It’s been written many times – Ukraine has given the world a glimpse of what future warfare might hold. In this period, Kiev announced plans to unveil a new kind of tank, that would best Russian tanks. However, it doesn’t appear that they can afford the production of the tank. Still, experts believe that a new bold tank would not change the almost trench warfare that’s raging in the Donbass. At the same time, Ukraine is requesting increased arms from the U.S. as a more decisive decision from the West looms.
The White House is not devoid of distractions and strategic conundrums, today. But, Ukraine is still a poignant centerpiece of Russia’s recent re-engagement on the global stage. The escalation of tensions with North Korea in the South Pacific mixed with the U.S.’s southeast pivot might mean Ukraine falls to the wayside indefinitely. The Russian presence in Ukraine has increased, as well. Touching back on the topics of tanks: Russia has twenty times the tanks compared to Ukraine to date. Ukraine, along with the rest of eastern Europe, presumably is increasingly concerned about Russian posturing to invade their nations. The glaring problem is that no one seems to have Russia figured out.
When it comes to understanding Russia – it doesn’t look like the west has made significant progress. Predicting or forecasting what an adversary might do relies on some base knowledge and a model of behavior. It’s impossible to say what sort of understanding has taken place within governments. When Poroshenko was set to win the Ukrainian election in 2014 and was asked if Russia would acknowledge his victory – even then, he said: “Russia is unpredictable.”
In the United States, we rarely hear and learn about different foreign elections. We were tuned into the French election, as well as the Brexit vote before it. It felt like that was out of self-interest and trying to understand our electorate. We’re accustomed to being asked to understand other nation’s internal politics. As a result, we may look at the behavior of nations, like Russia, and only see part of it. Just as leadership can dictate our foreign policy – their internal politics and decision-making can influence Russian active measures. Similarly, our lack of understanding of North Korea makes it all the more mystifying and scary a prospect to imagine that nation with a nuclear weapon. We understand its structure – but we lack a nuanced understanding of how things work in that complex system. All that being said – we might be more susceptible to distractions than not.
What’s the future of Ukraine and can anyone gauge what it might be? It seems to be increasingly in the hands of Russia, who may slice off a piece of Ukraine for themselves. No doubt that would reverberate through Europe and have 2nd and 3rd order effects that may affect our geopolitical influence in the region.
Featured image courtesy of Yahoo.com (Yahoo News)