Insights on Russia's War in Ukraine, Global Citizenship, Vaccination Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

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March 25, 2022

This week, we discuss insights from RAND experts on the Russia-Ukraine war; treating patients with opioid use disorder; promoting global citizenship among Americans; the U.S. Army's new combat fitness test; increasing representation of women of color in workplace leadership; and how to overcome barriers to equitable COVID-19 vaccination.

Residents flee from the town of Irpin, Ukraine, after heavy shelling by Russia destroyed the only escape route used by locals, March 6, 2022, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Our Latest on Russia's War on Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began exactly one month ago yesterday. Our experts have been drawing on a vast body of relevant RAND research, providing key insights on important issues related to Russia's military; Ukraine's resistance; how the West can hold Putin accountable while preventing a wider conflict; the many political, diplomatic, and humanitarian implications of the crisis; and more.

Here's just a sample of what RAND researchers had to say in recent days:

  • As underscored by reports of Russian soldiers deserting, convoys stalling, and tanks running out of fuel, the invasion has not gone as Moscow expected. William Marcellino and Michael McNerney explore how the spread of such images on social media is shaping and sustaining Ukrainians' will to fight. Elsewhere, Marek Posard and Khrystyna Holynska write that Russia's stumbles betray problems with its military personnel system.
  • Marta Kepe and Anika Binnendijk, who have studied resistance and resilience in the Baltics, have stressed the importance of ensuring Ukrainian continuity of government. “Even if Russia's assault yields further gains in establishing territorial control,” they write, “Ukraine may still be able to thwart Russia's ability to solidify its political power.”
  • William Courtney has weighed in on two fronts, noting that the interests of private businesses in Russia may be aligned with those of Ukraine and the West, and exploring how Western leaders could begin to prepare to engage any new Russian government that might emerge as a result of regime change in Moscow.
  • As the Ukrainian refugee crisis continues to swell, Krishna Kumar has distilled lessons for host countries from RAND's body of research on Syrian refugee flows. His advice: Nations that protect people fleeing conflict should view this task not just as a humanitarian challenge but also as an economic opportunity.
  • Michael Johnson highlights seven long-standing assumptions that NATO should drop. For example, the alliance can now jettison the idea that a major war in Europe (or Asia) will never happen because of economic interdependence. The West should also abandon the notion that Russia will never attack NATO because of the alliance's mutual-defense clause, Johnson says.
  • According to Jeffrey Hornung, Russia's invasion of Ukraine demonstrates how the United States and its allies could prevent a Chinese invasion of Taiwan from becoming the world's next big crisis. Meanwhile, Derek Grossman has identified how lessons from the Russian invasion may apply to a scenario in which China attacks a different neighbor: Vietnam.
  • U.S. leaders edging closer to a decision about whether to take bolder action against Russia should be wary of “imperative-driven judgment,” says Michael Mazarr. It's essential for the United States to “ask the right questions before, rather than after, taking large-scale action; to check its sense of duty and moralistic commitment; and…to be sure it finds its way to wise action, rather than a road to disaster.”
  • The war in Ukraine is sure to be a watershed event. Raphael Cohen has outlined emerging trends that may upset the strategic balance in Europe. For instance, Russia will likely emerge weaker but not necessarily less dangerous, he says. And Europe will likely become stronger militarily, as well as less energy-dependent on and more unified against Russia.
A vial of buprenorphine and a syringe, photo by Hailshadow/Getty Images

Photo by Hailshadow/Getty Images

Sustaining Medication Treatment for Patients with Opioid Use Disorder

In 2018, there were more than 700,000 opioid-related visits to hospital emergency departments. According to a new RAND study, most people who fill prescriptions for their opioid use disorder during such visits do not continue the medication. This suggests that new approaches—such as “bridge clinics” that transition patients to community care—are needed to help people continue drug treatment that starts on an emergency basis.

A world map superimposed over people's raised hands, photo by Rawpixel/Getty Images

Photo by Rawpixel/Getty Images

Advancing Global Citizenship in America

A RAND paper released this week examines the evolution of American attitudes toward globalization and other forms of international engagement. The authors argue that globalization has been largely beneficial for both Americans and the rest of the world, decreasing poverty, improving well-being, and leading to greater peace. They explore ways to grow support for global citizenship among Americans, in part by ensuring that benefits are shared more widely.

Spc. Kiana Malbas, an automated logistical specialist, performs a two-mile run during a diagnostic Army Combat Fitness Test in Los Angeles, California, July 17, 2021, photo by SFC Christopher Oposnow/U.S. Army

Spc. Kiana Malbas performs a two-mile run during a diagnostic Army Combat Fitness Test in Los Angeles, California, July 17, 2021

Photo by SFC Christopher Oposnow/U.S. Army

A Review of the Army's New Combat Fitness Test

The U.S. Army is introducing a new fitness test for the first time in more than 40 years. The test—made up of six events including a maximum deadlift, hand release push-ups, and a two-mile run—is designed to ensure soldier readiness, reduce injuries, and promote overall fitness. In a new analysis, RAND researchers assess the test and provide recommendations to help inform the Army's implementation decisions.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she boards Air Force Two prior to departure from Bucharest after a trip to Poland and Romania amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, March 11, 2022, photo by Saul Loeb/Pool/Reuters

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris waves as she boards Air Force Two prior to departure from Bucharest after a trip to Poland and Romania, March 11, 2022

Photo by Saul Loeb/Pool/Reuters

Increasing Representation of Women of Color in Workplace Leadership

More women of color were elected to Congress in 2020 than ever before, not to mention the election of Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman (and woman of color) to hold the position. But similar steps toward more balanced representation haven't happened in leadership positions outside of politics. Zara Fatima Abdurahaman of the Pardee RAND Graduate School breaks down the existing research to find out what might be done to change this.

A still frame from a visual story created by V+J. The animation uses a “perpetual zoom” technique to immerse viewers in RAND research about vaccination equity, art by V+J

The artist team of Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre, known as V+J, created a unique visual story about public health equity that uses a “perpetual zoom” technique to engage viewers.

How to Promote Vaccination Equity

Throughout the pandemic, communities of color have seen lower vaccination rates than white communities. A recent RAND study examined a nationwide effort to change that, identifying common barriers to equitable vaccination and how to overcome them. In a new visual story for RAND's Art + Data program, visiting artists Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre (the team known as V+J) transform key findings from this study into a mesmerizing visual story.

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