Today, Ukraine is fighting to save its young democracy against an unprovoked and unjustified Russian invasion. Long plagued by corruption and a weak rule of law and traditionally separated by language and religion, Ukrainians have united in defense of their national sovereignty and, with international assistance and support, managed to stifle early Russian military advances. But to stave off Russian aggression in the long term — as well as rebuild in the aftermath — Ukraine will need to maintain this unity. USIP provides analysis and support for policies that can help sustain Ukrainian democracy in the face of Russia’s invasion and facilitate the dialogue and diplomacy that will be required to ultimately defeat it.
Read more about the current situation in Ukraine
The United States and its allies are seeking ways to promote a sustainable peace in Europe — one that ends Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine and strengthens a global prohibition on such wars of aggrandizement. Tragically but realistically, Russia, like most historic imperial powers, will need to be defeated militarily before it abandons war as a means to dominate its neighbors. Any negotiated peace before such a defeat will simply let Russia rebuild its forces and renew its assault. Yet even as the West should maintain full support for Ukraine’s defense, such as the tanks much discussed this month, it should encourage negotiation toward specific goals.
Amid military struggles in Ukraine, Russia’s presence in Syria is slowly receding, setting off a series of regional shifts from Turkey, Iran and Israel that could have major ripple effects on U.S. national security interests, says USIP’s Mona Yacoubian: “There are too many actors there for it be a simple math equation.”
How will Ukraine’s war evolve in 2023, and can it yield a path to peace? Analysts’ scenarios for the war are full of unknowns. Yet one certainty is that Ukrainian soldiers and civilians will continue to fight Russia’s assault with every weapon at hand — or with none. Building a sustainable, rather than illusory, path to peace must take account of the Ukrainians’ determination. And laying such a path will benefit from noting that the immediate option for peace rests in the hands of Vladimir Putin, who on any given day could end this war by withdrawing his forces.
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.
While religion has not been a primary driver of conflict in Ukraine, its distinctive history and recent politicization have ensured that it remains an important aspect of the broader context surrounding the current war. Religion has shaped the formation of conflict narratives, as well as understandings and perceptions of the war within different communities. Misunderstanding and indifference to the role of religion in society can significantly exacerbate conflict dynamics, while understanding the peacebuilding potential of religious communities can shape interventions and create opportunities for future stability and social cohesion.