The Truman View

The voice of Truman members, writing in their personal capacity.

February 20, 2022
Truman Fellows Comment on Escalation of Tensions on Russia/Ukraine Border

Truman Fellows Comment on Escalation of Tensions on Russia/Ukraine Border

Written by
Bart Szewczyk
Laurie Watkins
Jeff Mankoff
Shirley Martey Hargis,
Bryce Barros

Russia’s increasing threats against Ukraine and associated escalations around the separatist-controlled regions of the country pose an imminent danger to Ukraine and Europe.

We invited Truman Fellows to respond to the question: What are the long-term implications of a full-scale Russian invasion in Ukraine?

Bart Szewczyk, Security Fellow "Putin's decision to invade Ukraine must fail, which is why the West must help Ukraine fight and ultimately prevail. America and Europe share a core interest in giving Ukrainian democracy a chance to succeed. It is the largest European country by territory, the sixth largest by population, and its future will profoundly shape the future of Europe and the West. Thus, beyond swift and severe sanctions to limit Russia's ability to inflict damage, we must also become the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy--funding, equipping, training, and organizing Ukraine's defense forces until its democracy is safe and secure."

Laurie Watkins, Political Partner, “There is great fear across the globe, but particularly here in the U.S. of implications that would be felt quite quickly of a Russian invasion into Ukraine: energy prices could soar, while other industries like food, cars, and airplanes would be hurt, significantly disrupting supply chains. The shock to international stability could hit global markets. Russia might respond with disruptive cyberattacks on U.S. targets. And, a major invasion would likely spark a refugee crisis. Ultimately, Russia’s interest is to see how far they can push.” 

Jeff Mankoff, Security Fellow "A full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine would provoke the largest security crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War. It would create a humanitarian crisis and unleash waves of refugees towards Europe. Led by the U.S., NATO would have to mobilize significant assets to maintain confidence in the robustness of the alliance's Article 5 security guarantees for vulnerable member states. Unable to deter a large-scale assault on Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies could be forced to acknowledge Russia's demands for a sphere of influence in much of the post-Soviet region. Meanwhile, sanctions and other measures would accelerate Russia's decoupling from the U.S.-led international order, raising the risk of Russia's own destabilization, but ushering in a new era of European division echoing the bloody legacy of the 20th century."

 Shirley Martey Hargis, Security Fellow "If the U.S. does not support Ukraine, the PRC will try to employ one of the Three Warfares, specifically "psychological warfare," to try and make Taipei doubt America's support. The PRC used America's withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years to manipulate attitudes in Taiwan too. Whether Russia invades Ukraine or not, the PRC will not militarily invade Taiwan in the near future because that move entirely dismisses the 20th Party Congress, which is of supreme political importance to Xi, who seeks to realize a groundbreaking third term as China's leader. Taipei understands this, so we must be careful about drawing parallels between Ukraine and Taiwan. That being said, China's leadership will consider the possibility that the U.S. is not willing to go out of its way to protect its allies and that's a problem for America."

Bryce Barros, Security Fellow and TruAsia Co-Lead,  “Putin risks making Russia a de facto client state of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which is not only a liability for Russia and a Russian political elite with strong ethno-nationalist beliefs, but it also poses a problem for the PRC. It risks undermining the PRC's foreign policy by attaching itself to a de facto client state in Russia that is less risk averse than themselves and more willing to seek open conflict with the West. Additionally, the Russophone ethno-nationalist beliefs of Russian political elites and the ‘Han Chauvinist’ worldview of their PRC counterparts has the potential to make Sino-Russian relations very rocky and uncomfortable for both countries, echoing past Sino-Soviet Cold War tensions.”

Truman Fellows comment in their personal capacity and not on behalf of the organization. The views expressed here are their own. 



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Truman National Security Project
Bart Szewczyk
Security Fellow
Laurie Watkins
Political Partner
Jeff Mankoff
Security Fellow
Shirley Martey Hargis,
Security Fellow
Bryce Barros
Security Fellow and TruAsia Co-Lead