Blowback from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

While the Ukrainian army and people continue to resist, the costs of Russia's invasion in human terms are mounting. As of March 15, the United Nations (UN) had verified 1,900 civilian casualties, including 726 deaths (fifty of them children), as Russia intensifies its assault on civilian targetsseizes the Zaporizhzhia nuclear sitelays siege to Mariupol which is without food, energy, or water in freezing temperatures, continues to threaten Kyiv, begins a push on Odesa and assaults Kharkiv with heavy and indiscriminate shelling. 

An anti-war protestor holding an Ukrainian flag stands outside the UN Headquarters in the morning. Photo Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Already, the International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into possible war crimes, while more than three million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring countries, which are scrambling to accommodate what is the swiftest mass exodus of this century and soon to be the largest refugee movement in Europe since World War II. As of today, there are many signals that Russia overestimated the speed with which it would advance and is experiencing logistical and supply problems. The Ukrainian resistance is impressive and rightly lauded, both in terms of the dedication of its civilian leadership and army, and the popular mobilization that has taken place.

Yet no one should celebrate prematurely: it took the US and UK twenty days to topple the regime in Baghdad in the occupation of Iraq in 2003, and this invasion is still in its first ten days. We hope that Ukraine, with its allies, can continue to resist. Our point in this piece, however, is to lay out the evidence that, even if Russia succeeds in its short-term military goals, this will not serve its long-term security interests.

[ Read the full analysis: Blowback from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (last updated on March 16, 2022) ]

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Mar 07, 2022
Sarah Cliffe, Leah Zamore
James Traub
Europe