Russia - Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given invaluable insight into Russian strategy, doctrine, and capabilities. President Putin and his inner circle assumed their takeover of Ukraine would take days to complete but supply and logistics failures, falling morale, and an inability to achieve air superiority has turned what appeared to be a quick campaign into Russia’s worst military incursion since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.
Ukraine’s resilient military and its population heroic fighting for their way of life have defied international expectations. The future of Ukraine as a member of the European democratic order or as a satellite state of Russia hangs in the balance as it resists the Kremlin’s aggression.
Just a few short years ago, many scholars and decision makers dismissed a nuclear exchange as a vestige of history from a more brutal time. Now, as Cold War era treaties collapse and Russia and China try to rewrite the global security order, nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy are all the more important to bring into the modern global security environment.
Russian doctrine of escalation control and Chinese minimum deterrence strategy regarding nuclear weapons are two critical elements policy makers in Washington and at Strategic Command need to confront. For better or worse, American nuclear weapons and strategy have been the ultimate security shield since the end of World War 2; however, the US risks being left behind as Russia and China upgrade their nuclear arsenals, develop new methods and weapons, and offer their leaders more flexible responses in a nuclear world.
After the disastrous American withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries are emboldened and our allies disheartened. China’s ambition over the next 10 years is to control the South China Sea and become the dominant player in one of the most important maritime trade routes in the world along what’s dubbed “the first island chain” and the 9 dash line.
Over the past year in particular, China has become emboldened, repeatedly flying dozens of aircraft to test Taiwanese response times and to send a message that Taiwan cannot win a war with China. While the recent events in Ukraine will give China pause regarding its own military plans for Taiwan, its integration with mainland China likely will be a geo-strategic flashpoint with which American policymakers will have to contend within the next 2-5 years.