The West's Response to Russia, the State of the Union, Outer Space: RAND Weekly Recap

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March 4, 2022

This week, we discuss how the West can make sure Russia's war on Ukraine doesn't turn into a war with NATO; insights from RAND on the State of the Union; the lives of veterans experiencing homelessness; Costa Rica's carbon-neutral future; and pandemic-era challenges to supporting students with disabilities.

Destroyed military vehicles on a street, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, March 1, 2022, photo by Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

Photo by Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

How to Ensure Russia's War with Ukraine Doesn't Become a War with NATO

Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine requires a forceful response from the United States and its allies. But RAND's Samuel Charap warns that the West must consider the possibility that its actions could lead to the only outcome worse than the invasion of Ukraine itself: a hot war between Russia and NATO.

Accidents or miscalculations could lead to escalation. For example, a Russian aircraft could stray into nearby NATO airspace. A Russian targeting error in the fog of war could lead to a missile strike on NATO territory. Or, Russian troops could misinterpret NATO's efforts to reinforce frontline allies as an attempt to intervene in Ukraine—and then respond accordingly.

Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the risk, Charap says. For instance, U.S. and NATO military leaders should maintain communication with their Russian counterparts. U.S. and allied military leaders should also factor in escalation concerns when deciding what assistance to deliver to Ukraine and how to deliver it.

Such measures may help ensure that, as the West rightly imposes costs on Russia, it does so in a way that avoids a broader war that would cause even more death and destruction.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2022, photo by Saul Loeb/Pool via Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2022

Photo by Saul Loeb/Pool via Reuters

State of the Union: Insights from RAND

In his first State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Biden rebuked Russia for its “premeditated and unprovoked” attack on Ukraine before moving on to discuss several key domestic issues. To develop effective solutions for problems at home and abroad, policymakers will need to rely on objective, nonpartisan resources. That's why we've rounded up insights from RAND research, analysis, and expertise.

Global communication network concept network dots surrounding planet earth with focus on America. Information exchange via satellites, illustration by Thomas/Adobe Stock

Illustration by Thomas/Adobe Stock

The Not-So-Distant Future of Space

How humans use outer space is changing rapidly. To understand what this second “space race” might bring, researchers at RAND Europe have been exploring potential extraterrestrial opportunities and threats between now and 2050. One key takeaway: As new space markets and use cases emerge, the space sector may become increasingly indistinguishable from the wider global economy.

Temporary shelters inside the Veterans Administration complex in West Los Angeles, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Temporary shelters inside the Veterans Administration complex in West Los Angeles

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

The Lives of Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

Tens of thousands of U.S. veterans are without permanent housing, living in cars, temporary shelters, or makeshift camps. What keeps these former service members on the streets? To find out, RAND experts followed 26 veterans experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles for one year. The researchers identified missed opportunities and needless barriers to helping veterans in need—and what could be done to help them secure permanent housing.

Illustrated graph shows how Costa Rica could reach net-zero emissions by 2050 under its National Decarbonization Plan. Achieving net-zero emissions is estimated to create a net economic benefit of $40.9 billion, visualization by Gabrielle Mérite

Costa Rica's carbon-cutting investments would provide an estimated return of 110 percent.

Design by Gabrielle Mérite

Costa Rica's Carbon-Neutral Future

In her final piece for the RAND Art + Data program, artist-in-residence Gabrielle Mérite visualizes Costa Rica's goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Mérite created a series of images that combine illustrations inspired by the Solarpunk art movement with data from a recent RAND analysis showing how Costa Rica's decarbonization investments could pay off. (A new study by the same researchers explores how the country could have a “green” recovery from COVID-19.)

Teenage student getting help from her parent during remote school, photo by Imgorthand/Getty Images

Photo by Imgorthand/Getty Images

Educating Students with Disabilities: Lessons from the Pandemic

How have secondary school teachers educated students with disabilities during the pandemic? Did educators have adequate resources? Were teachers confident in instructing these students? A new RAND survey asks these questions and more, revealing that many long-standing obstacles to supporting students with disabilities remain unchanged in the COVID-19 era.

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