Emily Harding is associate director and senior fellow of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Imagine, if you will, a headline from January 2032. It reads “Ceasefire signed between warring parties in Ukraine, ending 10 years of fighting for control of Kyiv.”
As Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to escalate, such a timeline is neither impossible nor pessimistic. Instead, this is the best way for Ukraine to win a draw with Russia, and that victory will only be possible with NATO members’ continued support against the Russian occupation.
Ukraine’s military is now fighting hard to defend their country against Russian aggression – harder than Moscow anticipated. In the first few days, Ukrainian forces shot down many Russian helicopters and planess, citizen-soldiers deflected attacks on Kyiv, and Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island in the Black Sea became hero for their defiance under the fire. Scattered reports from the front lines also suggest that the Russian military says they think they are only militarily involved exerciseflinched when asked to open fire on the Ukrainians.
Thanks to the bravery of the Ukrainians and a Russia’s risky offensive strategy, Moscow is far from guaranteed of a quick victory – indeed, the war is far from over. But if Russia manages win a conventional war and take Kyiv in the coming days, it is certain that Moscow will immediately seek to gain leadership and declare the new regime responsible for all elements of state power.
Ukrainian military units will then face a terrible choice: They can surrender to the puppet government, not knowing whether they are being charged or not. list Ukrainians are killed or captured; they can try flee with thousands of other refugees; or they can melt into the darkness and continue the fight as rebels.
Ukrainian rebels will have distinct advantages. They have a populace ready to support them, and world powers are eager to see Moscow pay for its aggression. If an insurgency develops, NATO members should step up critical support to fighters, in the form of weapons, training, secure communications and safe havens. If Moscow’s control were to stop at the Dnieper River, this uprising could be based on a protected land in Western Ukraine. But if the entire country falls, NATO members on the periphery of Ukraine will need to establish safe exit routes for people and entry routes for weapons.
The goal of such an uprising would be to increase costs for Moscow to maintain control of Ukraine and put pressure on the Kremlin. Domestic outcry in Russia is flaring, with protests being held across the country. On the first day of combat, there more protesters were arrested in Russia than casualties in Ukraine. Discontent in Moscow will only continue to grow as the economy deteriorates and Russian casualties increase. As the conflict progresses, Putin will likely want to make his puppet regime the face of the conflict – but the international community must keep in mind and make it clear that it is the Russians who cause the war and the Russians who commit it. War Crimes.
As such, the goal of NATO members must be to prevent Russian aggression in the Dnieper and prepare for a long battle to retake Ukraine. The respective strategy will require attack, defense, and most of all, patience.
Violations would include the organization of devastating sanctions aimed at increasing internal Russian opposition to Putin’s adventurism, keeping a stable Ukrainian government with the financial – and military support, and a range of actions demonstrating NATO’s solidarity and commitment. Defense will probably be more important, especially in creating resilience and appropriate security measures in the cyber domain. Putin will seek to thwart NATO support for Ukraine in undeniable ways, and in the end cybermeasures have become his tool of choice.
Of course, patience will be the hardest test. In the early days of this crisis, the world’s attention was focused on the life-and-death struggles unfolding in the streets of Kyiv, and outrage at Russian aggression ran high. But soon, the international community will ask the international community to back its claim with sacrifice: Oil prices will rise, refugees will need homes, and cyberattacks will cause disruption.
It is important to remember that most the uprising lasted an estimated 8 to 10 years. Despite the 24-hour news and short election cycle, NATO members need to think about a 10-year support strategy for the Ukrainian people.
That can be a painful reality to face, but unless they happen, the alternative to the title above will be much darker. Instead, it would fully depict Ukraine under Moscow’s control, and a Russian threat lurking in Moldova and Eastern flank of NATO.
https://www.politico.eu/article/ukraine-russia-kyiv-get-ready-for-a-long-war/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Get ready for a long fight - POLITICO