Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine shattered decades of international efforts to preserve peace in Europe Almost overnight, Russia has gone from an important actor seeking to upend the international system to a pariah state, the subject of devastating economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. And Putin’s growing willingness to employ indiscriminate violence in service of his geopolitical ambitions makes it even more crucial for the international community to remain unified in pressuring Moscow for an end to the bloodshed. USIP is committed to developing a new portfolio of analysis and research that addresses the threat Russia poses to both Ukraine’s sovereignty and the rules-based international system.
Vladimir Putin is under increased pressure as Russia continues to lose ground inside Ukraine. Faced with the prospect of stark losses — potentially leaving Russia in a worse position than before its February 24 invasion — Moscow may be embarked on an “escalate to de-escalate” strategy. By raising the specter of a nuclear confrontation twice in recent weeks, Putin may in fact be seeking a way out of his dilemma marked by Russia’s strategic failure in Ukraine. The coming weeks will be critical as Putin pursues nuclear brinksmanship — possibly even repositioning tactical nuclear weapons — while actually seeking an exit.
With Ukraine making massive gains on the ground, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s escalating threats "show that [he] is getting a little bit desperate," says USIP's Mary Glantz. "He's been feeling a lot of pressure to show some victories," which has left the world "holding their breath to see what might happen."
In recent weeks, Ukraine’s swift counteroffensive has led to the discovery of yet more heinous acts committed by Russian forces against Ukrainian military personnel and civilians. These add to a growing list of atrocities discovered in towns like Bucha and Irpin. Indeed, as the war has ground on, we have heard a lot about Russia committing crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity, possibly even genocide. The types of crimes are numerous and somewhat confusing. It’s worth taking a moment to sort out the differences between the basic categories of crimes, to better understand what’s happening in Ukraine, and to contemplate what these crimes may mean for the future of world peace.
Russia’s massive assault on an independent Ukraine menaces not only Eastern Europe, but the human effort, since World War II, to build global peace through the international rule of law. USIP provides analysis and support for policies that can help sustain the democracy, dialogue and diplomacy that will be required to ultimately defeat this threat.