International Relations
November 21, 2022
Did Russia’s invasion of Ukraine make the world more dangerous?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and Ukraine’s unexpectedly effective resistance to it — affected most international events of the past year. One byproduct of the war: A re-energized NATO, preparing to meet a possible Russian military threat, bolstered by the expected addition of two Nordic countries that previously resisted joining the alliance. China, a leading consumer of Russian energy exports, has held back from fully supporting Russia in the conflict but is challenging the United States over Taiwan and a widening range of strategic, economic and political issues elsewhere. As the Biden administration seeks to re-establish a strong American profile in the Indo-Pacific region and the always-restive Middle East, it set “Out-Competing China and Constraining Russia” as top priorities in its latest National Security Strategy. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in November to discuss their relationship. Meanwhile, Iran has been shaken by weeks of national protests.

Photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visiting Kherson City, Ukraine, on November 14, 2022. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits Kherson City on Nov. 14th after Russian troops evacuate the strategically important southern city. (Getty Images/Anadolu Agency/Narciso Contreras)

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24, many experts predicted the foray would last days or, at most, weeks, given Russia’s huge advantage in personnel and equipment. However, a disciplined and well-trained Ukrainian military turned back poorly equipped and trained Russian troops seeking to capture its capital, Kyiv. Russian advances elsewhere were similarly pushed back. 1

In September, Russia annexed the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of eastern and southern Ukraine, declaring them Russian territory following Russian-administered referendums. 2 Other governments immediately dismissed the referendums as “shams.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the Principles of the U.N. Charter and international law.” 3