What possible challenges could NATO face if Russia achieves its objective in the Ukraine war?
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Regardless of whether the Russian Federation wins or loses, NATO is going to have to re-evaluate its ability to effectively prevent Russia's aggression.
While NATO was designed as a defensive alliance, it will now have to take into account the fact that Russia has to be treated as a rogue state.
I am sorry if this seems like I am trying to express my wishes rather than any actual analysis, but for what it is worth, I find the whole situation very regrettable.
Having said that, rather than respecting Russia's wishes, the only view which will be treated as acceptable in the immediate future will be any view which counters Russia's wishes. Russia's calculation that "the West" would try to buy it off, in order to keep the peace, has proven wrong.
The camel's proverbial back has been broken. And "the West" has woken up to the realization that it must do whatever it takes, rather than just whatever non-violence allows, to keep the threat of a violent Russian aggression at bay.
Small frame challenge: what are Russia's objectives in its fight with Ukraine? To the best of my knowledge, no one actually knows.
Vladimir Putin is a one-man show. Even his closest advisors were unaware of his action plan, except for the ones explicitly necessary for executing it.
It's not a mere failure to inform. Putin took explicit action to misinform both the West and Russia about whether he'd enter Ukraine or not. He has changed the story about what his goals are more than once.
I have myself made the strategic mistake of attempting to estimate Russia's objectives in the conflict. Since then, I've learned about other details that complicate the equation with economic factors.
To the best of my ability to extrapolate, if Russia achieves Russia's objectively important and openly stated objectives in the war, the challenges for NATO will be:
It's much harder to evaluate Putin's goals. They don't necessarily align with Russia's - he didn't so much campaign on a specific agenda as on the previous cabinet's failure. Taking his speeches as a basis, should Russia achieve Putin's objectives in the war, the challenges for NATO might include:
At this point in the war, this second option seems a fairly remote possibility. Putin has demonstrated that he's willing to go to war over alliance borders. He hasn't demonstrated that he's able to win one.