A Year of War in Ukraine
Council President and Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo H. Daalder reflects on the one-year anniversary of Russia's war in Ukraine.
A year ago today, war returned with a vengeance to the European continent. For 365 days, the world has borne witness to the atrocities of war and the brutality Russian invading forces have inflicted on a besieged population. Cities have been bombed. Villages plundered. War crimes committed. Hundreds of thousands, young and old, killed and wounded. Millions fled.
The war has also had consequences far beyond Ukraine. Millions of displaced people have found shelter, food, and support throughout Europe. Global commodity prices—starting with food and fuel—have skyrocketed, leaving millions more destitute and spiking inflation.
All this is a reminder that what happens anywhere in the world affects all of us. Our world is interconnected—what happens there matters here, wherever “there” and “here” might be.
Fortunately, many have understood this—and acted accordingly. When he launched his war, Vladimir Putin counted not only on the weakness of Ukraine but on the divisions within the West to ensure a swift and successful end to his conquest.
He counted wrong. Ukrainians held fast and fought back. The West abandoned decades of misplaced hope in finding security through dialogue and trade and embarked on a massive armament program to help Ukraine defend itself. Europe rapidly weaned itself off Russian energy imports, at great economic cost to itself. NATO once again focused on defending its members—and Finland and Sweden abandoned centuries of neutrality and decided to join the Atlantic Alliance. Popular majorities in North America and Europe strongly supported these actions, even as the costs to themselves increased.
We’re unlikely to see a quick end to the war in 2023. Neither side will likely achieve a military victory. Nor will either settle for peace without achieving their territorial aims. We’re in for a long war. This will tax our patience and resolve—both of which may be slacking, according to recent polls.
Your commitment to understanding this and other global challenges and taking part in conversations about how they affect us all is critical. The Council is here to help you engage more fully in the world and to empower you to help shape it.