Foreign Affairs on Ukraine’s theory of victory

May 21,2024 378
Foreign Affairs on Ukraine’s theory of victory

Besides assistance, Ukraine needs a theory of victory recognized by its partners, write Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Chairman of the Centre for Defence Strategies and Minister of Defense of Ukraine (2019–2020), and Eliot A. Cohen, Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, in a column for Foreign Affairs.

The United States has never planned out its support for Kyiv beyond a few months at a time, even as Congress mandated the provision of a long-term U.S. strategy for its support of Ukraine as a part of the aid bill. It has focused on short-term maneuvers, such as the much-anticipated 2023 counteroffensive, rather than viable long-term strategies or aims – including a potential triumph over Russia. Until end of last year, U.S. officials refrained from even using the term “victory” in public. Similarly, the United States has generally avoided describing its goal in Ukraine as a Russian defeat. Washington’s only real long-term statement – that it will support Ukraine “for as long as it takes” – is, by itself, meaningless,” the text reads.

Ukraine has set specific objectives: to reclaim all territory within its internationally recognized borders, to secure the return of prisoners of war, deported citizens, and abducted children, to ensure justice by prosecuting war criminals and securing compensation, and to implement lasting security measures. However, Kyiv and its allies have not reached a consensus on the methods to accomplish these goals. Currently, there appears to be no established strategy for how Kyiv might achieve victory.

It is time for that to change. The West must explicitly state that its goal is a decisive Ukrainian victory and Russian defeat, and it must commit to supplying Kyiv with direct military aid and to supporting the country’s burgeoning defense industry. Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, must work to advance until they can expel Russian forces from all occupied territory, including Crimea. As Ukraine makes progress toward this goal, it will eventually become clear to Russian citizens that they will continue to lose not only ground in Ukraine but also vast human and economic resources – and their future prospects for prosperity and stability. At that point, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime could come under substantial pressure, from both within and without, to end the war on terms favorable to Ukraine,” the analysts write.

Read the full text of the column at the following link.

Cover: Shutterstock

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