The Russia-Ukraine War at Two: A Critical Appraisal of Western Policy

Despite offensives undertaken by both sides, the frontline in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has barely moved since the late autumn of 2022. One should not take this to mean that we have arrived at a permanent stalemate – the war has already featured several unanticipated developments, from Ukraine’s heroic resistance during the Battle of Kyiv to its stunning advances in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

Yet, as we enter 2024 and the war nears its two-year mark, the fact that neither the Russians nor the Ukrainians have achieved their strategic objectives offers an opportunity to re-evaluate the successes and failures of American and Western policy to date.

The West Reborn

If the purpose of US policy toward the Ukraine war is to bolster American primacy within NATO and Europe, then it appears to have succeeded.

After crisis-management operations in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya, NATO has rediscovered its old mission of collective defence. And although the EU has demonstrated growing aspirations in the realm of security and defence, the effect of the war has been to expose – and even deepen – Europe’s dependence on the United States. Despite continued uncertainty over the future of the transatlantic relationship, the EU has neither the ability nor the aspiration to assume responsibility for the territorial defence of Europe.