The United States has rallied the world to Ukraine’s defense, working with our allies and partners to provide critical security, economic, and humanitarian assistance while leading unprecedented efforts to impose costs on Russia for its aggression. This week, President Biden traveled to Kyiv and Warsaw to send a powerful message that the United States will remain with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
In launching his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin assumed that millions of Ukrainians were still committed to the idea of an all-Russian nation, that Ukraine’s post-Orange Revolution governments had pursued a policy of purging Russian influence under the direction of foreign sponsors, and that the only way to stop this drift toward Europe was through military force. This hubris rested on a profound misunderstanding of both the deep roots of Ukrainian identity and the degree to which Ukraine has changed in the years since the Soviet collapse.
For many Ukrainians, especially those from linguistically and regionally distinct communities, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. There are millions of them, and they are being denied their right to speak up for what they believe in. Their views are vilified in the media, their legal opportunity to defend them is taken away, and some of them are even murdered.
Despite the success of Vladimir Zelensky’s campaign, Ukraine will face significant challenges in forming a functioning government that can hold its own against the forces of aggression and regain legitimacy on the ground and in the information space. Dozens of RAND experts are already working to address the wide-ranging questions that will arise on the frontlines and in the negotiating rooms.