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
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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership are not irrational. Their primary goal is regime survival. To date, the Russian military’s poor performance in Ukraine does not present an existential threat to the Putin regime. Neither the Russian military’s failure to decisively defeat the Ukrainian military nor a Ukrainian victory that leads to complete expulsion of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory are likely to topple it.
Russian troops forced to beat a hasty retreat in Ukraine are leaving behind evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. As this body of evidence grows, officials and experts are becoming increasingly convinced that Russia is committing genocide against the Ukrainian people.
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.