Arsenal of democracy vs Putin’s ‘Hail Mary Pass’ in Ukraine


An independent expert mission set up within the OSCE Moscow Mechanism today released its report documenting human rights violations, international humanitarian law (IHL) violations, and possible war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. 

“The Mission found clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations by the Russian forces on many of the issues investigated. This concerns, in particular, their conduct of hostilities,” reads the report (download here).

America is following an “arsenal of democracy” strategy in Ukraine: It has avoided direct intervention against the Russian invaders, while working with allies and partners to provide the Kyiv government with money and guns, notes Hal Brands. That strategy, reminiscent of U.S. support for Britain in 1940-41, has worked wonders. Yet as the war reaches a critical stage, with the Russians preparing to consolidate their grip on eastern Ukraine, the arsenal of democracy is being depleted, he warns in The Washington Post.

Don’t bet against the world’s leading economy — and all of its democratic allies — in a long war. But don’t think that America would effortlessly produce what it needs to win, Brands cautions.

Appointing General Alexander Dvornikov to save the day is a Hail Mary, argues STRATFOR analyst George Friedman. But this misses the point. Even if Dvornikov’s brutality can somehow pacify Ukraine, it will convince the rest of the world to keep sanctions in place, thereby institutionalizing their crippling economic effects. Economic warfare is being waged by a massive global coalition.

Perhaps the most important revelation from watching Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s former TV show, “Servant of the People,” is its direct refutation of the idea that Ukraine is not a liberal democracy. Weirdly, it does that by highlighting how it’s not a great liberal democracy, Tufts University’s Daniel Drezner writes for The Post:

The overarching theme of “Servant of the People” is the corruption that plagues the country and the government. Holoborodko and his plucky band of reformers hit wall after wall trying to run the government in an ethical and efficient manner. (One of the show’s clever touches is to show Ukrainian oligarchs constantly playing Ukrainian “Monopoly” — without ever showing their faces — as they cope with Holoborodko’s unpredictability.) There is no deep state in “Servant of the People,” just deep-pocketed billionaires.

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