Russian planners expected a swift victory in Ukraine, but their strategy failed for multiple reasons: inadequate coordination and preparation, the underestimation of the strength and resilience of Ukraine’s military, and various intelligence lapses. Russia’s missteps and struggles have almost certainly hurt its ability to fully employ its cyber-program in support of its conventional forces.

But even with those limitations, Russian cyber-units successfully attacked a range of targets in accordance with Russia’s war plans. Russian cyberattacks on government and military command and control centers, logistics, emergency services, and other critical services such as border control stations were entirely consistent with a so-called thunder run strategy intended to stoke chaos, confusion, and uncertainty, and ultimately avoid a costly and protracted war in Ukraine. Indeed, Russian cyber-units have demonstrated their ability to succeed without a great deal of advance warning and direction, and despite the overarching difficulties hampering Russia’s military effort.

The magnitude of Moscow’s cyberattacks on Ukraine has been unprecedented.

The reason for this relative success lies in the unique nature of competition and conflict in cyberspace. Unlike troop buildups or other forms of military mobilization that are infrequent and highly visible, cyber-operations are the result of operational cycles that occur covertly and continuously through peacetime and wartime. The targeting of sensitive networks during peacetime lets attackers lay the groundwork for malware intended for wartime use. The methods attackers use to establish initial footholds for espionage activities are indistinguishable from those that precede cyberattacks. For cyber-units, war does not fundamentally change the way they prepare or start to fight.

Russia’s cyberattacks prior to the invasion suggest methodical preparations, with the attackers likely gaining access to Ukrainian networks months ago. This stands in stark contrast to the evident lack of preparation across Moscow’s other military instruments, including on the ground, in the air, and in its frequently used influence operations through media and social media. Russian cyber-units did not need direct military orders to prepare for the invasion or to generate new capabilities for the war. The operational realities of cyberspace required them to be ready well in advance. Russian cyber-units will probably continue to be in a state of permanent readiness and capable of supporting tactical and strategic objectives on short notice, either in Ukraine or beyond, as the war persists.

The emerging consensus that claims Russian cyber-operations were ineffective misses the bigger picture. Russia’s strategy failed to capitalize on the full capabilities and numerous operational successes of its cyber-units. For instance, Russian cyber-units have not yet shut down electricity or Internet connectivity on a massive scale in Ukraine. That does not mean Russia is incapable of such attacks, as some observers have suggested, but that it envisioned a swift victory and did not see the need for such widespread, indiscriminate disruptions. In all likelihood, Russian military units were reliant on Ukrainian civil infrastructure for their planned seizure of Kyiv and could not risk blowback to their own operations. Russia is almost certainly capable of cyberattacks of greater scale and consequence than events in Ukraine would have one believe. Moscow has significantly improved its ability to conduct comprehensive cyber-operations in recent years and has actively invested in its cyber-capabilities, developing new and harder-to-detect variants of its more advanced malware and operational infrastructure.


The war in Ukraine is not over. Russia has been forced to change its operational approach, and Western intelligence points to Moscow shifting toward a strategy of attrition. With the likelihood that the conflict will become a protracted war, Russia will probably not exercise restraint in its use of additional disruptive and destructive cyber-actions. Russian President Vladimir Putin is most likely to double down on early cyber-successes and seek to further disrupt and undermine government, military, and civilian infrastructure, as well as defense industrial base enterprises. Russia’s recent attempts to strike the same targets it hit on the day of the invasion with additional destructive malware indicate this new phase of the conflict is well underway.

Although less visible than cyberattacks, cyber-enabled espionage—the theft of sensitive information, in this case from Ukrainian networks—is also likely to play a grisly role in the Russian offensive. Russia’s Federal Security Service has allegedly used personal information stolen from Ukrainian federal databases to draw up kill lists of people who could lead a Ukrainian resistance movement in the event of a Russian victory. And as the war carries on, Russia may be increasingly tempted to tap into the latent strategic potential of hacking collectives aligned with the Kremlin that specialize in ransomware and can unleash chaos at a moment’s notice.

Western policymakers should also be prepared for cyber-operations to spread beyond the confines of Ukraine. Several Russian cyber-operations since the invasion have already had spillover effects into NATO countries, affecting critical sectors and civilian Internet connectivity across Europe. Russia knowingly accepted the risk that its cyberattacks would cause collateral damage and has a history of similar reckless behavior. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Annual Threat Assessment released in March judged that “Russia is particularly focused on improving its ability to target critical infrastructure … in the United States as well as in allied and partner countries.” Active Russian preparations for future cyber-operations indicate that this not an idle threat.

Cyber-operations have been Russia’s biggest military success to date in the war in Ukraine. They will continue to provide Moscow a flexible tool capable of hitting a range of targets in Ukraine and beyond. Disregarding their unprecedented use will only leave policymakers and analysts unprepared for what’s next. A clear-eyed view of the role cyberwarfare has played so far in Ukraine and a better understanding of its place in modern warfare are imperatives for NATO’s collective security and for managing the risks of escalation looming in cyberspace.

Cyber attacks threaten the entire economy, the US must defend against

Danielle Jablanski, 4-5, 12, Danielle Jablanski is an OT Cybersecurity Strategist at Nozomi Networks, responsible for researching global cybersecurity topics and promoting OT and ICS cybersecurity awareness throughout the industry. In 2022 she also joined the Atlantic Council as a non-resident fellow with the Cyber Statecraft Initiative in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, focusing on operational technology and workforce development issues, Why Cyber Holds the Entire World at Risk,

Cyber policy today has created a world in which seemingly everything non-military can be held at risk—hospitals, trains, dams, energy, water—and nothing is off limits.

“Cyber” as a field of study is riddled with poor analogies as takes on cyber strategy and statecraft continue to get hotter with no boiling point in sight. With the dawn of digitization, scholars and pundits alike began to predict a multipolar world in which digital interdependence of society and economy would hamstring great power competition. The truth is it only makes it uglier.

The United States maintains a posture in which persistent engagement and an ability to preemptively defend forward in cyberspace are vital, despite unknown answers to questions about cyber escalation and second-strike survivability. The idea is to curtail and diminish potential threats before a real attack. At the same time, there is a thriving global private sector for cybersecurity products and solutions which is increasingly lucrative and largely unregulated. As with anything based in technology, the largest hurdle for both is scalability.

At their core, cyber capabilities present individuals and nation-states with a fundamental cost-benefit analysis. For individuals, the benefits of good, bad, or in-between-motivated hacking (definition is dealers’ choice) might outweigh the costs or consequences. And for nation-states with full-spectrum offensive capabilities and plenty of resources, the potential for threat actors and adversaries to hold civilian infrastructure and private sector companies at risk has yet to cost or cause consequences that call into question the utility of those full-spectrum capabilities.

To date, one of the oldest analogies in cyber is to consider adversaries’ full-spectrum cyber weapons to be as destructive as nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Theorists postulate the applicability of mutually assured destruction and deterrence within the nature of cyber conflict despite the invisibility of code and data transfers; its transnational, borderless theater; and the spectrum and crowdsourcing of actors involved. However, cyber is much more akin to the regulation of nuclear energy than the use of nuclear weapons.

The internet and digital infrastructure—websites, payments, applications, data centers, etc.—power services and benefit the world in the same way that nuclear reactors power cities. Certain tactics, tools, and procedures in cyberspace can grant unwarranted access into computer and information systems for research, reconnaissance, disruption, extortion, and destruction. Similarly, nuclear reactors are vastly used to produce electricity, and can also be used to enrich plutonium and uranium into weapons-grade fissile material. In both cases, the technology is nearly identical, but the intent along with the tactics, tools, and procedures actualized are as different in practice as midnight and midday. In nuclear, however, the decision and intent to create a weapon is traceable and trackable, where the transfer and management of uranium and plutonium are inventoried, detected, counted, and monitored, and the building of reactors and weapons facilities is incredibly difficult to hide. In cyber, there is astonishingly less visibility and clarity into the decision and intent to both develop and deliver a cyber weapon, and what constitutes a destructive payload vs. a real cyber “weapon.” Nuclear weapons policy is home to the “always, never” doctrine where weapons must be capable and effective to launch every hour of every day of every year but must never be triggered or launched by accident or miscalculation. The reason that nuclear weapons are the most well-secured technology on Earth is not because they are the most easily secured, but because they are the least tolerant of tampering and accidents. Throughout history, accidents have included a wrench falling through a silo, a warhead falling out of a plane, and sunlight messing with advanced warning sensors. Nuclear energy, conversely, tolerates very little down time and prioritizes constant productivity, resilience, and redundancy of physical processes over the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data in operations. These operations, like many adjacent critical infrastructure and industrial sectors, have evolved over time to introduce network connectivity, increased digitization, and internet connectivity for operations and back-office activities to drive new insights and efficiencies and boost productivity. Because they are not military targets, they have all become potential targets for cyber weapons.

Everything Is Cyber and Cyber Is Everything

Cyber policy today has created a world in which seemingly everything non-military can be held at risk—hospitals, trains, dams, energy, water—and nothing is off limits. The ubiquity of technology, devices, and data paired with the fluid and multi-agency nature of cyber exploitation have led to the targeting of sectors outside the historical boundaries of conflict.

The sixteen critical infrastructures in the United States represent everything from finance to communications to transportation to healthcare, electricity, manufacturing, food production, pharmaceuticals, and more. There are digital components and connectivity across each of these vital sectors and the potential for exploitation or accidents associated with each digital component directly or consequently. That includes hundreds of thousands of locations and entities at risk with millions of hardware and software components at play.

The nature of the risks associated with everything becoming cyber are simple and stagnant; Hardware and software vulnerabilities continue to manifest. Connecting critical assets, control systems, and devices to unmanaged or insecure networks continues unabated. Limited understanding of the threat landscape and outdated or static security policies are the rule rather than the exception. The incorporation of remote access without security controls, including by third-party providers of hardware and software for end users, is growing. And the widespread availability of tacit knowledge to effectively target and exploit hardware and software systems, either directly or in-part by attacking their supply chain, is vast.

Given this reality, the possible scenarios for catastrophe quickly become exponential. And given the cyber-physical nature of critical infrastructure—where data inputs and digital commands produce physical effects in the real world—the cybersecurity of industries we rely on to produce goods, resources, and services has come sharply into view. The question now is not how to reduce the threat landscape, but instead to introduce stop gaps in the places adversaries will likely exploit technologies, and to proactively fortify operations that are technically outside the realm of typical government oversight.

Messaging vs. Signaling

The credibility crisis that has faced American policy over the last two decades makes no exception when it comes to messaging vs. signaling in cyberspace. Messaging has taken on a larger-than-life doctrine of omnipresent willpower and capital to defend forward, with strong rhetoric to dissuade enemies and threat actors from crossing an imaginary red line in cyberspace. Economies that are heavily dependent on communications and digital transactions for banking and healthcare or airports and seaports for trade and transit continue to bolster their cybersecurity doctrine with determined rhetoric about threats and defense. In practice, however, the majority of sectors we consider critical are sitting ducks.

Signaling continues to transmit the perception that digital ecosystems and infrastructures all over the world are well understood, and fair game, even if unpoliced, while critical infrastructure anticipates its next ambush. This lack of credible definition and policing leads to a common operating picture of little actual understanding of threats, no real tripwire, and that the private sector must bear the brunt of attacks and pick up the pieces in the aftermath. At the same time, the material impacts of high-profile attacks—NotPetya, SolarWinds, TRISIS, the Colonial Pipeline—have become red herrings leading policymakers to fear hypothetical worse attacks instead of working back from the most realistic worst-case scenarios per sector. Cybersecurity in practice is just now shifting from conversations about the likelihood of being victimized, to the reduction of severity once attacked.

Target Practice

In the cybersecurity community, it is well understood that you cannot protect every piece of hardware, software, code, connectivity, privilege, and access at all times. Instead, security is baked into redundant compensating controls to thwart threat actors’ efforts in line with their overall objectives and cost/benefit calculations. Inventories of technologies, processes, and policies are analyzed against logged communications and security information from machines and platforms, sometimes automated, to identify gaps and address operational and functional risks.

Luckily, no payload in cyberspace is nearly as destructive as an atomic bomb. Unfortunately, the list of potentially devastating accidents or mishaps that overwhelm local resources and/or cause immense public panic is likely immeasurable. The targeting of nuclear weapons is extremely strategic, precise, and well understood. Experts argue that keeping missile silos operational is a net benefit because an adversary would need to target that silo in an attack to fend off a counterstrike, and that targeting would potentially save a city.

In cyberspace, there is and will continue to be constant probing and reconnaissance for target practice but gaining unadministered access does not directly correlate to malicious intent or attack. Adversaries in cyberspace do not simply throw darts at the wall to find and attack their next targets but do approach extortion and disruption in an ever-opportunistic fashion. The only solution is not to figure out the potential that a given target is the next victim, but to make the most critical targets continuously less attractive.

The next wave of cyber scholars and pundits will hopefully move away from the recent focus on cyber hygiene—which by definition is relative—to focus on the subjective nature of cybersecurity mechanism deployed to compensate for gaps and vectors in the massive cyber threat landscape. The only way to address cyber policy is with an overall effort to reduce the success or benefit of any cyberattack, and the government cannot do this alone. It is and should be demonstrably a shared responsibility across partner and vendor ecosystems. Creating less attractive and lucrative targets has a trickle-down effect across supply chains and interdependencies—rather than shifting liability and blame between technology developers and customers or operators. We should all take that responsibility very seriously.

Deterrence will hold, no nuclear escalation

Limor Simhony, a policy advisor and researcher based in London, 4-1, 22,  She was previously the director of counterextremism at the political consultancy firm TRD Policy and a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies,, NATO Intervention in Ukraine Won’t Spark World War III

The most widely discussed reason is the concern that Russia will use nuclear weapons if NATO intervenes militarily. Putin has reasserted Russia’s right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, making this a legitimate concern. However, it is more likely that nuclear deterrence—albeit different to Cold War deterrence—will hold. Russia’s deployment of nuclear weapons, either against Ukraine or against a NATO member state, could incur devastating consequences for Russia. As then-U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in 2018, dismissing the notion that tactical nuclear weapons are somehow a lesser threat, “Any nuclear weapon used … is a strategic game-changer.” Therefore, if NATO retaliates with a powerful response, either nuclear or conventional, it may target strategic Russian military positions and perhaps even sites of political power, aiming at wiping out Russian military capabilities and targeting those in positions of authority—a move that could threaten Putin’s leadership. A NATO retaliation should therefore be considered a major threat to Putin, especially because rivals include numerous nations with considerable nuclear capabilities, such as the United States, United Kingdom, and France. Sensitivity to casualties—specifically deaths among troops—has become a major element affecting liberal democracies’ war preparedness, use of force, and decision-making. In addition, at the heart of this conflict stands national identity. Putin has little motivation to devastate a county that he wishes to annex and has not knowingly made any preparations for using nuclear weapons. Fear of the bomb accounts for one reason behind the West’s decision to leave Ukraine to fight on its own.

Putin’s popular, has developed a strong sense of nationalism, will engage in mass destruction, and will threaten all of Europe

Andrew Sullivan, 3-25, 22,, Weekly Dish, The Strange Rebirth Of Imperial Russia

“The huge iceberg Russia, frozen by the Putin regime, cracked after the events in Crimea; it has split from the European world, and sailed off into the unknown,” – Vladimir Sorokin, New York Review of Books, 2017. The greatest mistake liberals make when assessing reactionaryism is to underestimate it. There is a profound, mesmerizing allure — intensified by disillusion with the shallows of modernity — to the idea of recovering some great meaning from decades or centuries gone by, to resurrect and resuscitate it, to blast away all the incoherence and instability of post-modern life into a new collective, ancient meaning. Even when it’s based on bullshit. You’d be amazed how vacuous slogans about returning to a mythical past — “Make America Great Again!”, “Take Back Control!” — can move public opinion dramatically in even the most successful modern democracies. That’s one reason it’s self-defeating for liberals to press for maximal change in as many things as possible. National identity, fused often with ethnic heritage, has not disappeared in the human psyche — as so many hoped or predicted. It has been reborn in new and strange forms. Now is the time of monsters, so to speak. Best not to summon up too many. This, it seems to me, is what many of us have missed about the newly visible monster of post-Communist Russia. It would be hard to conjure up a period of post-modern bewilderment more vividly than Russia in the post-Soviet 1990s. A vast empire collapsed overnight; an entire totalitarian system, long since discredited but still acting as some kind of social glue and cultural meaning, unraveled in chaos and confusion. Take away a totalitarian ideology in an instant, and a huge vacuum of meaning will open up, to be filled by something else. We once understood this. When Nazi Germany collapsed in total military defeat, the West immediately arrived to reconstruct the society from the bottom up. We de-Nazified West Germany; we created a new constitution; we invested massively with the Marshall Plan, doing more for our previous foe than we did for a devastated ally like Britain. We filled the gap. Ditto post-1945 Japan. But we left post-1991 Russia flailing, offering it shock therapy for freer markets, insisting that a democratic nation-state could be built — tada! — on the ruins of the Evil Empire. We expected it to be reconstructed even as many of its Soviet functionaries remained in place, and without the searing experience of consciousness-changing national defeat. What followed in Russia was a grasping for coherence, in the midst of national humiliation. It was more like Germany after 1918 than 1945. It is no surprise that this was a near-perfect moment for reactionism to stake its claim. It came, like all reactionary movements, not from some continuous, existing tradition waiting to be tweaked or deepened, but from intellectuals, making shit up. They created a near-absurd mythology they rescued from the 19th and early 20th centuries — packed with pseudo-science and pseudo-history. Russia was not just a nation-state, they argued; it was a “civilization-state,” a whole way of being, straddling half the globe and wrapping countless other nations and cultures into Mother Russia’s spiritual bosom. Russians were genetically different — infused with what the reactionary theorist Lev Gumilev called “passionarity” — a kind of preternatural energy or will to power. They belonged to a new order — “Eurasia” — which would balance the Atlantic powers of the US and the UK, and help govern the rest of the world. In his riveting book, “Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism,” British journalist Charles Clover recounts how mystical and often fictional accounts of Russian history pre-1917 endured through suppression in much of the Soviet era only to burst into new life under Vladimir Putin. Clover’s summary: The [reactionaries] argued that their native Russia, rather than being a branch of the rationalistic West, was the descendant of the Mongol Horde — a legacy that the Bolshevik Revolution, with all its savagery, seemed to confirm. They saw in the Revolution some promise of a future — a shedding of Western conformity and the rebirth of authentic Russianness, a Biblical event, a cataclysm that brings earthly beatitude. Alrighty then. But a civilization that sees itself as the modern incarnation of the Steppe Mongol tribes who ransacked cities and towns wherever they went is not quite a regular, Westphalian nation-state, is it? Nothing in modernity’s political structures quite captures it — because it is a pre-modern concept: mystical, spiritual, with no border to the north but frozen darkness, and no firm border between its neighbors to the south and west either. And, of course, in the 1990s and 2000s, this fantastic vision of a new Russia appealed to youngsters, hipsters, gamers, and online freaks, in a similar fashion to alt-righters in the West at the time, and often with the same ironic lulz. A key figure here is Aleksandr Dugin, a guitar-strumming poet who resurrected Gumilev’s theories by writing “The Foundations of Geopolitics.” That book is perhaps the best guide to understanding where Putin is coming from, and what Russia now is. Dugin has the same post-modern worldview as the woke left and alt right in the US: nothing is true; everything is power; and power must be exercised. For Dugin, “all ideology is mere language games or camouflaged power relations; all politics is simulacrum and spectacle; all ‘discourses’ are equal, as is all truth,” Clover writes. So of course it doesn’t matter if history is invented, lies repeated, myths invoked as facts. For the Russian reactionaries, just as for the critical race theorists, history is a tool to be manipulated and wielded to gain power, not a truth to be discovered and debated. And when Dugin pontificates about the West’s desire to dismember Russia, or sees the Cold War not as a fight between liberalism and communism, but between “sea people” and “land people,” you’re never quite sure if he’s serious or not. Was the long standoff between the US and USSR really “a planetary conspiracy of two ‘occult’ forces, whose secret confrontations and unwitnessed battle has determined the course of history”? Or is he just out for attention? But for Putin, it didn’t seem to matter. Dugin’s and Gumilev’s ideas were perfectly attuned to a post-truth dictatorship, crafted by relentless TV propaganda and opinion polling, and gave him a rationale for a post-ideological regime. So from 2009 onwards, Putin started using words like “passionarity” and “civilization-state,” rejecting a Western-style Russian nation-state, in favor of a multi-ethnic empire, in line with “our thousand-year history.” Putin went on in 2011 to propose a “Eurasian Union” to counter the EU. It’s worth noting here that this is not Russian ethnic nationalism: the whole point is that there are many distinct ethnicities in the Russian Empire, all united in the protective motherland. When today, Putin insisted that cultural diversity is Russia’s strength, this is what he meant. In all this, the contours of Dugin’s thought is pretty obvious: “The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us.” Putin’s seething resentment of the West, his inferiority complex, his paranoia are all echoed in Dugin’s sometimes hypnotic prose — as Putin’s latest diatribes show. And yes, this is a kind of international culture war, which is why illiberal rightists across the West warm to the thug in the Kremlin — and why Putin just invoked JK Rowling as a fellow victim of cancel culture. Dugin’s view of Ukraine? “Kill! Kill! Kill! There can be no other discussion. This is my opinion as a professor,” he told a magazine in 2014. A joke or not? As with many of Dugin’s provocations, hard to tell. Putin distanced himself a little afterwards. Religion is part of this new Russia, as it is in American reactionism. Like America’s religious right, Dugin’s version of Orthodoxy has replaced Christian faith with Christianism — a fusion of politics and religious tradition in defense of a single charismatic leader’s authority — and against cultural liberals and their “gender freedoms.” How earnest is this? About as earnest as Donald Trump’s “faith.” But negative polarization — the consuming hatred of Western liberalism — keeps the show on the road, even in a country where actual belief in God is hard to find. Support independent media There is a tendency to talk of Russia as if Putin has hijacked the country, wresting it away from the West, and from being a “normal country.” I wish that were true. Putin is closer to many Russians’ view of the world than we’d like to believe; his popularity soared after the seizure of Crimea; his mastery of modern media manipulation means his war propaganda can work at home — at least for a while. Most Russians see Ukraine as indelibly Russian, and they certainly don’t support a fully independent nation-state allied with the EU and NATO. This was the view of figures as disparate as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, George Kennan, and Joseph Brodsky in their time. And if you want to grasp the power of nationalism in Russia, remember that Alexei Navalny, Putin’s greatest potential foe, has built his career on it. All of this, it seems to me, tells us something about this moment: the invasion of Ukraine is part of a now-established narrative of Russia defending its civilization against the liberal West. It is wrapped up in history and religion and a sense that Russia means nothing if it is just another nation-state, what Russophobe John McCain called a “gas station masquerading as a country,” wedged between Europe and China. For years now, Putin has built his legitimacy as a “gatherer of the lands” of his Russian ancestors, buttressed by a near-eugenic understanding of Russian identity: “We are a victorious people! It is in our genes, in our genetic code. It is transferred from generation to generation, and we will have victory!” That seems preposterous — at least right now, as Russian troops in Ukraine take massive casualties and remain stuck in a stalemate. It proves reactionaryism’s core weakness: its alienation from reality and the present. You can theorize endlessly about Eurasia, the glories of Empire and the legacy of the Mongols, but if your tanks keep getting blown up, your communications don’t work, and your troops are poorly trained, it will all look pretty ridiculous soon. More to the point, if your nostalgia for imperial nationalism confronts real actual living nationalism among those you’re invading, it will also lose. The crudeness of the invasion, its cruelty and incompetence have all conjured up a far stronger Ukrainian identity — among Russian and Ukrainian speakers — than ever before. And if your worldview is built on esoteric theory from hipster fascists, and you ignore how countries shift in real time in practice, you’ll misunderstand your enemy. What Ukraine has gone through in the past decade has changed it. What it has endured this past month has transformed it. In one terrible mistake, Putin has been more successful at nation-building than the US has been for two decades. He has built a new Ukraine even as he continues to carpet-bomb it. Which is, of course, the caveat. The invasion of Ukraine is integral to the entire edifice of the Putin era. It is what everything has been leading up to — from Chechnya to Syria. If it ends in manifest failure, Putin is finished. But if it becomes a grinding, hideous war of attrition; if the West loses interest (as we surely will); if exhaustion hits Ukraine itself and Russia is able to pulverize and terrorize it from a distance, I’m not so sure. At the very least, Putin may succeed in the permanent annexation of the Donbas and Crimea, claim he has disarmed the “Nazis” in Ukraine, milk the conflict for a jingoistic boost, and declare victory. Russia tends to win wars of attrition — whether against Hitler or Napoleon, or in Chechnya and Syria. Russian regimes have little compunction in the mass murder of civilians or brutal destruction of towns and cities where their enemies live. Putin has a narrative into which all of this fits, and the extraordinary sanctions — an economic nuclear bomb — imposed on Moscow will feed into his story of the persecution of Russia and the perfidy and hypocrisy of the West. Putin could become like Assad, his puppet, turning Mariupol into Aleppo, testing chemical weapons, but with a nuclear capacity to turn the planet to dust. Sanctions? Putin will use them, as Saddam did, to further demonize the West, and sing the praises of Russian stoicism and endurance. I pray he fails. But Putin is not without allies. China, Brazil, India, Israel — they’re all hedging their bets, alongside much of the global South. And the invasion of Iraq and the US abandonment of the Geneva Conventions have greatly undermined any moral authority the West once might have had in the eyes of many in the developing world. This story is not over. Nor is this war. Nor the project Putin has constructed. It may, in fact, just be beginning.

Deterrence fails, nuclear escalation likely

Matthew Harries, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. March 22, 2022, Putin’s Brutal War Shows the Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterren, Foreign Policy,

The first conclusion to draw from all this is that nuclear deterrence is an inherently risky way of managing relations between great powers. Because deterrence is neither automatic nor static, there is no way to reap its prime benefit—discouraging war between nuclear-armed states—without some real chance of nuclear weapons being used, even if the probability is low. Unusable weapons cannot deter, and the risk of nuclear use will be present during any crisis of the sort currently seen in Ukraine. What’s more, the strong normative taboo against nuclear weapons means that the most reckless party to a conflict can extract the most value from playing with nuclear risk. In this case, it is clearly Russia. Nuclear brinksmanship may become a feature of Europe’s security landscape in a way that its current generation of leaders have not experienced firsthand. These risks are compounded by the possibility of inadvertent escalation. With tensions high and Russia fighting in close proximity to NATO forces, a mistake or misjudgment could be the spark for a wider war. Yet despite its dangers, moving away from nuclear deterrence will be very difficult. Unless the war ends in Russian defeat and regime change, Russia’s leadership will probably reckon it has benefited greatly from possessing nuclear weapons and will be even less inclined to disarm. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is watching Russia’s brutal aggression, conducted under the cover of nuclear threats and inflicted on a non-nuclear country that, unlike NATO members, does not enjoy the United States’ nuclear backing. This has awakened a sense of existential threat in Europe and is likely to strengthen support for nuclear weapons where they already exist. It has already ensured, for example, an accelerated German decision to procure F-35 fighters to replace the aircraft currently equipped with NATO nuclear bombs. So, as things stand right now, Russia’s invasion may have killed off for a generation or more the idea of an orderly, multilateral process of nuclear disarmament. That process was imagined as a managed series of steps, starting with deep reductions to the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the United States and then drawing in the other nuclear-armed states, including China. It depended on the belief that nuclear weapons could be gradually moved to the background of world affairs. None of that seems likely today. Two drastic war outcomes—the use of nuclear weapons or Putin’s removal from power—could change this picture and even perhaps open up more sudden and disorderly paths to disarmament. A large-scale nuclear exchange would be a global catastrophe and remains unlikely. Yet if nuclear weapons were used in a limited way, there would be plausible pathways to further escalation. Indeed, nuclear deterrence relies on at least some fear of uncontrolled escalation in order to work. No risk, no deterrence. Nuclear use that did stay limited would still be a historic turning point, its meaning defined by the consequences imposed on Russia. If Russia were to use a small number of nuclear weapons with impunity and achieve concrete benefits, then, in addition to immediate humanitarian consequences, we would enter a dreadful new nuclear era. As well as killing off hopes for disarmament, Russian success could entice nuclear possessors to develop a broader range of limited options and even make use more likely elsewhere.

China is the biggest threat to US security, Europe can defend itself

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans,

The war has also exposed Russia’s persistent military deficiencies. Despite months of planning and preparation, the Russian invasion of far weaker Ukraine has been an embarrassing debacle for Russian President Vladimir Putin. No matter what he may hope, it is now obvious that Russia is simply not strong enough to restore its former empire—and will be even less so as Europe rearms. Moreover, even if Russia’s brutal tactics and superior numbers eventually force Ukraine to capitulate, Moscow’s power will continue to decline. Neither Europe nor the United States will return to business as usual with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, and the sanctions now in place will hamstring the battered Russian economy for years to come. Propping up a puppet regime in Kyiv would force Russia to keep a lot of unhappy soldiers on Ukrainian soil, facing the same stubborn insurgency that occupying armies typically encounter. And every Russian soldier deployed to police a rebellious Ukraine cannot be used to attack anyone else. The bottom line is that Europe can handle a future Russian threat on its own. NATO’s European members have always had far greater latent power potential than the threat to their east: Together, they have nearly four times Russia’s population and more than 10 times its GDP. Even before the war, NATO’s European members were spending three to four times as much on defense each year than Russia. With Russia’s true capabilities now revealed, confidence in Europe’s ability to defend itself should increase considerably. For these reasons, the war in Ukraine is an ideal moment to move toward a new division of labor between the United States and its European allies—one where the United States devotes attention to Asia and its European partners take primary responsibility for their own defense. The United States should drop its long-standing opposition to European strategic autonomy and actively help its partners modernize their forces. NATO’s next supreme allied commander should be a European general, and U.S. leaders should view their role in NATO not as first responders but as defenders of last resort. After 9/11, the United States got sidetracked into a costly so-called war on terrorism and a misguided effort to transform the greater Middle East. The Biden administration must not make a similar error today. Ukraine cannot be ignored, but it does not justify a deeper U.S. commitment to Europe once the present crisis is resolved. China remains the only peer competitor, and waging that competition successfully should remain the United States’ top strategic priority.

Transatlantic security cooperation needed to deter China

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the CEO of New America, March 22, 2022, Build Out the Trans-Atlantic World,

The consensus opinion about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is that we are at an inflection point in global affairs, that the post-Cold War era is now over, and that if Putin wins, he will have rewritten the rules of the liberal international order. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is horrific, brutal, and a flagrant violation of international law, and the West should do everything—short of engaging Russia directly—to help the Ukrainians fight Russian forces to a standstill. But is this invasion a difference of degree so great that it is a difference of kind? Putin already broke international law in precisely the same way in 2014, when he invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The United States violated the same pillar of the international order when it invaded Iraq without formal approval from the U.N. Security Council. Both the Soviet Union and the United States invaded countries they considered to be within their spheres of influence during the Cold War. The fundamental change today is not Putin’s war but China’s refusal to condemn it. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has written, pushing Moscow and Beijing closer together is a costly strategic byproduct of the Biden administration’s policy of challenging and containing China. A world in which China and Russia support each other in redrawing territorial maps and rewriting the rules of the international system—rather than working to gain influence within existing institutions—is a much more dangerous world. In this context, the folly of the Biden administration’s elevation of the U.S.-China rivalry as the focal point of its security policy is all the more evident. Washington should have focused on Europe first by building out a trans-Atlantic economic, political, security, and social agenda and expanding it as far as possible across the entire Atlantic hemisphere, both North and South. The best way to compete with China is to recognize that the continents that both Europe and the United States have treated as their backyards deserve front-yard treatment. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine underlines just how indispensable Europe is as a military ally but even more as an economic, moral, and legal partner. Europe, however, has a different perspective: Although the invasion appears to be convincing key European countries—above all, Germany—to increase their defense spending, they are not doing this to draw closer to the United States. Rather, they are preparing for a future in which Europe may no longer be able to count on U.S. support. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of purchasing a new generation of fighter jets and tanks but insisted they would have to be built in Europe with European partners. Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostility to NATO and the continuing dysfunction of the U.S. political system have rattled European leaders even as they appreciate the Biden administration’s assiduous diplomacy and staunch support. The United States should encourage all European efforts to develop a stronger and more coherent pan-European defense—not least because European military power will make Washington less likely to take Europe for granted. At the same time, the Biden administration should press ahead with a new trans-Atlantic trade and investment treaty and digital common market. The United States should also encourage European relationships with countries in the global south while acknowledging they are often freighted with postcolonial baggage. And after Putin’s demise, Washington should support Europe in building a new security architecture from the Atlantic to the Urals, perhaps with intersecting and overlapping circles of defense cooperation among groups of countries. NATO will never be able to stretch to the Pacific, so other frameworks should be pursued.

Strong alliances needed to deter both Russia and China dominance

By C. Raja Mohan, a columnist at Foreign Policy and senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, March 22, 2022, Empower Alliances and Share Burdens,

Unlike the Trump administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy, which viewed both Russia and China equally as threats, the Biden administration focused mainly on China in its 2021 interim guidance. U.S. President Joe Biden even reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin in pursuit of a stable and predictable relationship that could let Washington focus on its priorities in the Indo-Pacific. Unsurprisingly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about the sustainability of Biden’s tilt toward the Indo-Pacific. Does the United States have enough political bandwidth and military resources to cope with simultaneous challenges in both Europe and Asia? Some in Asia now worry that the threat posed by Russia in Europe could compel Biden to ease the confrontation with China and return to a China-first strategy in the region. Notwithstanding Washington’s diplomatic attempts to enlist Beijing’s help in stopping Putin’s war, the Feb. 4 joint proclamation of a Sino-Russian partnership with “no limits” by Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping precludes Biden from choosing between the European and Asian theaters. Further, the geopolitical trajectories of Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China are founded in a shared deep distrust of the United States. The room for either leader to negotiate a separate peace with Washington seems quite small; if anything, the prospect of a weakened Russia could bring them closer together. If Washington now faces both Chinese and Russian challenges, it must necessarily empower its allies and modernize burden-sharing arrangements in Asia and Europe. Fortunately, the Biden administration’s grand strategy has the space to do both. Its special emphasis on building what U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan calls a “latticework of flexible partnerships, institutions, alliances, [and] groups of countries” has already gained considerable traction in Asia. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it recently, the United States has developed a “five-four-three-two” formation in Asia—“from strengthening the Five Eyes to peddling the Quad, from piecing together AUKUS to tightening bilateral military alliances.” There could be no better endorsement of the Biden administration’s latticework in Asia. Thanks to Putin’s war in Ukraine, Europe’s prolonged sabbatical from geopolitics has come to an end. It is finally ready to do more for its own defense, including a historic German decision to rearm. If the United States’ European allies take greater responsibility for securing their homelands from the Russian threat, there is little reason for Washington to downgrade Asian concerns for the sake of European stability. Unlike the Europeans’ more recent epiphany, U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific—especially Australia, India, and Japan—have been ready to shoulder greater responsibilities for Asian security. Neither Asia nor Europe can balance China and Russia on its own for the foreseeable future. But by doing more for their own security, they help boost U.S. domestic political support for sustained military commitment to the two regions. By promoting a larger role and increased political say for its allies, Washington can build durable regional balances of power in Asia and Europe—backed by U.S. military power. That, in turn, might compel Beijing and Moscow to adopt more reasonable approaches to their neighbors and discard the belief that they can cut superpower deals with Washington over the heads of Asia and Europe. Shared security burdens and empowered alliances with the United States will make it easier for Asia and Europe to explore the balance of near-term containment of and long-term reconciliation with China and Russia. That outcome reinforces the enduring goal of U.S. grand strategy—to prevent the domination of either region by a single great power.

China-Russia ties threaten the global order

Marco Rubio, a Republican, represents Florida in the U.S. Senate, March 19, 2022,

The Chinese Communist Party has a long list of sins, including the systematic repression of basic human rights, industrial espionage, the use of slave labor and genocide. Now, the CCP’s complicity in the atrocities Russia is committing in Ukraine can be added to that list. Twenty-one years ago, China signed a “Treaty of Friendship” with Russia. It might have started as a marriage of convenience, but that relationship has grown only stronger over time, through cooperation at the United Nations, energy deals and military exercises. Earlier this year, the two nations pledged an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination. And over the past few weeks, Beijing has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression. With China’s support for Putin’s bogus excuses for invading Ukraine (the Chinese foreign ministry blamed the United States and NATO for pushing Russia to the “breaking point”), CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has once again made his strategic objective clear: dismantle democracies and replace them with authoritarian regimes to undermine, and eventually supplant, the U.S.-led world order. Of course, Beijing denies any foreknowledge of the invasion and plays semantic games to avoid openly endorsing Putin’s war. However, official documents speak for themselves. At the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Putin and Xi announced a “no limits” partnership to deepen their cooperation — likely a veiled reference to the impending attack on Ukraine. More damning, the New York Times reports, China told Russia to refrain from invading until after the Olympics, which is exactly what happened As war approached, China turned a blind eye to Moscow’s aggression, refusing to acknowledge it as an invasion. Even though Putin’s troops are now clearly committing war crimes in Ukraine, Beijing refuses to condemn them. This is yet another display of how little the CCP’s word is worth. China’s foreign minister paid lip service to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” at the Munich Security Conference right before the invasion. For decades, Beijing has claimed it espouses “non-interference” in other countries’ “internal affairs.” And the CCP consistently denies the validity of what it considers “separatist” movements in Taiwan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. By supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in “defense” of Russian-speaking separatists, Beijing has abandoned its supposed principles in favor of ruthless opportunism. The world now sees that the CCP’s claimed impartiality and commitment to sovereignty are a shameless, self-serving charade. That means every nation partnering with Beijing on infrastructure projects, technical investment and deployment, or advanced research should question the reliability and security of those relationships. It also means the United States and its European allies must resist perceiving China as a potential “tamer” of Putin, as the CCP might have us do. For many years, the free world has tried, in vain, to persuade Beijing to “tame” North Korea — this time will be no different. It is naive and dangerous to believe the United States has “shared interests” with a genocidal communist regime. The delusion that we could somehow identify such interests in the absence of shared values is responsible for decades of failed U.S. policy. Instead of cooperating with Beijing, the United States must act to prevent it from strengthening Putin and undermining freedom. Starved of funds from Europe and the United States, Russian banks are pinning their hopes on a lifeline from China’s financial system. If Beijing crafts a workaround to aid Putin, Americans’ money, in the form of trade and investment, will begin making its way to banks that help finance the Russian military’s campaign. We cannot let this happen — which is why I have introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on any Chinese bank that attempts to help Putin escape the penalties for waging war on Ukraine. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has laid bare to the world what some U.S. policymakers have been aware of for some time — that the Moscow-Beijing axis is real, and it is a growing threat to the United States and to freedom worldwide. So significant is the danger presented by this relationship that it demands a fundamental rethink of U.S. strategy. That begins with a willingness to punish Chinese support for Putin’s invasion. Xi hopes to reap the benefits of a “no limits” partnership with a dictator whose military bombs hospitals and slaughters civilians. To protect our national and economic security, we must ensure that Xi and the CCP pay a price for that partnership.

Russia-China Ties increasing


Russia continues to deepen its ties to China in an effort to curtail U.S. power and influence. Relations between Moscow and Beijing are probably their deepest since any time before the Sino-Soviet split. Both countries coordinate on high-priority geopolitical issues to maximize their power and influence while bilateral military cooperation continues to evolve—punctuated by a growing number of combined military exercises. In 2018, Moscow included the Chinese military in its largest annual exercise, VOSTOK2018, for the first time. Since then, China has participated in two other Russian capstone exercises, conducted two combined bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan, and circumnavigated Japan together in October 2021, marking their first combined maritime patrol. 20 The January Xi-Putin meeting, which resulted in 15 bilateral agreements and a joint statement opposing Western international security initiatives, probably reflects Putin’s intent to blunt the force of Western sanctions and strengthen the voice both countries use to espouse anti-western narratives. Moscow probably views Beijing as its most capable geopolitical partner, an alternative financial clearinghouse, and a key ally at the United Nations to undercut Western messaging and offset the harshest impact of sanctions. The extent to which China will help Russia mitigate the effects of sanctions as Russia’s economy declines further is not clear. However, Putin probably views his relationship with Xi as critical to alleviating the departure of credit card companies, creating a viable alternative to SWIFT, signing further energy deals, and leveraging Chinese technology

Emboldened by perceptions of US decline, Russia seeking global dominance


Russia continues to pursue its national security interests and geopolitical ambitions aggressively across the globe, acting from a position of increased confidence and emboldened by its perception that the United States is in a period of decline. Russia is steadily expanding its international profile, increasing its engagement with select countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America and is working to diminish U.S. influence around the globe. The Kremlin is seeking to establish military bases and air and naval access agreements with states in these regions to enhance its power projection capabilities and increase its regional influence. The Kremlin’s engagement with Pyongyang centers on the preservation of regional stability and promotion of Russia’s status on the peninsula. Russia has advocated for a comprehensive and negotiated settlement and opposes the use of force. Moscow agreed to UN sanctions against Pyongyang in 2017; however, Moscow sometimes skirts compliance issues because of business interests and a fear of destabilizing the North Korean regime. In addition, Russia coordinates its North Korea-related diplomacy with China, including a bilateral “Road Map” for peace, an initiative since 2017 that has aimed 21 to reduce tensions on the Peninsula through a dual-track approach to advance denuclearization and establish a peace mechanism. In the Middle East, Moscow continues to provide Syria with military, diplomatic, and economic support, while seeking to broker an end to the Asad regime’s international isolation and lobbying for economic aid to assist in Syria’s reconstruction. The Kremlin likely calculates this support along with its military presence in Syria will ensure its sway over the Asad regime, cement Moscow’s status as Syria’s preeminent foreign partner, and bolster Russian regional influence and power projection capability. Russia and Turkey continue to downplay their disagreements and compartmentalize their divergent foreign policy objectives in Syria and elsewhere in the region. Russia also continues to expand its involvement in Africa, highlighted by the activities of Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his Private Military Company Vagner. Vagner has conducted combat operations in the Central African Republic since 2017, Libya since 2019, and deployed to Mali in December 2021. More broadly, Russia uses arms sales, training, and bilateral defense agreements to establish lasting relationships on the continent. To enhance its power-projection capabilities and increase its regional advantage, Moscow continues to pursue military bases and air and naval access agreements in Africa, such as the planned naval logistics facility in Sudan. In Latin America, Moscow is focused largely on strengthening military ties with its traditional partners Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, offering training, arms sales, and weapons maintenance support. Russia has also threatened to increase its military presence in the region in response to U.S. support for Ukraine. Moscow continues to support disputed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with military and economic assistance, largely to protect its economic investments and thwart perceived efforts to remove President Maduro from power. Russian engagement with other Latin American governments remains minimal, but the Kremlin is open to opportunities for more extensive engagement. 22 Russia views the Arctic as a security and economic priority, seeking to exploit Arctic natural resources and develop the Northern Sea Route as a major international shipping lane. Russia is refurbishing Sovietera airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search and rescue centers, and building up its fleet of conventionally- and nuclear-powered icebreakers. Russia is also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems to strengthen its antiaccess/area-denial capabilities in the region. In May 2021, Russia assumed the two-year rotating Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an association of the eight Arctic nations intended to preserve the Arctic as a zone of peace and constructive cooperation. Russia intends to use the platform to attract investment in its Arctic projects and defend its national interests. Looking ahead, Russia will continue to pose a multifaceted threat to U.S. national security and its ability to lead and shape international developments while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have immediate and long-term consequences for European security and stability. Protracted occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory threatens to sap Russian military manpower and reduce their modernized weapons arsenal, while consequent economic sanctions will probably throw Russia into prolonged economic depression and diplomatic isolation that will threaten their ability to produce modern precision-guided munitions. As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength, Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is reviving fears of a more imperial and militaristic Russia, prompting requests from NATO allies for assurances that U.S. security guarantees will be honored. U.S. partners in the former Soviet Union will also look to the United States for signs that they are not being abandoned while adjusting their policies to coexist with a stronger and more emboldened Russia. Russian military modernization efforts will progress even as initial timelines for some programs may have to adjust to 23 likely new economic realities, and Moscow will continue to blend traditional displays of military might with other coercive political, economic, cyber, and information confrontation measures to achieve its geopolitical interests, delineate its redlines, and compel the United States to take its concerns more seriously. Moreover, U.S. efforts to undermine Russia’s goals in Ukraine, combined with its perception that the United States is a nation in decline, could prompt Russia to engage in more aggressive actions not only in Ukraine itself, but also more broadly in its perceived confrontation with the West.

Russian aggression threatens the global order

William Wohlforth, a professor of international politics at Dartmouth, 3-5, 22, How the war in Ukraine could change history,

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a world-historical event and the effects of it will likely ripple out for years to come. Since 1945, the world has done a remarkably good job of preventing wars between great powers and making the costs of unprovoked aggression extremely high. In a matter of days, Russia has upended this system. A major war, if not probable, is at least plausible — and that’s a significant shift. Countries across the globe — especially in Europe — are already rethinking their entire foreign policy, and that’s just the beginning. Every government will be watching closely to see what unfolds in Ukraine and whether the global response to Russia is able to deter even greater escalation. It’s worth remembering that we’re only a week into this war and things are changing by the day. And that is perhaps the scariest thing about this conflict: No one really knows how it will play out. Is this the end of the global order? Are we entering a new era of great power conflict? Are we already looking at World War III? To get some answers, I reached out to William Wohlforth, a professor of international politics at Dartmouth. Wohlforth studies the post-Cold War world and he’s a close observer of Russian foreign policy. I wanted to know what he thinks is truly at stake in this conflict, and if one of humanity’s greatest achievements — a rules-based system that nearly abolished the idea that nations can use brute force to take whatever they want — has come to an end. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Sean Illing When people say that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the end of the global order, what does that mean? William Wohlforth When the Soviet Union fell, we saw a revived and expanded order based on pretty liberal principles in most respects. And that was grounded on America’s unprecedented position of power in the international system. Vladimir Putin has never liked this order and the best way of interpreting what’s happening in Ukraine and Europe today is a struggle over that order. I hate to say it, but the fate of the global order hangs in the balance. That is what is being contested in Ukraine, because the post-Cold War order has been built on an architecture of security in Europe, based on NATO. And it was grounded on the principle that any state neighboring NATO could join it, except Russia. Russia never liked this, and it especially didn’t like the idea of extending this order to Ukraine. To be clear, I’m not justifying Russia’s behavior, I’m just explaining it. If they can succeed in at least forcing this order to stop, that will be, to some degree, a change from what existed after the end of the Cold War. Sean Illing Can they succeed? William Wohlforth It’s not clear. We’re seeing a fateful confrontation of different kinds of power with different actors, all concentrated on this struggle. There’s obviously the Ukrainians fighting way better than we thought, and the Russians are fighting worse than we thought. But there’s also this gigantic clash of economic statecraft happening between the United States and a huge array of allies. How that all pans out is still up in the air. What the terms of the settlement of this war will ultimately be are still up in the air. But underlying all of this is this question of whether Russia has the power to end the European order that it has faced essentially since 1991. Sean Illing Does Russia have that kind of power? William Wohlforth I don’t think they do. I don’t think they can achieve the grandiose aims they’ve laid out prior to this invasion. Their maximal aims are not just “No Ukraine in NATO,” but “No NATO in Ukraine,” meaning no military cooperation with Ukraine. And that NATO would essentially withdraw its military position back to what existed in 1997 before the first round of its session. Essentially, what they were asking for is a completely revised European security order. They’re not going to get that. Did they ever think they were going to get that? I doubt it, but I think this has always been about more than Ukraine. “THE WORLD HAS LIVED FOR 30 YEARS IN A HISTORICALLY PEACEFUL PERIOD AND THAT’S ABSOLUTELY AT STAKE” Sean Illing What would you say is truly at stake in this conflict? I’m asking for the average person watching it from a distance who doesn’t think much about the “global order,” who’s probably horrified by what they’re seeing, but just not sure how significant it is or why it matters beyond Ukraine. William Wohlforth Obviously the fate of Ukraine is at stake. The right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own cultural and geopolitical orientation is at stake — that’s the fundamental thing that’s being fought over in the streets and in the skies of Ukraine. But for the rest of the world, what’s at stake is a confrontation between two countries, the US and Russia, which together possess 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. Even though Russia seems insignificant economically, a festering contest between these two countries that continues to intensify would create the risk of serious escalation and that would be a threat to people everywhere. This is a very different kind of conflict than we’re used to. There will be major economic consequences, like inflation and rising energy prices and that sort of thing. But there is also potential insecurity if this develops into major cyber competition between the two sides. The freedom to travel, the sense of openness in the world, our sense of our collective economic prospects — that would all change. The world has lived for 30 years in a historically peaceful period and that’s absolutely at stake here. We’ve had devastating wars. We had them in the Global South. We had them even in the Balkans in the early 1990s. But we have not had a serious conflict between superpowers with vast arsenals of nuclear weapons looming in the background. Not even Al-Qaeda’s horrific attacks in the United States could produce the level of existential crisis we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the shadow of an extremely dangerous and unpredictable great power war hovering over the world, unless this thing finds some settlement that doesn’t leave the two sides completely and totally alienated and holding swords over each other’s heads. Sean Illing One of the great achievements of the modern age — maybe the greatest — is an international order that nearly abolished the idea that “might makes right,” that a strong country can take whatever it wants from a weaker country just because it has the power to do so. Is that over now? William Wohlforth Again, I hate to answer this way, but the best I can say is that it hangs in the balance. If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, if they accomplish their maximal objectives, then that’s a major dent in that order. For a long time, if a state was going to do something like this to a country, it had to come up with reasons that resonate with the rest of international society. There’s really good research on this by political scientists and historians showing how, even in the previous political age, most countries, when they went to war, they tried to find a reason that would somehow legitimate it in the eyes of other interlocutors. Sometimes they even put off military operations and waited for a time when it would look like they were really defending themselves. Russia has just blown this away completely. They’re trying to get the world to believe that Ukraine, having sat there for eight years, witnessing these breakaway republics, suddenly chose to invade them and commit genocide against ethnic Russians, and that they waited to do this until there were 170,000 Russian troops around their country. You have to be a complete idiot to believe that. So if they succeed here, if this use of force without any justification is allowed to stand, then yes, the global order we’ve lived under for 30 years will have taken a massive hit. Sean Illing Are you surprised by the unanimity of the response from the rest of the world? William Wohlforth I am not surprised given the failure of Russia’s original vision of the operation. If the operation had gone the way they thought, if Ukraine fell quickly, you would have seen a different reality. People would have said, “Well, what are we going to do? We still have to deal with Russia, it’s very important.” But the Ukrainians, to their everlasting historical credit, ruined that Russian plan, and the result is you’ve seen this huge coalition develop. I’ll add that several countries are still hedging their bets big time, and they include major players like China and India. They’re still trying to preserve their relationships with Russia and somehow trying to thread the needle between their valid commitment to the principle of sovereignty on the one hand, and their strategic relationship with Russia on the other. Sean Illing What do you make of Germany’s decision to bolster its military spending in response to Russia? William Wohlforth It’s a historic increase. There was always a debate, in Germany and elsewhere, over just how antagonistic Russia’s preferences really were, over how deep its resentment against the European order really was, over how willing it was to take major risks. Well, those questions have been answered. So Germany is making this great turnaround because they just learned a lot about Russia and they’re updating their foreign policy and their whole approach to defense and security. Before the war, Germany and France were discounting the American intelligence saying that this invasion was imminent. And I think it was a widely held belief in German circles that Russia could be managed. The war in Ukraine has upended that argument. “WE HAVE A TREMENDOUS NATIONAL INTEREST IN TRYING TO KEEP THIS THING FROM SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL” Sean Illing And now countries like Finland and Sweden are talking openly about joining NATO, and Sweden is even sending military aid to Ukraine — that seems like a big deal. William Wohlforth It’s a big deal. This debate has been going on in Sweden and Finland forever, but it really picked up back in 2014. The authorities in those countries always thought this was a card they could play if they had to. The question was always, why deploy it? And the thinking was, “Let’s wait until things are serious.” Now things are serious. So yeah, these are very significant events. Sweden is shipping military hardware and this is a country that maintained a neutral stand all throughout the Cold War, although they were always pretty pro-America. Despite that affiliation with the West, they always stayed away from things like this. And then there’s Switzerland’s decision to freeze Russian assets. This really is unprecedented, and it surprised the heck out of people who closely follow financial matters. It shatters the image of Switzerland as the ultimate neutral actor. So this is all a huge deal and speaks to what a bad strategic move this was by Putin.

Russia-US relations needed to avoid escalation

William Wohlforth, a professor of international politics at Dartmouth, 3-5, 22, How the war in Ukraine could change history,

Sean Illing How worried are you about what international relations scholars often call a “security dilemma,” where you have these European powers increasing their defensive capabilities in order to protect themselves, but instead of making everyone safer, it produces a chain of reactions that ultimately makes conflict more likely? William Wohlforth I’m very worried about a spiral. Again, every statement I make, in the back of my mind, I’m seeing these images from Ukraine and I’m remembering that this is what’s happening on the ground and anyone who doesn’t feel for what that country’s going through has got no heart. But I’m also remembering that we have to continually think about how to avoid a dramatic intensification of the Russia-West spiral We have a tremendous national interest in trying to keep this thing from spiraling out of control. We need to have enough of a relationship with Russia that we can begin to establish red lines and guardrails to this competition, to mirror some of those that developed during the course of the Cold War. A lot of those don’t exist and they’re hard to create because there’s a new strategic reality created by such things as cyber [warfare]. If we don’t maintain some kind of relationship with Russia, we can’t keep the rivalry within bounds that don’t escalate. I think this is within our capacity, but passions and emotions are hard to control. All of these things conspire against our effort to impose firewalls. Sean Illing If the international community continues to hold the line and punish Russia, is it possible that this war might actually affirm the rules-based system and in that sense strengthen it?

Russia perceives foreign policy as zero-sum: A US gain is a Russian loss

Kapitonenko, 3-4, 22, Mykola Kapitonenko is an Associate Professor at the Institute of International Relations in Kyiv, Ukraine, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Has Changed the World,

Talking to Russians about international issues usually engages a lot of realist rhetoric. They generally believe in hard power, cherish state sovereignty, and tend to generalize the war-like experience of great powers. Neighboring states are perceived as a threat, unless controlled, and superpowers are usually pictured as insidious competitors engaged in a zero-sum game. Mistrust, relative gains, and worst-case scenarios dominate decisionmaking as a result. Quite telling, several days ago the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a tweet with a reference to John Mearsheimer’s 2014 article “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.” Core beliefs of realism are at the heart of Russian strategic thinking.

Ukraine crisis encouraged proliferation

Kapitonenko, 3-4, 22, Mykola Kapitonenko is an Associate Professor at the Institute of International Relations in Kyiv, Ukraine, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Has Changed the World,

Third, nuclear weapons will prove even more costly and even more effective. The annexation of Crimea eight years ago has already significantly weakened the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Ukraine, which voluntarily gave up a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War in exchange for security guarantees, lost a part of its territory. This raised the question about whether nuclear disarmament increases or diminishes a country’s security.

But Moscow’s hinted nuclear threats before and during its invasion to Ukraine imply that whoever can make those threats credibly gains a huge advantage. Going forward, acquiring nuclear weapons will be viewed as a rational choice for those seeking to improve their security. Threshold countries may find the best response to the rules of a new international order is to build nuclear weapons. This is not good news for Russia. As a country with the world’s largest nuclear warhead arsenal, Russia may currently feel comfortable. But, given its inherent technological and financial weaknesses, Russia may lose that advantage over time.

Russia’s military is a joke

William Arkin, 3-1, 22, Shocking Lessons U.S. Military Leaders Learned by Watching Putin’s Invasion,

After just one day of fighting, Russia’s ground force lost most of its initial momentum, undermined by shortages of fuel, ammunition and even food, but also because of a poorly trained and led force. Russia began to compensate for the weaknesses of its land army with more long-range air, missile and artillery strikes. And President Putin resorted to a nuclear threat—a reaction, U.S. military experts say, to the failure of Moscow’s conventional forces to make quick progress on the ground. Other military observers are flabbergasted that a Russian invasion force, fully prepared and operating from Russian soil, has been able to move just tens of miles into an adjoining country. One retired U.S. Army general told Newsweek in an email: “We know that Russia has a plodding army and that Russian military force has always been a blunt instrument, but why risk the antipathy of the entire planet if you have no prospect of achieving even minimal gains.” The Army general believes that the only explanation is that the Kremlin overestimated its own forces. “I believe that at the heart of Russian military thinking is how Marshall Zhukov marched across Eastern Europe to Berlin,” a former high-level CIA official told Newsweek in an interview. Zhukov’s orders were to “line up the artillery and … flatten everything ahead of you,” he says. “‘Then send in the peasant Army to kill or rape anyone left alive.’ Subtle the Russians are not.” In the short term, Russia’s military failures in Ukraine increase the threat of escalation, including the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons. But in the longer term, if escalation doesn’t worsen and the Ukrainian conflict can be contained, Russian conventional military weakness upends many assumptions that geopolitical strategists—even those inside the U.S. government—make about Russia as a military threat. For the United States and the West, the stumbling Ukraine invasion recalls the collapse of the Soviet Union, an eye-opening moment when it became clear that a supposedly unstoppable military shrouded a crumbling economy and a weak political and human base. It seems, three decades later, that few lessons have been learned. Moscow continues to invest in hardware at the cost of ignoring the human dimension of warfare (and the human dimensions of the strength of the nation state). Russian leaders have also ignored the reality that success in the information age—even military success—demands education, open initiative and even freedom. “No dictator or authoritarian who wants to maintain power ever wants to instill too much skill in subordinate military leaders,” the retired Army general wrote to Newsweek. Whether it be Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, the officer says, too much skill on the part of military subordinates is seen as increasing the likelihood of a coup. Ukraine troops on Russian vehicle in Kharkiv An Ukrainian Territorial Defence fighter examines a destroyed Russian infantry mobility vehicle GAZ Tigr after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine on February 27, 2022. U.S. military analysts and experts extracted several lessons as they watched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfold last week. On Thursday at about 4:00 a.m. local time, Russia invaded Ukraine along four main axes, attacking Ukraine’s capital Kyiv from Belarus in the north, just 70 miles away, and from Russian soil further east, moving westward towards the country’s largest city (some 2.5 million inhabitants). The second axis bore down on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city (population 1.4 million), less than 20 miles from the Russian border. The third attack entered Ukraine from Russian-occupied Crimea and the Black Sea in the south, to the east of Odessa, Ukraine’s third largest city (population 1 million). The fourth axis in the east pushed westward through Luhansk and attacked from Russian-dominated Donbas. At the same time as the ground invasion, 160 Russian missiles attacked targets from air, land, and sea. Some 80 Russia bombers and fighter planes accompanied those strikes, attacking in two primary waves. Altogether in about 400 attacks in the first 24 hours, the strike force hit, according to U.S. intelligence sources and reports on the ground, 15 command control nodes and military headquarters, 18 air defense installations, 11 airfields, and six military bases. It wasn’t an overwhelming attack. But most Western analysts assumed that Russia just needed to pave the way for its ground forces to seize the capital and topple the government. And follow-on attacks would to be coming, especially given that only a small fraction of Russian air and missile forces were employed in the Day One attack. By the end of the day on Thursday, Russian ground forces moved into Ukraine, backed up by their own shorter-range artillery and missile strikes. Russian special forces and saboteurs, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, showed up in Kyiv city center. Paratroopers were airlifted ahead of the main ground force into Hostomel airfield on the northwestern edge of Kyiv’s suburbs. The greatest progress was made in the northeast corner of Ukraine, on a straight line from Russian Belgorod to Kyiv. It was a second axis pointing at the capital city, the Russian force starting about 200 miles away. But then the weaknesses of Russia conscript army, its military equipment, and its over-optimistic strategy began to show. Perhaps most significant was the battle at Hostomel, the airfield north of Kyiv, and key to Russia’s effort to quickly overthrow the democratic government of Ukraine and achieve “regime change.” Russian airborne troops carried by helicopters landed at the airfield in the early morning hours on Thursday to create a stepping stone into the city. But by the end of the day, Ukrainian defenders had regained control. Meanwhile, the forward edge of the main force of Russian troops got bogged down 20 miles north of Kyiv. Heading south along the west bank of the Dnieper river, which extends from the Belarus border and splits the Ukrainian capital, tanks and armored vehicles slowed the advance. Russian logistical resupplies faltered. Ukrainian ground defenders, as well as Ukrainian fighter jets, attacked the advancing force and scored unexpected victories. Russia’s land army proved not up to the task, as numerous stories of confused and unmotivated soldiers emerged. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian people’s defense exceeded all expectations. Babushkas armed with broomsticks were defeating the Russian Army: that became the dominant narrative. With the exception of long-range strikes, almost everything about the initial salvos of the Russian invasion failed. Ukrainian air defenses were not disabled. Ukrainian airfields were not put out of action. Ukrainian defenders were able to hold their ground and move largely unfettered around the country. Ukrainian reserves and civilian defenders rapidly mobilized. Russian airborne and special forces inserted deep inside Ukraine were isolated from the main Russian force on the ground, cut off from the basics, especially ammunition resupply. Exclusive: Ukraine Crisis Could Lead to Nuclear War Under New StrategyREAD MOREExclusive: Ukraine Crisis Could Lead to Nuclear War Under New Strategy Importantly, Russia was not able to integrate any of the modern instruments of warfare—electronic warfare, cyber, space—into the military attack. In Ukraine, the electricity was also still flowing, and the telecommunications infrastructure (including the internet) was in full swing. U.S. intelligence sources pointed out to Newsweek that while the Russian ground forces have been surprisingly sluggish and uncoordinated, they were also severely constrained in their initial attack by the Kremlin’s strategy and objectives. “There’s only so much civil infrastructure one can destroy if the intention is occupation of the country,” says one U.S. Air Force officer who was involved in the planning for the 2003 Iraq war. Also, in arguing that Ukraine is an integral part of Russia, Moscow could not overtly and directly attack the Ukrainian people, military observers say. Russia may have also been seeking to maintain some semblance of goodwill with the international community (and even with the Ukrainian population) in not intentionally attacking civilians or civilian objects. The Ukrainian government claimed that only 32 civilian objects were hit on the first day of attacks, almost all of them by accident. By the end of the weekend, that number was still low, and Ukrainian health officials said that some 300 civilians had died and another 1,000 were wounded. Though there have been numerous incidents where civilian objects were hit, none so far appear to be intentional; the proportion of civilian casualties and harm is on par with that of the United States in its high-intensity air wars. A total of 150,000 Russian invaders may sound impressive, another analyst says, but that force pushed into Ukraine from about 15 different locations, dividing up the power of each individual attack. The analyst says that such a multipronged approach demonstrates another overestimation on the part of Moscow, that the country could be quickly occupied. russian invasion ukraine military Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in Lugansk region on February 26, 2022. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES On Days Two and Three of the Russian invasion, the eastern attacks from Russia—where the strongest supply lines exited—continued to advance. Some 12 battalion tactical groups (about 11,000 troops) made it to Okhtyrka, about 100 miles from Kyiv. Tanks also entered the city of Kharkiv after extensive shelling, and then escalated attacks inside the city, hoping to take Ukraine’s second city. The bulk of the Russian main force north of Kyiv, some 17 battalion tactical groups and supporting units (24,000 troops) operating on the west bank of the Dnieper, made limited progress. Forward elements made it into the northern suburbs by Saturday. By Monday, there was heavy fighting near the capital city center. By the end of the first 72 hours, the bulk of Russian attacks shifted to long-range artillery and missile strikes, most from Russian and Belarussian territory, where the launchers are immune from retaliation. Ukraine’s Heroic Zelensky Unites Divided Americans Against PutinREAD MOREUkraine’s Heroic Zelensky Unites Divided Americans Against Putin The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims in three days of fighting that some 700 Russian vehicles were destroyed, disabled or had been abandoned, including 150 tanks. Some 40 Russian aircraft and helicopters were shot down (and some crashed). In one incident, a Ukrainian Su-27 “Flanker” fighter jet shot down a Russian transport plane carrying occupation troops into the country. By the end of Day Three, Russia claimed that the number of Ukrainian “aimpoints” at targets attacked had doubled to 820, including 14 airfields and 48 air defense installations. Russia also claimed that 87 Ukrainian tanks “and other targets” were destroyed on the battlefield. In a message on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s invasion into Kyiv had been repelled and that Moscow’s plan to quickly seize the capital and install a puppet government had been thwarted. “The real fighting for Kyiv is ongoing,” Zelensky said. “We will win.” While the equipment numbers can be stultifying, casualties amongst Russian and Ukrainian military units are more sobering and revealing. According to U.S. intelligence sources, about 1,000 Russian troops have been killed or severely wounded each day of fighting. Ukrainian military deaths are estimated to be the same (about 3,000 total), demonstrating the intensity of the ground fighting at the forward edge. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed on Sunday that 4,300 Russian soldiers overall had been killed, and over 200 had been taken prisoner. U.S. intelligence is beginning to observe desertions on the part of Russian soldiers and increasing reports of soldiers refusing to fight. “In three days, Russia couldn’t achieve what we did in three hours in Iraq in 2003,” a senior retired Air Force officer says, somewhat hyperbolically. In three days, the officer says, the number of aimpoints Russia attacked is only one-quarter of what the U.S. hit in the opening airstrikes in Iraq (more than 3,200 aimpoints). Preliminary analysis from U.S. intelligence indicates that Russia delivered 11,000 bombs and missiles to precisely hit some 820 separate “aimpoints,” or about a seven percent success rate (the U.S. equivalent in Iraq in 2003 was well over 80 percent). Russia, forces, Crimea, conflict, Ukraine Servicemen ride atop a Russian armored vehicle on February 25 in Armyansk, Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine after an internationally disputed election held in 2014 as unrest first gripped the country. AFP/GETTY IMAGES “The synergy of coordinated attacks, and the effects,” the senior officer says, “have not been achieved.” As an example, the officer says, the point of attacking air defenses is to hit the central nodes and connections between launchers and the early warning systems, so that the whole system collapses. “The Russians seem to be focusing on piecemeal attacks because the choreography of a coordinated attack seems too complex for them to pull off.” Another retired officer jokingly dismissed the Russian effort as “shock and awful,” riffing off the “shock and awe” of Iraq, an attack mainly on Baghdad that sent the Iraq regime and command structure into disarray from which they never recovered. On Sunday, Russian President Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to a “special regime of combat duty,” a status that Western observers have taken to mean a higher state of nuclear alert. Putin said that the shift in nuclear forces’ readiness was in response to NATO’s “aggressive statements” and sanctions. A more accurate interpretation is that with Moscow’s military failure, the nuclear threat was necessary to forestall any possible NATO intervention. Putin’s caution about potential failure can also be seen in the surprise meeting of Ukrainian and Russia officials at the Belarussian border, and their agreement to meet again in the coming days. Military observers say that the best that Putin might be able to salvage is holding on to three wedges of Ukrainian territory, citing Kyiv, Kharkiv and north of Crimea. These wedges could serve as bargaining chips in exchange for “security guarantees” regarding Ukraine, such as a pledge not to join the Western alliance or officially becoming a “neutral” country, eschewing NATO military links. Putin Has Never Lost a War. Here Is How He’ll Win In UkraineREAD MOREPutin Has Never Lost a War. Here Is How He’ll Win In Ukraine President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night was dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s unprovoked invasion, the valiant defense being mounted by the Ukrainian people, and the good news of alliance solidarity and tough sanctions. The President made no mention of Russia’s nuclear threat. And the overall message was muddled. “Let me be clear,” the president said, “our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” That downer, despite the grave situation and the upbeat words of global solidarity and Ukraine’s defenses, was accompanied by a sobering timeframe for the war: “days, weeks, months” of fighting lie ahead, Biden said, a foreign policy crisis that will surely sap the administration’s domestic agenda. Meanwhile Russia is escalating its attacks as Ukraine, and civilian casualties and damage are on the rise. Fear of further escalation might in the short term focus Washington and NATO on crisis decision-making, and provoke a reopening of the Cold War playbook, to react. In the longer term, the recognition of Russian military weakness represents a fundamental challenge to U.S. strategy, spending priorities and even its firm hold on the world. It questions Washington’s obsession with a supposed “peer” adversary and the U.S. emphasis on a larger military and ever-increasing defense spending to deal with Russia. Changing the narrative on the Russian military also fundamentally challenges NATO and its European members. Though there might be heightened awareness and even fear of Moscow’s willingness to resort to extreme and even reckless behavior, the reality is that there doesn’t need to be increased defense spending or a renewal of European ground forces. FE Putin’s Endgame 06 President Joe Biden takes questions after delivering remarks in the East Room of the White House, giving an update on the situation of Russias Invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. Though many will argue that the new focus needs to be the old focus—containment, economic warfare to weaken the state, and nuclear disarmament talks—the new reality from Moscow’s point of view will likely solidify around their belief that their only true strength lies in Russia’s nuclear forces: that they are more important than ever to preserve the State, or at least the current political system that rules the state. For Washington, this display of Russian military weakness should be comforting in terms of Moscow’s true military threat to Europe. At the same time though, it exposes the need for a different national security strategy, one that doesn’t imagine Russia as a military equal, and one that doesn’t push Vladimir Putin’s back against a wall.

Deterrence critical to stop further aggression, nuclear escalation, the collapse of democracy. US leadership is key

Charai, 3-1, 22, Ahmed Charai is a Publisher of The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune. He is on the board of directors of many Think-Tanks including the Atlantic Council, International Crisis Group, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Center for the National Interest, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Is a Western Tragedy,

This tragedy is perhaps only a prospect of more catastrophe to come, as the conflict between Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime and Western democracies is only beginning. Often Russia was seen as a power in decline that could not credibly challenge Western goals, but this has repeatedly been proven false. The invasion of Ukraine is simply the latest example. Putin’s project will not stop at Ukraine; he aims to reconstitute the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. The Russian heartland—where most Russian-speakers live—is part of the vast European plain, a flat land that is very hard to defend. Since the time of the czars and the Soviets, Russia has sought to close the geographic entry points to its endless plain by expanding its borders west and south. Putin is simply doing what every Russian leader has sought to do since the reconstruction of modern Russia in the seventeenth century. Today, Putin continues to speak the language of war, putting his nuclear forces on high alert, while the West speaks the language of economic sanctions, including shutting Russia out of the SWIFT international banking settlement service. Removing selective Russian banks from the SWIFT system will compromise their ability to act on a global scale. Sanctions that bar the Central Bank of Russia from deploying its reserves, in a way that could undermine the impact of sanctions, could also weaken Russia’s economy. The crackdown on “golden passports,” that gave wealthy Russians access to Western financial systems, has already angered Russia’s oligarchs Certainly major and unprecedented sanctions that could paralyze the Russian commercial banking system—and with internal Russian interest rates climbing from 9 percent to almost 20 percent over the past week, Russia’s economy may be uniquely weak in the face of sanctions. Will these sanctions be enough? No one can know how long Putin will resist. Until Putin relents, the Kremlin will set the agenda. There is a real risk that this crisis will spread and envelop the United States and Europe in a larger war. Putin’s not-so-subtle threat of nuclear escalation in response to Western interference is a stark reminder of the dangers. Containing Russia’s territorial ambitions and preventing it from invading other neighbors or launching nuclear strikes requires the U.S., the indispensable nation, to make certain geostrategic changes that only it can make. European history reminds us that failure to confront a tyrant can have horrific and generational consequences. Whether this is one of those moments remains to be seen, but as itbecomes clearer that the valiant and vigorous attempts at diplomacy are falling on deaf ears in Moscow, the military dimensions of a response must be defined now. President Joe Biden, by standing tall in the face of this Russian escalation, is sending a valuable signal to democracies around the world. That message is vital to ensure the security of small democracies that have larger and threatening neighbors, such as Poland, the Baltic states, and Taiwan. To be sure, diplomats must continue to negotiate for peace to rescue Ukraine from the deaths and dispersion of its people and to prevent a potentially destabilizing refugee crisis from rocking NATO. But more must be done. The West must act. First, the West must further tighten sanctions against Putin’s entourage as well as Russian companies, not only those operating in Europe but those operating in Asia. Sanctions must also affect Putin’s ally, Belarus. Second, it must strengthen NATO’s military capabilities in coordination with allied countries, such as France and the United Kingdom, and put in place a military strategy that protects European countries vulnerable to any Russian invasion such as Poland, the Baltic states, or Romania. The United States must fully play its role as world leader and protector of democracy. This is not a time for half-measures. U.S. leadership will not only be appreciated by allies but by people around th


Only hard power stops Russia; Putin doesn’t care about norms and laws

Boot, 4-3, 22, Max Boot is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam., Washingtom Post,

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin got one thing right: His invasion did lead to Ukrainian civilians greeting troops as liberators. Only they weren’t greeting Russian troops. They were greeting the Ukrainian troops who in recent days have entered villages around Kyiv that had been occupied by the Russians for more than a month. The Ukrainian government proclaimed on Saturday that all of the Kyiv administrative region had been freed of Russian control. It was as if the Free French forces were entering Paris in 1944. The reason civilians were so jubilant to be liberated has become grimly apparent. Sickening pictures from Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, show the corpses of residents who had been bound, shot and left by the side of the road. The mayor of Bucha said that some 270 people had been found in two mass graves and another 40 were lying dead in the streets. The atrocities in Bucha were no aberration. There is ample evidence of other war crimes by Russian troops across Ukraine. Human Rights Watch has documented Russian troops committing rape, summary execution and looting. In Mariupol, the Russians bombarded a theater where civilians were sheltering. The word “CHILDREN” was printed in Russian in huge white letters outside. An effort to discourage aerial attack may have actually invited it. Some 300 people in the building were reported killed by Russian bombs on March 16. But it is one thing to kill civilians with bombs and missiles. It is another to kill them with bullets to the back of the head. This is a different level of evil — the kind of organized atrocity that Europe has not seen since the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995. Russia’s “anti-Nazi” operation has led Russian troops to act precisely as the Nazis once did. If there is any justice in the world, Russian war criminals, from Putin on down, will someday face the kind of justice that the Nazis received at Nuremberg. This, sadly, is the Russian way of war. It is how Putin’s forces fought in Chechnya and Syria — and before that, how Soviet forces fought in Afghanistan and in central Europe during World War II. They commit war crimes to terrorize the population into surrender. But it hasn’t worked in Ukraine. Russia’s savagery has simply caused the Ukrainians to resist all the harder because they know they are fighting not just for their freedom but for their very survival. In the past week, the invaders have been driven out of the Kyiv area, with crippling losses. The Russians have lost, according to open-source reporting, at least 400 tanks and, according to the State Department, at least 10,000 troops; by a standard military metric, that means another 30,000 Russian soldiers may have been wounded. So roughly a fourth of the initial Russian assault force — which included Putin’s best troops — is probably out of action. Some still suggest, incredibly, that the Russian attack on Kyiv was a feint or a brilliant maneuver by Putin to distract his enemies. History will, in fact, record it as a catastrophic military blunder. Having failed in their initial objective of regime change, the Russians are trying to reorganize their battered and depleted forces to capture the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. This would have been much easier to do at the outset of the war, without those heavy losses. Now the Russians will be hard-put to encircle the Ukrainian forces in the east, which have been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014. How will this war end? No one can yet say. The Ukrainians are rightly enraged by Russian atrocities and will be less likely to make territorial compromises with the invaders, knowing that to do so would be to consign their fellow citizens to a Stalinist hell. But as a former Putin adviser says, “Russia cannot afford to ‘lose,’ so we need a kind of a victory.” The 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended the war in Bosnia, should remind us that it is possible to make peace even with war criminals — but only after they have been defeated. There is no indication yet that Putin feels he has lost this war. That is why it is so essential that Russia suffer a decisive defeat in the Donbas. The West must continue to ramp up aid to Ukraine, providing it with the kind of heavy combat systems needed to drive back the Russians in the south and east as they have already done in the north. It is good to see the Biden administration getting ready to transfer tanks to Ukraine. Other weapons, including artillery, fighter aircraft and long-range air defense systems, must follow. The only way to achieve peace at this point is not by negotiating with the Russians but by defeating them. As for the Europeans: It is time, finally, to stop all oil and gas purchases from Russia. Germany, in particular, cannot continue paying blood money that subsidizes today’s version of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads. Enough is enough.

China wants tech dominance in AI and biotechnology to enable global leadership

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order


The architecture of the new order remains a work in progress. Yet two key features are already discernible. The first is a loose economic bloc anchored by the G-7, the group of democratic allies that controls more than half of the world’s wealth. These leading powers, along with a rotating cast of like-minded states, are collaborating to prevent China from monopolizing the global economy. History has shown that whichever power dominates the strategic goods and services of an era dominates that era. In the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom was able to build an empire on which the sun never set in part because it mastered iron, steam, and the telegraph faster than its competitors. In the twentieth century, the United States surged ahead of other countries by harnessing steel, chemicals, electronics, aerospace, and information technologies. Now, China hopes to dominate modern strategic sectors—including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, semiconductors, and telecommunications—and relegate other economies to subservient status. In a 2017 meeting in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told H. R. McMaster, then the U.S. national security adviser, how he envisioned the United States and other countries fitting into the global economy in the future: their role, McMaster recalled Li saying, “would merely be to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the world’s cutting-edge industrial and consumer products.”

Russia and China have formed an anti-Democratic alliance

David Leonhardt, 2-9, 22, New York Times, A New Axis China and Russia have formed an “alliance of autocracies.”,

The last time Xi Jinping left China was more than two years ago, for a diplomatic trip to Myanmar. Days later, he ordered the lockdown of Wuhan, which began China’s aggressive “zero Covid” policy. By staying home, Xi has reduced his chances of contracting the virus and has sent a message that he is playing by at least some of the same pandemic rules as other Chinese citizens. Until last week, Xi had also not met with a single other world leader since 2020. He had conducted his diplomacy by phone and videoconference. When he finally broke that streak and met in Beijing on Friday with another head of state, who was it? Vladimir Putin. Their meeting led to a joint statement, running more than 5,000 words, that announced a new closeness between China and Russia. It proclaimed a “redistribution of power in the world” and mentioned the U.S. six times, all critically. The Washington Post called the meeting “a bid to make the world safe for dictatorship.” Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister of Australia, told The Wall Street Journal, “The world should get ready for a further significant deepening of the China-Russia security and economic relationship.” Ukraine and Taiwan The current phase of the relationship has its roots in Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. The European Union and the U.S. responded with economic sanctions on Russia that forced it to trade more with Asia, Anton Troianovski, The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, notes. China stepped in, buying Russian oil, investing in Russian companies and more. “The conventional wisdom used to be that Putin didn’t want to get too close to China,” Anton said. That’s no longer the case. Russia returned the favor in recent years, buying equipment from Huawei, a Chinese tech giant, after the Trump administration tried to isolate the company. In the grandest sense, China and Russia are creating a kind of “alliance of autocracies,” as Steven Lee Myers, The Times’s Beijing bureau chief, puts it. They don’t use that phrase and even claim to be democracies. “Democracy is a universal human value, rather than a privilege of a limited number of states,” their joint statement read. “It is only up to the people of the country to decide whether their state is a democratic one.” But the message that China and Russia have sent to other countries is clear — and undemocratic. They will not pressure other governments to respect human rights or hold elections. In Xi’s and Putin’s model, an autocratic government can provide enough economic security and nationalistic pride to minimize public opposition — and crush any that arises. “There are probably more countries than Washington would like to think that are happy to have China and Russia as an alternative model,” Steven told us. “Look how many countries showed up at the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022, despite Biden’s ‘diplomatic boycott.’ They included some — Egypt, Saudi Arabia — that had long been in the American camp.” Russia’s threat to invade Ukraine has added a layer to the relationship between Moscow and Beijing. The threat reflects Putin’s view — which Xi shares — that a powerful country should be able to impose its will within its declared sphere of influence. The country should even be able to topple a weaker nearby government without the world interfering. Beside Ukraine, of course, another potential example is Taiwan. For all these common interests, China and Russia do still have major points of tension. For decades, they have competed for influence in Asia. That competition continues today, with China now in the more powerful role, and many Russians, across political ideologies, fear a future of Chinese hegemony. Even their joint statement — which stopped short of being a formal alliance — had to elide some tensions. It did not mention Ukraine by name, partly because China has economic interests that an invasion would threaten. The two countries are also competing for influence in the melting waters of the Arctic. And China is nervous about Russia’s moves to control Kazakhstan, where many people are descended from modern-day China. “China and Russia are competing for influence around much of the world — Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America,” Lara Jakes, who covers the State Department from Washington, said. “The two powers have less than more in common, and a deep or enduring relationship that goes beyond transactional strategies seems unlikely.” As part of its larger effort to check China’s rise — and keep Russia from undermining global stability — the Biden administration is likely to look for ways to exacerbate any tensions between China and Russia, in Kazakhstan and elsewhere. The “alliance of autocracies” remains informal for now. But it is real, and it extends beyond China and Russia to include other countries — like Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela — that work together to minimize the effect of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure. The world’s democracies face a growing and interconnected challenge from a very different political model.

NATO must improve its cyber defense capabilities

Julian Lindley-French is a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and chair of The Alpen Group, 2-1, 22, To keep the peace, NATO must be ready to fight the wars,

The NATO alliance is now facing what could be the most complex set of challenges in its history. Given the nature and extent of the threats against citizens of the alliance from Vancouver to Vilnius, urgency must be the hallmark of Strategic Concept 2022 — in essence, the alliance’s manifesto — to more clearly stress defence against, and deterrence of, Russian aggression in the region. Russia continues to pose the most immediate threat to NATO (also called the North Atlantic Alliance). The latter will continue seeking dialogue with Russia and honouring the NATO-Russia Founding Act, even though Russia continues to breach the values, principles, trust, and commitments that were meant to underpin the NATO-Russia Council. Much will depend on Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine, and the alliance can’t stand aside. NATO should launch a Ukrainian Deterrence Initiative to provide military equipment and training, as well as enhance Ukraine’s resilience. Terrorism continues to challenge the rules-based international order by undermining democracy and stability across the globe. China’s rise as a military power will be the main cause of change in the coming decade. While NATO must seek to maintain a constructive dialogue with China, possibly through some form of NATO-China Council, Beijing’s growing influence and power present challenges that the alliance must address. NATO must also grasp failure, and reflect on hard lessons from the chaotic and tragic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The need for realistic political objectives allied to strategic patience must be reinforced by strengthened political cohesion and the equitable sharing of risk and cost. Mass disruption and mass destruction are merging into a continuum of risk, challenge, and threat, which the alliance must contend with across a broad spectrum of tasks, from defence and deterrence to engagement. Strategic Concept 2022 must reset NATO’s purpose. The alliance will continue to lead the collective defence of Europe in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. NATO remains vital to effective crisis management, and has a critical role to play in promoting co-operative security with partners in and around Europe and across the wider world. Something old, something new? The principle of resilience, making civil society more robust, is anchored in Article 3 of the alliance’s founding treaty. NATO has also reaffirmed that national and collective resilience is a vital component of credible deterrence and defence. Cyberattacks and information warfare on critical civilian and military infrastructures are now deemed clear and present dangers, and must be countered. But it’s deterrence and defence that must remain NATO’s core business. If the alliance is to remain credible as a peacekeeper, NATO must always be a capable warfighter. NATO forces must meet the challenge of the fast-changing character and conduct of warfare, which now stretches across a mosaic of information war, cyberwar, and increasingly precise and rapid “hyper war.” U.S. armed forces will continue to lead NATO for operations in Europe, but they’re engaged with the world. By 2030, a more equitable sharing of alliance burdens is needed, built on a commitment by the European allies to field 50 per cent of NATO’s minimum military requirement. Call it European strategic autonomy or strategic responsibility; either way, it realizes that greater European military capability will be vital. By 2030, Canadian and European allies must be able to deploy a NATO Allied Command Operations Mobile Heavy Force (AMHF). By consolidating all Allied Rapid Response Forces into a single pool of forces, the AMHF could act in any and all emergencies as a high-end first responder NATO Future Force that reinforces rather than drains the Americans. Fail to act now, and Europe could face a digital Pearl Harbor from which it wouldn’t recover. A catastrophic “bolt from the blue” would combine strategy, capability, new technologies of intelligent design, artificial intelligence, Big Data, quantum computing, etc., to decisively change the character of warfare, and Europe with it. By 2030, NATO must be a very different alliance, because it will be in a very different place. Otherwise, it could fail, although any such failure might not be the catastrophic demise some have predicted for so long. A Potemkin NATO would simply be yet more European-defence pretence: a pretty, reassuring façade of false security. Strategic Concept 2022 is the best chance NATO leaders have to set the alliance on course for 2030. Collectively, they must generate the necessary will, vision, and leadership.

Russia is a threat a threat to Europe, NATO not currently prepared

Walsh, 1-31, 22, Garvan Walshe is a former national and international security policy advisor to the British Conservative Party and the founder and CEO of Article7., Europe Must Shed Its Illusions About Russia,

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s borders initially caught Western powers off guard. Russia’s first invasion in 2014 didn’t get the West to abandon its post-Cold War daydreams. But there are signs that Putin’s threat of another invasion is now forcing the West to shed its illusions. The United States, France, Britain, and Germany each have their own fantasies: Washington wants to think Europe is done and the United States can now focus on confronting a proper superpower rival, China, forgetting that Putin’s rearmed post-Soviet Russia is still strong enough to menace America’s allies. France wants strategic autonomy for Europe—being able to act independently of the United States on the world stage­—while thinking it can control European foreign policy with only 13 percent of democratic Europe’s population. Britain would like to forget its own continent from which, in former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s words, “all our troubles came” and recreate a maritime relationship with trading hubs in Asia, forgetting the great game that lies between. Germany still clings to the belief that just because it has abandoned force as an instrument of policy, its eastern neighbors, even authoritarian Russia, must have done so as well, and that Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which bypasses Eastern Europe to supply Germany with gas directly, is just a “private sector project.” Each figment avoids uncomfortable facts: As much as China might be the only “peer competitor” (to use the language of the U.S. Defense Department’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review), Russia is currently powerful enough to project power in Syria and Libya as well as destabilize Europe by sponsoring a coup in Montenegro, cutting off gas to Moldova, stirring up irredentism in Bosnia, and, of course, seizing Crimea and invading the Donbass. Germany still clings to the belief that just because it has abandoned force as an instrument of policy, its eastern neighbors, even authoritarian Russia, must have done so as well. Notwithstanding China’s speedy economic development, U.S. trade volumes with Europe are almost double those with China ($1.1 trillion compared to $643 billion in goods and services, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative). The discrepancy in investment figures is starker. The United States and European Union invest around $2 trillion each way. Investment flows to and from China are less than 5 percent of those that cross the Atlantic Ocean. Even if cultural ties and shared democratic values are discounted, a stable and prosperous Europe is in the United States’ interest. France, like Britain, is a globally minded power that no longer has the global resources to back its ambitions. But unlike Britain, it has, through the EU, an instrument for global power it wants to use. French differences with the United States have often been exaggerated for domestic political consumption. France was reportedly ready to launch airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with the Americans even after the British pulled out, and I have even heard from French sources who wish to remain anonymous that Paris scoped out unilaterally liberating Crimea in 2014. However, such muscularity is not the same as turning the EU into a geopolitical actor capable of acting on its own. Poland, the Baltic states, and Nordic countries still suspect that Paris, which was on the verge of selling Russia an advanced amphibious landing craft until those “little green men” appeared in Crimea, can’t be counted on if things turn ugly. Poles, especially, haven’t forgotten how France lived up to its guarantee of defending Poland from the Nazis by hiding behind the Maginot Line. Britain, which these days self-defines as global, is finding that stability in Europe is not so much an impediment as a precondition for its global ambitions. Notwithstanding cultural and political ties to the United States and other prosperous former colonies as well as the security benefits from initiatives like the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network—also involving the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—the United Kingdom is physically located in Europe, and it is only from European Russia that state-level threats to British security can emerge. The U.K. has very publicly supported Ukraine; British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace took Putin to task and supplied it with advanced anti-tank weapons. It has been less than assiduous, however, in clamping down on what the world might call Bank Stream 2: money flows of questionable provenance into London, including from Russian oligarchs enriched by Putin’s regime. Upholding global democratic values while laundering the world’s kleptocrats’ money might, with British understatement, be described as not entirely consistent. Germany’s problem is, in many ways, the most acute. It goes beyond embarrassments like former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder working for Russian government gas pipeline operator Rosneft, the country’s inability to muster more than 5,000 helmets for Ukraine (Can the Bundeswehr’s logistics problems really be that bad?). Berlin must accept that good relations with former Soviet satellites, like Poland and the Baltic states, and with a Russia determined to reestablish the Soviet empire they escaped from are not simultaneously possible. It is not even due to Germany’s understandable pacifism. It is rather that Berlin must face up to a deeper contradiction in its Ostpolitik: that good relations with former Soviet satellites, like Poland and the Baltic states, and with a Russia determined to reestablish the Soviet empire they escaped from are not simultaneously possible. Even if it is getting harder these days to justify taking, say, Poland’s side on democratic grounds, the global economic balance is now in favor of the satellites. German trade with Russia amounts to $51 billion a year, whereas that with the other former Soviet satellites now in the European Union is worth $384 billion. Putin’s aggression is forcing all these powers to confront their post-Cold War naivety. The United States is now ready to base troops in Eastern Europe, where NATO’s presence has been limited to rotational deployments in an evidently unsuccessful attempt to appease Russia. France has announced it would send around 1,000 ground troops as well as air assets to Romania. Tanks in Poland or the Baltic states would be better still. Britain will also step up arms shipments and training. Joining the EU’s military mobility Permanent Structured Cooperation project (which the United States has also joined) would mark a shift to a form of Brexit where Britain coexisted constructively with Brussels. There are even reports of movement in Berlin: If weapons exports to Ukraine are still out of the question, Germany’s new no-nonsense foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has put blocking Nord Stream 2 and financial sanctions back on the table. There is still some way to go before European powers fully face reality. Deploying NATO forces, including a significant French presence, permanently to Eastern Europe is one step. Reinforcing infrastructure to ensure they can arrive on time from as far away as Britain is another. Systematic financial sanctions on Russian economic and financial activity would show resolve, as would large-scale economic support and weapons supplies so Ukraine can defend itself. Finally, the EU and Britain need to rapidly reduce their energy dependence on Russia and carry out a comprehensive crackdown on money laundering and influence operations. This is what fully abandoning those post-Cold War illusions would involve: realizing that the best way to avert war with Putin’s Russia is to confront the Kremlin by all other means. These changes may come too late to deter Putin from invading Ukraine, but they make an invasion considerably more costly and limit his room for maneuver. More than 30 years after the end of the first Cold War, European powers and the United States may finally be recognizing that a second one cannot be avoided.

Technology cooperation with Europe now

Bruce Stokes, January 10, 22,, US relations with Europe. America has not “returned” at all under Biden, Bruce Stokes is an associate of the German Marshall Fund of the United States

To better understand the expectations and hesitations of Biden’s second year of administration, I interviewed over 50 European and American experts. It turns out that not everything is still alright in the transatlantic  relations. Overall, in 2021, significant achievements were indeed made – bilateral trade disputes were resolved, technology cooperation was launched and relations with China were coordinated. “It went about as positive as I had hoped on the day of its inauguration,” said the former German ambassador to the United States. “There were lofty expectations, especially among American Europhiles, that Europe would be more of a priority in Biden’s overall foreign policy,” recalls a foreign policy analyst in a Washington think tank. – There was a feeling that we would see a new beginning of partnership. But 2021 was also marked by friction: Afghanistan, the AUKUS defense pact, challenges posed by Russia and China, and the development of the political situation in the USA. This fueled the belief in Europe that relations with the US would never go back to what they were in 2016, whether former President Donald Trump returns or not, said the former US ambassador to NATO. “And now the challenge facing the Biden administration is to prove that such fears are unfair.

Millions dead within minutes of a Russia-US nuclear war