What Are the West’s Strategic Goals in the Ukraine War?
While the outcome of the Ukraine war remains uncertain, the West’s strategic aims, particularly how it intends to treat Russia in the event that Ukraine prevails, will have huge consequences. At stake is whether victory leads to more inclusive and equitable multilateralism or strengthens autocracies and deepens global divisions.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Ukraine war and the world’s reaction to it will be a decisive factor in shaping the global political and economic order in the decade ahead. In particular, the Western allies’ actions, narratives, and planning regarding both Russia and the role of the Global South in Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction will indicate what their long-term strategic goals are. Does the West simply want to see Russia defeated and NATO enlarged and strengthened, or can it envisage a “victory” in Ukraine that lays the foundations for a world in which democracy is more secure and global governance more inclusive and effective?
While the outcome of the fighting remains uncertain, the West’s strategic aims, particularly how it intends to treat Russia in the event that Ukraine prevails, will have huge consequences. The big question is whether the allies will seek to punish Russia as a whole by imposing severe reparations or instead target President Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime in a way that limits the burdens imposed on the Russian people.
At the beginning of the war, the Western allies emphasized that defending the United Nations Charter and democracy were their primary objectives. In late spring, some US strategists and officials advocated permanently weakening Russia as a strategic goal, although it is not clear whether this would still be an objective in the event of regime change in Russia.
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