The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a resumption of old great power rivalries that many analysts believe will shape global politics in the decades ahead. But it could also prove to be one of the most costly and wasteful conflicts in recent history.
Since Russia began its aggression, several of its assumptions have proven incorrect. They included the belief that the Ukrainian government would crumble; that it could take Kyiv and other cities swiftly; that the EU and a largely disengaged broader international community would show little resolve; and that Russia’s invasion would go unpunished by the West.
In the early weeks of the war, Ukraine pushed back, securing the strategic cities of Kharkiv and Yenakieve, and defending its contested southern and eastern regions from Russian attacks. Ukraine’s military has shown resilience and determination in the face of overwhelming odds, and the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has emerged as a compelling and inspiring leader.
In response to the Russian invasion, Ukrainian citizens have reaffirmed their commitment to their nation and its values. They have re-embraced their heritage, including Ukrainian language and culture, and demanded international recognition of the Stalinist famine as an act of genocide. The new Ukrainian leadership prioritizes strengthening ties with the Euro-Atlantic West as a hedge against future Russian interference. But it remains unclear whether the Kremlin will end its war-making or allow a stalemate that could drag on for years, resulting in high economic costs and human suffering.