Russia and Ukraine, Climate Migration, Democracy in Asia: RAND Weekly Recap

blog

December 10, 2021

This week, we discuss what could happen if Russia invaded Ukraine; how countries are planning for climate migration; Americans' feelings on vaccine globalism; the state of democracy in Asia; Taiwan's new defense strategy; and marijuana legalization.

Ukrainian Marines take part in multinational Sea Breeze 2021 military exercises involving more than 30 countries near Kherson, Ukraine, July 2, 2021, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Ukrainian Marines take part in multinational Sea Breeze 2021 military exercises involving more than 30 countries near Kherson, Ukraine, July 2, 2021.

Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

If Russia Invaded Ukraine

With a major buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, concerns are growing that Russia could launch an attack. According to RAND experts, if Russia does invade Ukraine, then its aim will likely be to create “shock and awe” that would overwhelm Ukraine's defenses or will to fight.

But the United States and its NATO allies could react in a way that goes well beyond their response to Russia's 2014 assault on Ukraine. And with substantial help from the West, Ukraine is prepared to mount a formidable resistance.

In sum, the researchers say that the United States, its NATO allies, and Ukraine could impose immediate and painful costs on any Russian invaders. And it might not end there. For many years after, Russia could face reinforced NATO military power.

People walk on flooded land beside the Padma River as the flood situation worsens in Munshiganj district, on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 25, 2020, photo by Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

People walk beside the Padma River as a flood worsens on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 25, 2020.

Photo by Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

What Countries Are Doing to Address Climate Migration

As the effects of climate change increase in scope and severity, more and more people will be forced to relocate. A new RAND paper examines how different countries are responding to the growing pressures of climate migration. The findings can provide policymakers with options as they consider how to meet the needs of climate migrants and the communities that host them.

Authorities receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States through the U.N. Covax program in La Paz, Bolivia, September 26, 2021, photo by Josué Antonio Castañeta/Ulan/Pool/Latin American News Agency via Reuters

Authorities receive vaccine donations, La Paz, Bolivia, September 26, 2021.

Photo by Josué Antonio Castañeta/Ulan/Pool/Latin American News Agency via Reuters

How Americans Feel About Vaccine Globalism

The emergence of the Omicron variant has highlighted the ongoing global threat of COVID-19. As the United States considers new plans to share vaccines with other nations, RAND survey data offer insights into American public sentiment. The survey—which took place in September, when the Delta variant was still peaking—shows high support for sharing vaccines. This may reflect recognition of the need to proactively address the pandemic beyond U.S. borders to truly be on the path to recovery.

A woman casts her vote during the by-election in Port Dickson, Malaysia, October 13, 2018, photo by Lai Seng Sin/Reuters

A woman casts her vote in Port Dickson, Malaysia, October 13, 2018.

Photo by Lai Seng Sin/Reuters

How Stable Is Democracy in Asia?

Asia is the only region in the world where democracy scores have improved over the last two decades. But a new RAND report finds that democracy in Asia remains fragile. This is true for both new and long-established democratic governments. The authors identify several factors associated with this trend, as well as policies that can support democratization.

The Second Battalion of the 99th Brigade of the Republic of China Marine Corps at the Presidential Palace in Taipei, Taiwan, July 6, 2020, <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/presidentialoffice/50082396406/in/photostream/">photo</a> by Wang Yu Ching/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>

Republic of China Marine Corps at the Presidential Palace in Taipei, Taiwan, July 6, 2020.

Photo by Wang Yu Ching/CC BY 2.0

What's Behind Taiwan's New Defense Strategy?

Taiwan's strategy for defending against a Chinese attack is not the approach the United States wants. According to RAND's Raymond Kuo, this is because Taipei does not have a clear security commitment from Washington—even though American intervention is essential to any defense. Until such a commitment is secured, Taiwan will always focus on whether the United States “will show up to a fight, rather than how they can best fight together.”

Marijuana in a jar, photo by MmeEmil/Getty Images

Photo by MmeEmil/Getty Images

Marijuana Legalization: Not a Clear-Cut Decision

Germany recently took a step toward regulating the sale of recreational marijuana. But reforming cannabis policy is not simply a choice between prohibition and legalization, says RAND Europe's Stijn Hoorens. It's crucial to consider the entire supply chain. Early experiences in the United States suggest that it's “extremely difficult to make trade-offs in favor of public health once the genie is out of the bottle,” he says.

Listen to the Recap

Get Weekly Updates from RAND

If you enjoyed this weekly recap, consider subscribing to Policy Currents, our newsletter and podcast.