Russia's War in Ukraine: Insights from RAND

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

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

On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, setting off the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II. Ukraine has mounted a strong defense despite being vastly outnumbered, but Russian bombing and shelling have pummeled Ukrainian cities, civilian casualties are growing by the day, and the fighting has sparked an enormous refugee crisis.

As the war rages on, it's unclear what will happen next. But high-stakes questions loom large. How might the conflict evolve on the ground, at the negotiating table, and in the information space? How can the international community support Ukrainian refugees? And what can the West do to hold Putin accountable while mitigating the risk of a wider war between Russia and NATO?

A vast body of previously published RAND research and analysis can shed light on these questions, and dozens of RAND experts are providing timely insights that may help inform both immediate and longer-term policy responses to Russia's attack.

Russian Strategy and Capabilities

  • People walk across Red Square near St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower in central Moscow, Russia, September 21, 2022, photo by Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Trouble with Russian Blacklisting

    Analysis, informed by interactions with Russians, offers Western leaders a window into Russia. Blacklists hinder this process. With the stakes so high, much depends on experts' success in getting their analysis right.

    Dec 15, 2022

Ukrainian Capabilities, Civilian Resistance, and the Will to Fight

  • Ukrainian artillerymen who destroyed columns of Russian equipment near Kyiv stand on defense of the Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine, December 16, 2022, photo by Dmytro Smoliyenko/Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    How the War in Ukraine Could End Sooner Than Expected

    There are predictions aplenty that Russia's war on Ukraine will persist. But it could also end soon. Kremlin regime change, a Russian army collapse, or a Ukrainian win are possible. None of these contingencies should be ruled out.

    Jan 17, 2023

Refugees and the Humanitarian Crisis

  • People fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine rest in a temporary refugee center located at a local track-and-field athletics stadium in Chisinau, Moldova, March 4, 2022, photo by Vladislav Culiomza/Reuters

    Commentary

    With the Ukrainians, Avoid the Mistakes of Other Refugee Crises

    Because of Russia's invasion, millions of Ukrainians have fled their country or are internally displaced. At this critical moment, European Union countries have an opportunity to avoid some of the worst pitfalls of how the world has handled other refugee crises.

    Mar 25, 2022

Diplomatic and Political Dimensions

  • Ukrainian servicemen are seen near the frontline in Soledar, Donetsk region, Ukraine, January 23, 2023, photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak/Reuters

    Report

    Avoiding a Long War in Ukraine

    The United States has a strong interest in avoiding a long war in Ukraine. Although Washington cannot alone determine the war's duration, it can take steps to make an eventual negotiated peace more likely.

    Jan 25, 2023

U.S. Strategic Competition with Russia

  • U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021, photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

    Report

    U.S. Strategic Competition with Russia Is Here to Stay

    Competition between the United States and Russia occurs at many levels, from the military arena to the economic, political, and social realms. A review of 58 RAND reports on this topic highlights major findings and explores key aspects of the deteriorating U.S.-Russia relationship.

    Jan 31, 2022