October 4, 2022
Ambassador, Ukraine to the United States
Vice President, Russia, and Europe, U.S. Institute of Peace
Executive Director, McCain Institute
Chief of Staff and inaugural National Security Fellow, Institute for the Study of War
Former Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Nearly eight months after Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, many are left wondering how long the conflict will last and how the West can help resolve it.
Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of the International Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosted an InSTEP conversation with leading voices of the ongoing conflict to discuss new developments, the wider geopolitical implications, and predicted outcomes.
The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Should ‘Send a Clear Message' to Other Aggressors
Ambassador Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, opened the discussion by emphasizing the importance of Ukraine winning the war and calling for continued assistance.
“It's very important to have justice for Ukraine and for Ukrainians, but also to send a clear message to everyone else who decides to do [this],” Ambassador Markarova said. “While we are trying to win in this war and return peace and security to our region, this solution is something that could be replicated and used in order to increase the global peace and the global security situation.”
She ended on a hopeful note, reaffirming the strength of the Ukrainian people.
“This is our home. [These are] our people, [these are] our children, and we will defend them until the last breath,” she said.
Experts Believe Ukraine Could Win the War With Enough Support
The conversation turned to the current status of the war and estimates from panelists about how long the war may last.
Ambassador William Taylor, Vice President, Russia, and Europe, U.S. Institute of Peace, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, stated that Ukraine is in a good position to end the conflict within months, maybe not years.
“Ukrainians are doing great at this point, they've got the momentum, and they can win this war,” he said. “The Ukrainian military is clearly superior to the Russian military. And that could cause … a disintegration of the Russian military inside the country.”
Jennifer Cafarella, Chief of Staff and Inaugural National Security Fellow, Institute for the Study of War, agreed with Ambassador Taylor and reiterated Ambassador Markarova’s call for further support.
“We need to push now, not only because … Putin will only stop when he is stopped,” she said, “but also because we have a time-bound opportunity — the Ukrainians are winning.”
Ukraine Shouldn’t Allow Putin to Buy Time to Regroup
The panelists discussed various ways in which the war could end, many of which centered on decisions to be made by Vladimir Putin.
“Right now, Putin is at a dangerous point, and he's, as usual, trying to buy time,” said Dr. Evelyn Farkas, Executive Director of the McCain Institute, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.
“It is essential that the United States and NATO come to Ukraine's aid and continue to see this war through and not provide Putin the opportunity he is starting desperately to seek — to step back, regroup, and take the time necessary to mobilize a more capable force,” Cafarella added.
Reconstruction Will Involve Collaboration
In the aftermath of the war, Ukraine will face major reconstruction not only of its cities but also of its internal political and economic systems. Dr. Farkas advised that when the time comes, the West and Ukraine need to work together to establish reconstruction objectives.
“First with the Ukrainian government … we need to know what their priorities [are],” she said. “One of the lessons learned from Afghanistan was that we didn't go through the central government [or] use them to implement and funnel funds. So we have to take ourselves out of the equation in terms of our presence in the country.”
For the moment, when reconstruction is still in the distant future, Cafarella insisted that Western countries take action.
“It is the moment to help Ukraine win this war,” she said. ”Will Putin try to unleash more brutality on Ukraine? Possibly. Will it win him the war? Only if it breaks Ukraine's will to fight. And I think they've made it pretty clear in over 200 days of fighting that [this] objective is not one that Putin will achieve.”
From the Series