Image credit: DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

May 11, 2023

NATO must codify these lessons from Ukraine while motivation is there

By Ira Straus and Jim Townsend

A year after Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine began, there are still vital lessons to be learned — with the most important question being how the alliance can encode these lessons into its collective mindset, so its leaders can avoid repetition of past mistakes. NATO failed to deter the attack on Ukraine, and wasn’t ready to support Kyiv when the attack came. We need to look back, see what worked, what failed, and draw serious conclusions before we settle back into routine.

Measured by the yardstick of history, NATO is an unprecedented success. The West needs it to stay that way.

We too often repeat mistakes at the outset of each crisis. We failed to deter Russia’s invasion in both 2014 and 2022, and then wrongly assumed a quick defeat of Ukraine. Then we moved far too slowly on weapons transfers to Ukraine, getting shamed into them, backing into them, always too little too late, as if our goal were not to succeed but to mollify domestic critics. And when we have sent weapons, it has come after too much public deliberation about whether to provide assistance, giving Russia full warning of the assistance to come and inviting Putin to threaten an escalatory response.

Read the full article from Breaking Defense.

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