President Vladimir Putin may have hoped for a quick and decisive invasion of Ukraine; instead, a year later, Russia paid a heavy price for its imperial ambitions.
However, time is a powerful ally for Mr. Putinand victory can still be guaranteed.
What does some form of Russian success mean for Western security?
Putin’s frustration at the Russian military’s incompetence will be eased knowing this is a battle between David and Goliath, in which Russia will prevail.
Despite Western support – accordingly Ukraine totally dependent – Putin will know that precision weapons have a finite supply, are not easily replaceable, and the cohesion of the West is fragile.
Furthermore, NATO There is no mission, and the Western nations do not want to commit fighters to this conflict.
Time is Putin’s friend, and the longer the war drags on, the more Russia will regenerate when the West is tired.
Ukraine will struggle to drive out all Russian forces, so some form of victory for Russia – however unthinkable to the West – seems inevitable.
Encouraged and inspired, Putin’s Russia will be an existential threat to its western neighbours.
Russia’s grip on Belarus will tighten, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia will be vulnerable – can or will NATO resist escalation?
Moreover, a new “axis of evil” – China, Russia, North Korea and Iran – will gain traction as an ideological counterweight to NATO.
Defense spending is a premium for an uncertain future – Putin’s invasion shows that the West can no longer afford to be complacent about defense, and the Cold War Peace Dividend has left significant gap in our collective military capabilities.
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Western technology has proven decisive, but precision weapons are difficult to manufacture, expensive to procure, and long to replace.
Larger stockpiles, greater common ground among allies, and a defense-industrial strategy that can quickly respond to changing needs, are all viable options, but at what cost?
And where is the West’s exit from Ukraine, or is the West now committed to a conflict they cannot afford to lose?
NATO/Western Air Force will play a decisive role in this conflict, so is it inevitable that the West will be forced to hand over fighter pilots to end the war, despite the risks?
A year on, the Ukraine conflict has evolved from a strategic defeat by Russia into a powerful and brutal challenge to the established world order.
Ukraine has survived so far – it could even be reversed – but that won’t matter if the international community doesn’t recognize the conflict – whatever happens.