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 real-time insights that may help inform both immediate and longer-term policy responses to Russia's attack.

Russian Strategy and Capabilities

  • Footage released by Russia Ministry of Defense shows Russian soldiers from airborne units advancing in an undisclosed location in Ukraine, March 10, 2022, photo by Russian MOD/Eyepress Pictures/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Russian Military Has Failed Its Sons

    May 18, 2022

    The Russian military has a long history of mistreating its personnel and their frightened families. The military's culture of disregard for the lives and well-being of its personnel has done more than undermine their combat performance; it has also tanked their morale and will to fight.

Ukrainian Capabilities, Civilian Resistance, and the Will to Fight

  • Ukrainian service members walk on the front line near Kyiv as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 30, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    Time for a U.N. Peace Enforcement Operation in Northern Ukraine?

    Apr 27, 2022

    Now that the Russian military in Ukraine has retreated north, a de facto cease-fire is in place in Kyiv and central Ukraine. This could present an opportunity for the United Nations to call for a formal cease-fire in reclaimed territory and issue a recommendation to willing states to move into Ukraine with a peacekeeping force.

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

    Mar 25, 2022

    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.

Diplomatic and Political Dimensions

  • U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on arming Ukraine, after touring a Lockheed Martin weapons factory in Troy, Alabama, May 3, 2022, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Escalation Fixation

    May 6, 2022

    Fears of global nuclear annihilation should have produced a concerted effort by all sides to keep the Ukraine conflict limited. But the focus on escalation—rather than ensuring Russia's defeat—has instead made the international security picture more precarious.

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

    Jan 31, 2022

    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.