On first September 1939 a dictator who had been left free by western powers to occupy and annex Austria and Czechoslovakia without consequences ordered an invasion of Poland, which quickly escalated into the worst conflict ever seen by mankind. This was the result of a foolish attitude of the British and French foreign policy toward Germany, popularly know as appeasement. United Kingdom and France prayed that Hitler would have stopped his action sooner or later, satisfied of his conquests and it didn’t work. Winston Churchill said: “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”. In 1939 France and United Kingdom have war. Eighty-three years later another dictator who had been left free to occupy parts of Georgian and Ukrainian territory launched a full scale military invasion of Ukraine, in order to occupy it and destroy its national identity by absorbing its people into a new Russian Empire. This analysis is aimed to assess the causes of Russian invasion of Ukraine and on the basis of this, providing a blueprint to manage this crisis in the right way and avoid similar action by retaliating power in the future.
THE SECOND APPEASEMENT
On 21 November 2013 Ukrainian people started his protest against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, the protests were mainly caused by the decision of the government to not sign the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement under Russian pressure. Yanukovich government tried to crack down the protests through brute strength killing more than 100 people, his intent failed and he was later overthrown by protesters on 23 February in the so called “Revolution of Dignity”. Soon after Russian unmarked “green man” took over the Supreme Council of Crimea and later Russian Armed Forces occupied the peninsula and on 18 March Russian government annexed it and started a proxy war in Donbass region. Russian actions violated the Budapest Memorandum and undermined the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of an independent country, but United States didn’t counter Russian aggression adequately, Obama Administration refused to send lethal military aid to Ukraine and allowed Russia to occupy nearly 7% of Ukrainian territory, but the subsequent post-war management of Ukraine dossier by President Obama was even worse. There are two possible mistakes in conduct foreign policy, making a wrong decision and not making a decision. Obama Administration never answered the question “What should we do with Ukraine?” and made the second one. President Obama approved funds for training and non-military aid for Ukraine, but never provided lethal-military equipment despite request from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and pressing from Congress and also didn’t create security guarantees for Ukraine. President Obama effectively left Ukraine into a “grey zone”, providing an inadequate support and don’t pledging the USA in guaranteeing Ukraine security. In 2017 Trump Administration made a first step by approving the sale of anti-tank system FGM-148 Javelin to Kyiv, but this was a little step in the right direction not followed by other significant variation of the US policy toward Ukraine. Trump administration didn’t substitute old soviet Ukrainian equipment with western weapons, severely undermining the interoperability between USA and Ukraine and making more difficult to supply weapons in the case of a war. In 2021 after the humiliating US withdraw from Afghanistan Russia started a military build-up near the Ukrainian border, Biden Administration immediately ruled out any possible deployment of US troops in Ukraine, giving Russia a green light to invade the country. On 24 February 2022 Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, the second appeasement failed. Once again the West choose the dishonour and once again it had war.
RESTORE UKRAINE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY
Even when Russia was amassing troops near Ukraine, President Joe Biden provided weapons suitable to stop a Russian offensive, but not tank or long-range artillery needed to launch a counter offensive and drive invasion forces out of Ukraine after absorbing the initial attack. Ukrainian forces had broken the back of Russian assault on Kyiv on the first day when the ZSU destroyed Russian airborne forces at Antonov Airport, preventing a rapid assault on the capital. By 27 February Ukraine had repelled Russian assault on the main cities forcing Russian army to fight an attrition war on a very long front, on 29 March Russian force started to withdraw from Kyiv and Chernihiv, which was quickly followed by another withdraw from Sumy. Ukraine won the battle for its existence, but due to the lack of supply of weapons like tank and artillery the ZSU was unable to drive Russian force completely out from Ukrainian territory, the front became static with minimal changes in the subsequent two months, and Ukrainian Armed Forces needed new capacity to launch an effective counteroffensive. The turning point was represented by the supply of M77 howitzers and M142 HIMARS multiple rocket launcher, through these weapons Ukraine expanded dramatically its artillery range and was able to destroy Russian ammunition deposit and logistic supply lines, this laid the ground for the counteroffensive conducted by General Oleksandr Syrski, which culminated with the liberation of Kharkhiv Oblast and the city of Kherson, which left in Russian hands only the south east of Ukraine and a great part of Donbass. Now it’s necessary to implement two actions: firstly restoring Ukrainian territorial integrity, secondly providing to Ukraine appropriate tools required to accomplish this goal. Regarding the first objective the restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity it’s necessary to revive its economy, Russia still controls territories marked by a high economic importance like the Kinburn Peninsula, whose control allows the use of the ports of Mykolaiv and Kherson, and the port of Berdjans’k on the Azov Sea. Crimea Peninsula is also marked both by a high strategic importance, due to its role in 2022 invasion and a high economic importance (it accounted nearly 3.6% of Ukraine GDP in 2014). So, Russia has always used the occupation of territories belonging to other post soviets countries as an instrument to retain its supremacy and preventing to join international organizations like NATO and EU. Restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity will greatly facilitate its economic recovery, will make far harder a new possible Russian invasion and will make Ukraine free to do its foreign policy choices without Russian interferences. Regarding the second objective, Ukraine war presents now a different strategic situation, as well as after Russian withdraws from the north of the country. Once again there is a different strategic situation and once again Ukraine needs new capacity. First of all, Ukraine’s allies have provided weapons and ammunitions from their stockpiles so far, but now the stockpiles are running low. The US produces 14,000 155 mm shells each month, while ZSU fires nearly 8,000 artillery shells every day. At the same time the last Russian territories have been subject to the longest occupation and are closer to Russian borders, so the supply lines of Russian forces stationed here are now shorter. Given the new strategic situations the best solution is providing high-end arm system to Ukraine1, in particular battle tank, multirol fighter aircraft and long range missile system. Long range missile system and multirol fighter aircraft could be used to hit high value targets out of the range of Ukrainian artillery, like Russian troops concentration and logistic lines, as well as air bases used to launch air attack against Ukrainian cities. While battle tank can help Ukrainian forces to break Russian lines minimizing their losses. So, the supply of high end weapons would have three major effects
Expanding Ukrainian capabilities to hit high values military targets
Relieving the pressure on the US industrial complex, in particular for the supply of 155 mm shells, giving it time to gradually increase the production
Shortening the length of the conflicts
PREVENTING A FUTURE RUSSIAN AGGRESSION
After restoring Ukrainian territorial integrity it’s fundamental to ensure that a Russian military aggression won’t never materialise again. This result could be achieved through three steps: rearming Ukraine Armed Forces, undermining Russian rearma-ment efforts and establishing an international obligation system to guarantee Ukraine’s security.
Rearming Ukraine Armed Forces will be fundamental to deter a possible future invasion, or to repel it in little time if it will materialise. The rearming program for Ukraine should be focused on providing tools required to achieve three main objectives:
weakening Russian forces in the first part of the invasion by providing long range weapons needed to hit Russian military concentration and supply lines in the backlines
assuring that Ukrainian forces could retain their capabilities after the initial attack so to employ them in the second part by providing anti-aircraft system, fake targets an counter artillery radar
rolling invasion forces back by providing tank and fighter aircraft required to perform an effective counteroffensive
Undermining Russian rearmament efforts
International sanctions have severely undermined Russian military production, Russian defence industry is very reliant on imported microelectronic components. US ban on semiconductor export caused a big drop in Russian weapons production, in particular for high precision weapons system, which is highly affecting the military invasion of Ukraine2. After the war’s end Russia will conduct an effort to rebuild its armed forces, so it’s fundamental to maintain the present regime of sanctions in order to avoid that Russia could represent again an effective military threat to Ukraine.
Establish a system of international obligation to guarantee Ukraine’s security
After Russian Invasion of Ukraine political debate in Sweden and Finland turned in favour of NATO accession and both the countries applied to join the alliance. The US and the UK assured to protect Finland and Sweden during the period between NATO application and accession. This insurance along with Ukrainian resistance prevented any Russian aggressive action against Sweden and Finland. After the war’s conclusion it will be necessary to ensure Ukraine’s security and territorial integrity through a system of international obligation involving the US.
PRESERVE THE STABILITY OF THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER
Russian Invasion of Ukraine represented the most terrifying setback for the US deterrence system since the end of the Cold War, but thanks to Ukraine heroic efforts and the American support it could be turned into the greatest US foreign policy success since the Gulf War. The influence of the Ukraine War isn’t limited to Europe, but this conflict will shape the international order for decades, this invasion is an attack to the rules-based international order which have helped to build a more prosperous and safer world. Allowing Russia to occupy even just the south east of Ukraine would means that the US is no longer committed to defend the international order, this would constitute a very bad signal, both to our allies, that would be worried about American willing to defend them and to other retaliating powers like China, which would regard this as a green light to invade their neighbours. Instead restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and providing a clear path to the international institution to which it aspires to join would preserve the rules based international order and deter other retaliating powers to carry out hostile action like this. In 1942 the Allies issued the “Declaration by United Nations”, with which they pledged themselves to fight the Tripartite Pact until complete victory. After their success in 1945, they created a new international order which has prevented any other world war, now once again it’s necessary to go on until a complete Ukrainian victory. Winning the war and the peace in Ukraine it’s pivotal to create a safer world. In 2014 a people which revolted against an authoritarian, other directed and corrupt regime was invaded by an imperialist dictator aimed to preserve his influence sphere, but we turned our backs, this resulted in the greatest conventional war in Europe since 1945, which is causing tens of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars of damage. Now it’s time to repay our debts.
Graduating in Political Science at University of Naples Federico II
1 We can win a battle of production lines with Russia. But there’s a better way-Max Boot
2 Tech Sanctions Can Deindustrialise Russia-Bohdan Bernatskyi