Devising the strategy to deter Russia and weaken Putin

From: Chatham House
Published: Wed Mar 09 2022


A coherent strategy needs to deter Russia from further atrocities, prevent aggression beyond Ukraine, withstand its threats globally, and hold it to account.

The response to the invasion of Ukraine is a mixture of shock and horror, with Russia condemned in the UN Security Council and by an overwhelming vote in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). But despite this, Moscow is ramping up the military pressure by shelling in Kyiv, Mariupol, and Kharkiv, and trying to get its convoy into the Ukrainian capital - it is time to move beyond disbelief.

The first aspect of a strategy is to ensure NATO's capacity for deterrence is boosted by more combat forces able to defend territory - recently this has meant additional troops, ships, and aircraft to reinforce the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania along the Black Sea coast. The US has played a major role in this effort, sending part of the 82nd Airborne Division to Poland and redeploying US Strycker brigades from Germany and Italy to the Baltic states and Romania - surpassing all the European efforts combined.

NATO has also mobilized its high-readiness Reaction Force for the first time and aims to establish four new multinational battalions in the Black Sea region with France offering to lead the Romania one. Although most deployments are temporary, the receiving allies would understandably like NATO to commit to permanent stationed forces.

This would oblige the alliance to break formally from the pledge it made to Moscow in 1997 not to station substantial combat forces or nuclear weapons or build military infrastructure on the territory of its new member states in eastern Europe. But this was a political undertaking linked to circumstances at the time - given Russia's behaviour, there is no reason for NATO to keep to it.

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Company: Chatham House

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