- Interim security insights and implications from the first two months of the Russia-Ukraine war
Russia’s ongoing struggles during its invasion of Ukraine have led some to suggest that the Russian military lacks the capability to credibly threaten the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its member states. However, narrowly focusing on Russia’s tactical and operational struggles, while omitting the flawed Russian strategic decisionmaking which underpinned the invasion, is a dangerous approach. While Russia’s significant losses in this war will clearly degrade its ability to conduct large scale offensive operations against NATO in the short term, it is too soon to write off the medium to long-term threat posed by Russia. Therefore, as the Russian invasion enters a new phase, it is useful to determine what lessons should and should not be derived from this conflict.
There are several conclusions NATO leaders should avoid. First, it would be unwise to think Russia no longer poses a threat and therefore further investment in NATO military forces is unneeded. Early evidence indicates that secretive Russian political decisionmaking and faulty strategic assumptions hindered effective operational planning and force employment. Second, it would be equally unwise to assume the enabling strategy employed by NATO in Ukraine would work elsewhere. Finally, NATO cannot assume the solidarity enjoyed to-date will endure indefinitely. Considering these factors and the strong likelihood that tensions with Russia will persist, NATO leaders must be clear-eyed about the need to enhance the alliance’s conventional deterrence posture.