After weeks of mounting pressure for the West to deliver heavy tanks to support Kyiv’s war effort, German Leopards, U.S. Abrams, British Challengers and more are now heading to Ukraine. While all of them will be helpful to a degree, the Leopards will be particularly vital and should be the focus of Western efforts.
Over the past decade, the use of smartphones to check the latest news updates has become the first reaction of many people to crisis. But as debates over the lessons that militaries can learn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shown, the fragmented nature of digital information flows can distort perceptions of events.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany has been weening itself off of its dependence on Russian energy, despite grave predictions about the potential fallout, including fears of a financial meltdown. But as the winter cold has descended on Europe, these concerns of rationing and shortages have not been borne out.
The Russia-Ukraine war will drag on for some time more, but it will end someday. So, what will that ending look like? It’s appalling to think that Ukraine should ever grant anything to Russia in order to end the war. But in all likelihood a deal ending the war will be brokered, with both sides making concessions.
Vladimir Putin has worked diligently to thwart any threat to his rule from liberal critics, using intimidation and exile to clear his left flank. The real threat to his hold on power, and to the cohesion of the Russian state, now comes from active and outspoken players on the far right with their own battle-hardened militias.
Mongolia ended 2022 with a bang when protesters stormed the seat of government in the capital in December. The demonstrations fizzled out, but the corruption allegations that triggered them continue to rankle. Combined with other problems at home and complex relations with China and Russia, 2023 is shaping up to be a challenge.
What drives the disproportionate amount of aid going to Ukraine compared to crises outside Europe? One answer often given is racial bias, because many Ukrainians are white Europeans. But geographical proximity and Western publics’ perception of the nature of this particular crisis could also be playing a role.
Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio warned before the outbreak of war in Ukraine that a full-scale invasion would force Japan’s hand on supporting economic and political efforts to isolate Moscow. Since then, Japan’s opposition to the war in Ukraine has only sharpened, with a lasting impact on bilateral relations.
The process leading to Kevin McCarthy’s election as speaker of the House lent itself to jokes, but it could have serious negative consequences. The debacle placed U.S. national security in jeopardy in the short term. It is also a bad omen for the functioning of the U.S. government, and for the world, over the next two years.
The war in Ukraine took a significant turn this week with the announcement that France is sending tanks to Ukraine, something that NATO members, including the U.S. and U.K., had long resisted. The move comes amid concerns that a Republican-controlled Congress in the U.S. may significantly cut aid to Ukraine.
Sometimes, the most significant news is something that is widely expected to happen, but doesn’t. That is the case with one aspect of the war in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022: that it has so far failed to become a bitter partisan wedge issue in the polarized politics of Western democracies.
For many, predictions are simply a fun exercise. But for pundits, they are more than that, as they offer a stress test for how well we truly understand our world. In order to predict, we must first understand. In that spirit, then, here’s my own stab at predicting what 2023 will have in store: a true “end of history” moment.
Afghan commandos who fled to Iran to escape the Taliban are now being recruited to fight alongside the Russian military in Ukraine. Tempted by high salaries and lacking stable incomes or other means of support for their families, many of these U.S.-trained fighters see joining the war effort in Ukraine as the least bad option.
When books are written and movies made about moments of extraordinary historical change, the narratives that take shape focus on acts of heroism. But not every citizen whose support a democracy needs to survive is a hero. There will also be quite a few people whose commitment to a cause—or moral compass—is shaky.