Global security mandates Ukraine to win

Global security mandates Ukraine to win

CIUS weekly report on North American media coverage of Ukrainian affairs, 19–25 May 2024

Five publications (Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Toronto Star, and Globe and Mail) were selected to prepare this report on how Ukraine has been portrayed in the North American press during the past week. The sample was compiled based on their impact on public opinion as well as on their professional reputation, popularity among the readership, and topical relevance. These publications represent centrist viewpoints on the political spectrum.

This MMS report covers only the most-read and relevant articles about Ukraine, as ranked by the respective North American publications themselves in the past week. Its scope covers promoted articles on home pages and articles from special sections on Ukraine, with the hashtag #Ukraine, from the paper editions of the publications, and about Ukraine from opinion columns and editorials.

  • The world and Ukraine: Ukraine needs a theory of victory; Ukraine needs a long-term strategy; global security mandates Ukraine to win; the US must decide on a strategy for Ukraine.
  • Russia at war:  Kremlin power struggles deepens factional tensions. 

Ukraine needs a theory of victory. Andriy Zagorodnyuk and Eliot A. Cohen (Foreign Affairs) argue that Ukraine needs not only more military and financial aid, but also a theory of victory. The aid package approved by the US Congress will undoubtedly help Kyiv in countering Russian aggression, but it is not enough. The aid package alone cannot answer the main question facing Ukraine: “how to win the war.” The US has no long-term strategy to support Kyiv in Russia’s war against Ukraine: “Washington’s only real long-term statement—that it will support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’—is, by itself, meaningless.” Washington needs to define what Ukraine’s victory and Russia’s defeat mean. Unlike its Western allies, Kyiv has clearly defined its goals: “they include the liberation of all territory within its internationally recognized borders; the return of prisoners of war, deported citizens, and kidnapped children; justice through war crimes prosecution and compensation; and the establishment of long-term security arrangements.” The authors believe that it is time to reconcile these positions: “The West must explicitly state that its goal is a decisive Ukrainian victory and Russian defeat, and it must commit to supplying Kyiv with direct military aid and to supporting the country’s burgeoning defense industry. Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, must work to advance until they can expel Russian forces from all occupied territory, including Crimea.” Instead, any talk of negotiations is meaningless, as they “at best leave Ukraine crippled, partitioned, and at the mercy of a second Russian invasion. At worst, it would eliminate the country altogether.” According to Andriy Zagorodnyuk and Eliot A. Cohen, Russia’s war against Ukraine “is not taking place in a vacuum. An adverse outcome would be felt around the globe.”

Ukraine needs a long-term strategy. Eric Ciaramella (Foreign Affairs) emphasizes that Ukraine’s security depends on the West’s long-term commitment. The delay in the US Congress’s decision to aid Ukraine and Kyiv’s postponement of mobilization have already had a significant negative impact on the course of hostilities. The first issue has already been resolved, the second is in the process of being resolved: “Kyiv is trying to fix its manpower shortage and has asked its NATO partners to help train recruits inside Ukraine. This would be a faster and more effective way to prepare Ukrainian soldiers for battle.” However, neither weapons nor people alone can ensure Kyiv’s victory in the war and guarantee Ukraine’s security. There is a more significant problem that needs to be addressed: “the lack of a coherent strategy to confront the long-term threat that Russia poses to Ukraine—and to European security.” Kyiv, with the support of the US and other allies, should propose a strategy “that revolves around enhancing its defense capabilities and rebuilding deterrence over the long term.” According to the author, deterring Russian aggression will require three elements: denial, punishment, and credibility. The denial implies that Ukraine should build a defence industry that will make a future Russian invasion impossible. Second, the punishment includes “the contingency plans to impose meaningful costs on Russia if it attacks Ukraine again after a hypothetical cease-fire agreement is reached.” Last but not least, credibility implies that Western countries fulfil their obligations to ensure Ukraine’s security. According to Ciaramella, “Achieving a durable peace will be impossible without a clear vision for Ukraine’s long-term security. The Kremlin must understand that its goal of subjugating Kyiv is not achievable—not now, and not ever. Only then might the Russian leadership come to the table for meaningful talks—and accept Ukraine’s independence in the long run.”

Global security mandates Ukraine to win. Richard Levine (National Interest) emphasizes that Kyiv’s victory in Russia’s war against Ukraine will lead to the deterrence of autocracies in other hotspots around the world. Therefore, the US cannot be indifferent in supporting its strategic ally: “By supporting Ukraine, we prevent a larger European war that may involve America’s military due to our Article 5 treaty commitment to the integrity of NATO member states. By helping Ukraine, we prevent Russia’s reconstitution of its old empire, which would act in accordance with Iran and China, to dictate world fossil-fuel prices, causing cascading economic strife in America and across the globe.” According to the author, any agreement “that substantiates Russia’s domination of Ukrainian provinces, including parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson Oblasts, as well as Crimea, is unacceptable.” The occupation of these Ukrainian territories “coupled with Moscow’s influence over Transnistria in Moldova since 1992 and its suzerainty over Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia since 2008, will set the template for China’s invasion and intended dominion over Taiwan and areas of the South China Sea, for it would control parts of the First Island Chain.” The surrender of Ukrainian territories could also lead to terrorist attacks aimed to “destabilize Israel and the Arab Gulf states.” According to Levine, “Anything resembling a Russian victory in Ukraine will resound across the world, imperiling free nations on distant continents.”

The US must decide on a strategy for Ukraine. Keith Johnson (Foreign Policy) argues that Washington’s policy towards Ukraine is contradictory: on one hand, the US is looking for mechanisms to financially support Kyiv in its opposition to Russian aggression, and on the other hand, it is limiting Ukraine’s ability to wage war. Ukraine’s allies, including the US, are close to finding a mechanism to turn frozen Russian state assets into financial aid for Kyiv: “This week’s G-7 meeting of finance officials in Italy is expected to lay the groundwork for a breakthrough deal worth as much as 50 billion euros.” This initiative is intended to replace the previous one, which proved to be unviable due to a lack of consensus among the allies: “The idea, which will be discussed at the meeting this week in Italy and likely further developed in meetings over the summer, is to use the approximately 3 billion euros in annual proceeds from Russia’s 300-odd billion euros in frozen state assets to underwrite a loan for Kyiv worth as much as 50 billion euros.” If approved, this initiative would allow Kyiv to reduce its huge financial burden in the medium term and would insulate future aid to Ukraine from possible political upheaval in the United States after the November presidential election. However, such a significant step in support of Ukraine is undermined by Washington’s restrictions on the use of US weapons deep inside Russian territory: “the U.S.-driven progress in unlocking more aid for Ukraine remains undermined by the continued restrictions placed by the United States and some other Western allies on exactly what Ukraine can do with the military assistance it receives.” According to Johnson, “We continue to be in a situation where Ukraine has to fight with one hand tied behind its back.”

Canada might face tough choices if Ukraine fails to halt Russian aggression. Eugene Czolij (Toronto Star) reminds readers that between January 24, 2022, and February 29, 2023, Canada allocated approximately $2.86 billion in military aid to Ukraine. Such commitment placed Canada ninth among nations supporting Kyiv, according to the Ukraine Support Tracker of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. While this contribution is significant, it lags behind several other countries, including the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to stand with Ukraine “with whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.” The 2024 Canadian budget earmarks only $1.6 billion over five years for military aid to Ukraine, equating to about $320 million annually, which is merely 22 percent of the aid provided in each of the first two years of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Czolij argues that Canada must increase its military assistance to Ukraine to prevent a larger conflict and uphold international principles. U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine in his State of the Union address, warning that if unchecked, “Putin will not stop at Ukraine.” The author stresses that Ukraine serves as a critical bulwark against Russian aggression, which could otherwise escalate into a broader war involving NATO members, including Canada. Therefore, bolstering Ukraine’s defence is not only a moral imperative but a strategic necessity for global security. 

Kremlin power struggles deepens factional tensions. Nina L. Khrushcheva (Globe and Mail) argues that in Russia, the prosecution or punishment of public figures has typically been reserved for those opposing Vladimir Putin’s rule or his “special military operation” in Ukraine (the Kremlin has mandated the use of the term “special military operation” for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Censorship laws, enacted in the early days of the war, enable authorities to arrest/imprison individuals who criticize Russia’s actions in Ukraine or merely refer to the situation as a “war”), particularly if they are not high-ranking officials. However, the recent arrest of Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov for alleged bribery defies these norms, indicating deepening tensions among powerful factions within Russia due to the absence of coherent leadership from Putin. This internal discord underscores the instability as Russia’s elites, who were compelled to align with Putin’s vision following the all-out war with Ukraine on February 22, 2022, are increasingly forced to improvise without clear strategic direction. Consequently, the state’s former monolithic structure is fracturing, with groups like the FSB seizing opportunities to weaken rivals such as the Defence Ministry, epitomized by Ivanov’s fall and Sergei Shoigu’s demotion. These internal conflicts and reshuffles, including the rise of Andrei Belousov as Defence Minister and Aleksei Dyumin’s new role, suggest a Kremlin effort to reorganize around the war agenda. Nevertheless, the lack of consultation and clarity in Putin’s policies risks undermining his support, mirroring historical precedents. For instance, Khrushchev’s unilateral de-Stalinization efforts and Gorbachev’s top-down perestroika reforms, both pursued without building broad consensus, led to significant political upheaval and their eventual ousters. “Russian history suggests that policies pursued without sufficient consultation or clarity can become a threat to a leader’s rule, with support quickly turning into opposition,” Khrushcheva adds. This lesson is crucial for Putin, who, despite admiring Stalin, could learn from the pitfalls faced by Khrushchev and Gorbachev, she concludes. 

G7 officials advance discussions on frozen Russian assets for Ukraine. David Mchugh (Globe and Mail) reminds readers that financial officials from the Group of Seven (G7) democracies are making headway on a U.S. proposal to leverage frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine, but a final agreement remains pending until the June summit of national leaders. The meeting, held in Stresa, Italy, saw officials discussing how to utilize the estimated $260 billion in Russian central bank assets frozen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Host Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti acknowledged the progress but cited ongoing “legal and technical issues” that need resolution. The U.S. Congress has authorized the seizure of $5 billion in Russian assets within the U.S., while European nations, holding most of the frozen assets, are cautious due to legal concerns and potential Russian retaliation. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s proposal to borrow against future interest from these assets, potentially releasing $50 billion for Ukraine, faces European apprehensions regarding its legal complexities and the risk of Russian countermeasures. Additionally, the G7 finance ministers addressed the issue of China’s state-backed green energy technology production, which the U.S. views as a threat to global economic stability. The U.S. has imposed significant tariffs on Chinese imports, including a 100% tariff on electric vehicles (EVs), to protect its economy from inexpensive Chinese goods. The U.S. position emphasizes that China’s overcapacity poses a risk not only to American industries but also to other G7 and developing countries, as it undermines the competitiveness of local companies worldwide.

Media Monitoring Service

Media Monitoring Service (MMS) critically assess dominant narratives, including a special focus on disinformation, in selected key Canadian and US publications regarding contemporary Ukraine. The purpose of MMS is to inform experts and the general public about how Ukraine and Ukraine-related events are covered and reported on and to alert them to contentious ideas and claims that may be perpetuated in the media to Ukraine’s detriment. Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Up To Date

Subscribe to our email list for regular updates, direct to your inbox.