Senators Graham and McCain pose with Ukraine’s Azov Nazi troops.
The Pentagon’s Favorite Think Tank Calls for
Swift End to the Ukraine Conflict
Felix Livshitz / RT News
(January 29, 2023) — The RAND Corporation, a highly influential elite national security think tank funded directly by the Pentagon, has published a landmark report stating that prolonging the proxy war is actively harming the US and its allies and warning Washington that it should avoid “a protracted conflict” in Ukraine.
The RAND Corporation believes the
fighting must end sooner rather than later.
Rand concludes US intentionally provoked war.
What Are the US’ Interests in Ukraine?
The report has an unequivocal title, “Avoiding a long war: US policy and the trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” which provides a strong indication as to its contents.
It starts by stating that the fighting represents “the most significant interstate conflict in decades, and its evolution will have major consequences” for Washington, which includes US “interests” being actively harmed. The report makes it very clear that while Ukrainians have been doing the fighting, and their cities have been “flattened” and “economy decimated,” these “interests”are “not synonymous” with Kiev’s.
The US ending its financial, humanitarian and particularly military support promptly would cause Ukraine to completely collapse, and RAND cites several reasons why doing so would be sensible, not least because a Ukrainian victory is regarded as both “improbable” and “unlikely,” due to Russian “resolve,” and its military mobilization having “rectified the manpower deficit that enabled Ukraine’s success in the Kharkiv counteroffensive.”
From the perspective of US “interests,” RAND warns that while the Kremlin has not threatened to use nuclear weapons, there are “several issues that make Russian use of nuclear weapons both a plausible contingency Washington needs to account for and a hugely important factor in determining the future trajectory of the conflict.”
Vladimir Putin, at a meeting with Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, orders to bring the nuclear deterrent forces into a special combat duty mode. © Kremlin
And What Are the Risks for the US?
The think tank believes the Biden administration “has ample reason to make the prevention of Russian use of nuclear weapons a paramount priority.” In particular, it should seek to avoid a “direct nuclear exchange” with Moscow, a “direct conflict with Russia”, or wider “NATO-Russia war.”
On the latter point, RAND worries that US general Mark Milley’s demand that the conflict stay “inside the geographical boundaries of Ukraine” is on the verge of being disrespected, as “the extent of NATO allies’ indirect involvement in the war is breathtaking in scope,” including “tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and other aid” and “tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support,” along with “billions of dollars monthly in direct budgetary support to Kiev.”
Such largesse could, RAND forecasts, prompt Moscow to “punish NATO members…with the objective of ending allied support for Ukraine; strike NATO preemptively if Russia perceives that NATO intervention in Ukraine is imminent; interdict the transfer of arms to Ukraine; retaliate against NATO for perceived support for internal unrest in Russia,” if the Kremlin concludes the country’s national security is “severely imperiled.”
These outcomes are “by no means inevitable,” but still represent an “elevated” risk, particularly in light of incidents such as a Ukrainian air defense missile striking Polish territory in November 2022 — a situation exacerbated by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky falsely claiming it was a deliberate Russian strike. While this event “did not spiral out of control, it did demonstrate that fighting can unintentionally spill over to the territory of neighboring US allies.”
Another incident like that could mean “the US military would immediately be involved in a hot war with a country that has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.” This, as well as a conventional conflict between NATO and Russia, is a prospect Washington should avoid at all costs, RAND argues.
A clear implication is the US could lose such a conflict, one key reason being, as pointed out by RAND, “the intensity of the military assistance” being given to Ukraine by its Western backers is already approaching an “unsustainable” level, with US and European weapons stocks “running low.” This consequently means a longer war equals more Ukrainian territory reunified with Russia.
Is There a Solution?
On the subject of territorial losses, RAND is unmoved by arguments Ukraine should attempt to recapture all that it has lost since 2014, as “greater territorial control is not directly correlated with greater economic prosperity” or “greater security.” Land having been retaken by Kiev since September means “Russia has imposed far greater economic costs on the country as a whole.”
RAND also considers the worth of arguments that “greater Ukrainian territorial control” should be assured “to reinforce international norms, and to foster Ukraine’s future economic growth” to be “debatable,” as even in the “unlikely” event Kiev pushes “beyond the pre-February 2022 line of control and manages to retake areas that Russia has occupied since 2014,”the risks of escalation from Moscow, including “nuclear use or an attack on NATO” will “spike.”
“The Kremlin would likely treat the potential loss
of Crimea as a much more significant threat
both to national security and regime stability.”
All these factors make “avoiding a long war…the highest priority after minimizing escalation risks,” so RAND recommends the US “take steps that make an end to the conflict over the medium term more likely,” including “issuing assurances regarding the country’s neutrality,” something that Moscow had requested before the conflict began, to deaf ears, as well as “sanctions relief for Russia.”
However, the report warns against a “dramatic, overnight shift in US policy,” as this would be “politically impossible — both domestically and with allies,”instead recommending the development of “instruments” to bring the war to a “negotiated end,” and “socializing them with Ukraine and with US allies” in advance to lessen the blow. This process should be started quickly though, as “the alternative is a long war that poses major challenges for the US, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.”
. . . .
What this proposal ignores is that Western leaders have consistently proven they cannot be trusted to respect or adhere to treaties they have signed and brokered with Russia, such as the Minsk Accords, which former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted were never intended to be implemented, but rather to buy time for Kiev.
It may be the case then that Moscow won’t be interested in RAND’s solution at all, and choose instead to finish the war on its own terms.
• ‘If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning’: How a landmark speech paved the way for the US to unleash death and destruction,’ RT News, January 28, 2023
• “NATO’s best tanks are going to Ukraine, what will it mean on the battlefield?” RT News, January 25, 2023 3
Avoiding a Long War US Policy and
The Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Samuel Charap and Miranda Priebe / The Rand Corporation
- Since neither side appears to have the intention or capabilities to achieve absolute victory, the war will most likely end with some sort of negotiated outcome.
- We conclude that, in addition to averting possible escalation to a Russia-NATO war or Russian nuclear use, avoiding a long war is also a higher priority for the United States than facilitating significantly more Ukrainian territorial control.
(January 2023) — Discussion of the Russia-Ukraine war in Washington is increasingly dominated by the question of how it might end. To inform this discussion, this Perspective identifies ways in which the war could evolve and how alternative trajectories would affect US interests. The authors argue that, in addition to minimizing the risks of major escalation, US interests would be best served by avoiding a protracted conflict.
The costs and risks of a long war in Ukraine are significant and outweigh the possible benefits of such a trajectory for the United States. Although Washington cannot by itself determine the war’s duration, it can take steps that make an eventual negotiated end to the conflict more likely.
Drawing on the literature on war termination, the authors identify key impediments to Russia-Ukraine talks, such as mutual optimism about the future of the war and mutual pessimism about the implications of peace. The Perspective highlights four policy instruments the United States could use to mitigate these impediments:
• clarifying plans for future support to Ukraine,
• making commitments to Ukraine’s security,
• issuing assurances regarding the country’s neutrality, and
• setting conditions for sanctions relief for Russia.
This effort was sponsored by Peter Richards. Initial funding for the Center for Analysis of US Grand Strategy was provided by a seed grant from the Stand Together Trust. Ongoing funding comes from RAND supporters and from foundations and philanthropists. This effort was conducted within the RAND Center for Analysis of US Grand Strategy, an initiative of the International Security and Defense Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).
This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
In Ukraine, this report is already denounced as Russian influence since Samuel Charap before 2013 participated in Putin’s Valdai Discussion Club.
Meanwhile, “Funding” section of the report mentions that “Initial funding for the Center for Analysis of US Grand Strategy was provided by a seed grant from the Stand Together Trust.” Stand Together, according to Wikipedia, is linked with Charles Koch who has interests in Russia and was reluctant to cease operations there due to sanctions.