Coherent Identifier About this item: 20.500.12592/524bnc

Why Russia Still Loses If It Wins a War against Ukraine

30 January 2022

Summary

Talks continue between the US and Russia, which is vital for both sides. However, Moscow dismissed Washington’s written response to its proposals as inadequate, offering the prospect of dialogue only on secondary issues. Analysts disagree over how close Moscow is to attacking Ukraine, but few doubt that war is possible and would be a disaster for all concerned.The US doesn’t plan on fighting Russia. To his credit, President Joe Biden rejected the machinations of the Washington War Party. He noted that Kyiv is not a member of NATO and thus the Article 5 defense “obligation does not extend to … Ukraine.” He also promised that there are “not going to be any American forces moving into Ukraine,” indeed, that “We have no intention of putting American forces or NATO forces in Ukraine.”However, the administration has threatened to impose significant economic sanctions on Russia, disrupting trading relationships around the world. Diplomatic relations would go into a deep freeze. The president also is considering a major military build‐​up elsewhere in Europe, “deploying several thousand US troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe,” according to the New York Times. The US would end up more deeply enmeshed in European affairs while the allies would become even more dependent on America despite Washington’s long‐​standing demand that they take over greater responsibility for their own security.Economic consequences of the inevitable sanctions would be enormous and political relationships even with relatively Russo‐​friendly nations such as Germany would be disrupted.Of course, war would be even worse for Ukraine. Whatever Russia’s defense sensitivities, Moscow should not be threatening to attack its neighbor, whose people are entitled to choose their future. Even a limited “incursion” would have high economic and human costs.Such a conflict also could not help but convulse Europe. Economic consequences of the inevitable sanctions would be enormous and political relationships even with relatively Russo‐​friendly nations such as Germany would be disrupted. Although not directly threatened militarily, Europeans would feel insecure and be under pressure to devote greater resources to their armed forces.Finally, Russia, even if the military victor, would be a big loser. The Russian people would suffer from a wave of new and tougher sanctions. Although Moscow has worked to de‐​dollarize its economy and hopes for support from China, living standards would suffer—while the Russian people would gain no measurable benefit from President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical maneuvering.

Creators/Authors

Doug Bandow
Senior Fellow, Cato Institute