The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific Region
Policymakers and scholars gathered to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific. Presenters examined the conflict from the perspective of Japan and the United States as well as the possible impact it may have on the international order. Admiral (Retired) Harry B. Harris, Jr., the 24th Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command from 2015 to 2018 and United States Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2018 to 2021 gave the keynote presentation. Kenko Sone, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles, and Yuko Kaifu, President of Japan House Los Angeles introduced the event. Other panelists included: Taisuke Abiru, Senior Research Fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation; Dara Massicot, senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation; and Michael Mazarr, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. The event was moderated by Jeffrey Hornung, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation.
This event is part of a series that examines issues related to the U.S.-Japan alliance. This video is the full proceedings of the September 15, 2022 event. This series is an initiative of the International Security and Defense Policy Program (ISDP), part of the RAND National Security Research Division.
Video 1 The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific Region: Keynote Presentation
Jeffrey W. Hornung
It is my pleasure and personal honor to begin today's proceedings by welcoming the Honorable Harry Harris. Previously, Admiral Harris was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2018 to be the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, which he served until 2021. Prior to this, he served 40 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 2018. Over this illustrious career, Admiral Harris held many important positions, being the first Asian-American to hold four star rank in the U.S. Navy and commanded the U.S. Pacific Command, now known as the Indo-Pacific Command. U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing One, and Patrol Squadron 46. Earlier in his career, Admiral Harris served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, direct representative to the Secretary of State, where he was also designated as the U.S. Roadmap Monitor for the Oslo Accords. Admiral Harris also participated in Operations Attain Document, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn. Over the course of his career, he amassed over 4400 flight hours, including over 400 combat hours. In addition to being a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Admiral Harris holds a master's degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown's School of Foreign Service. Admiral Harris, it is a pleasure to welcome you. The floor is yours.
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Thanks, Dr. Hornung, for that generous introduction. Olivia acknowledged a few folks, including Japan's Consulate General to Los Angeles, the honorable Sone Kenko. Welcome back to the United States, sir, and the president of Japan House, Los Angeles, Kaifu Yuko. Thank you for sponsoring this Alliance series. I'll also give a shout out to my good friend Eric Nishizawa from Los Angeles, who's out there in cyberspace somewhere. My condolences to the people of Japan for the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. A tragic loss for Japan, and the United States, and indeed the world. Ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests, I have to tell you that I was a little apprehensive when Dr. Horning asked me to speak today. After all, I'm just a practitioner in The Art of War who dabbled and poorly, I might add, in diplomacy. I'm not a theorist, and I've never been accused of being a strategist. Even so, despite my trepidation, I'm glad I accepted the invitation to be with you today. After all, RAND is renowned for the rigor of its scientific inquiry, the impactful research it conducts into today's public policy challenges, and its nonpartisan ethos operating independent of political pressures.
So, ladies and gentlemen, this morning I have the matadors challenge ahead of me. I need to make a point here, and another point over here, and hope there's not a lot of bull in between. So let me start by saying point blank that I believe that we're at an inflection point in history. We're certainly not near anything resembling the end of history. Freedom, justice, and the rules-based system hang in the balance and the scale won't tip of its own accord simply because we want it to. Now, there's no better way for me to address this important think tank and this Year of the Tiger than to share with you my thoughts on the importance of the Indo-Pacific through the twin lenses of having commanded U.S. Pacific Command in my time in South Korea as the American ambassador. President Reagan once said that "we cannot play innocents abroad in a world that's not innocent." This statement is as true today as it was in 1914, throughout the Cold War, on 9/11, and on the 24th of February of this year, when Russia invaded Ukraine. The world remains a dangerous place. The unipolar moment following the Cold War is over. We find ourselves again in pure competition with adversaries who are developing and deploying cutting edge weaponry, including hypersonics. Ukraine is ablaze, Taiwan is under siege, and North Korea is building and testing nuclear weapons.
So, while our opportunities remain abundant, the path ahead is burdened by several considerable challenges, including an aggressive North Korea, a revisionist People's Republic of China, and now a revanchist Russia, and I'll speak to each of them briefly. First off, I'm sure you're all aware of Speaker Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last month and all the brouhaha that preceded it and China's truculent behavior that followed it. Now, let me be clear, I supported her visit before she went and doubly so after China threatened her, Taiwan, and the U.S. if she went. Last February, the Biden administration released its new Indo-Pacific strategy, the bold end state being nothing less than a free and open Indo-Pacific that's connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient. It recognizes that America's single greatest asymmetric threat is our network of security alliances and partnerships. In my opinion, this strategy underscores that when we work with allies and partners, "give and take" is preferred to "slash and burn." It calls for modernizing our bilateral defense treaties with Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand; advancing our major defense partnership with India; and building the defense capacity of partners in South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. And the textbook case in point is the almost 69-year U.S.-South Korea alliance, forged during a devastating conflict. It has stood the test of time. It's mind boggling to consider how much has changed in the world in general, Northeast Asia in particular, and the Korean Peninsula especially, since 1953.
Now, some changes have been for the better, such as South Korea's miraculous growth into an economic and cultural powerhouse, a vibrant democracy, and innovation nation leading by example in the battle against COVID-19. South Korea has one-sixth the population of the U.S. and 1/40 the number of COVID-19 deaths. They're doing something right over there. Other changes have been for the worse. Why is North Korea, far away in Northeast Asia, a challenge for the entire world? Well, the answer is simple. Kim Jong Un's missiles point in every direction. Today, North Korea stands out as the only nation in this century to test nuclear weapons. North Korea, toxic, despotic, erratic, is ruled with an iron fist by a brutal dictator, a man who values his pursuit of power over the prosperity and welfare of his own people. The North's unrelenting pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them and the North's unmitigated aggression toward the South should concern us all.
Folks, the U.S. stands firmly with South Korea and is fully committed to our alliance. This is important, because North Korea and the PRC will continuously test to resolve this alliance, to seek ways to weaken our strong ties in order to divide us. Now, I believe that KJU wants four things: sanctions relief, to keep his nukes, to split our lives, and to dominate the peninsula. Now, during last year's 8th Worker's Party Congress, he talked about strengthening North Korea's nuclear deterrent. The IAEA has expressed doubts about, and concerns rather, about the trajectory of North Korea's nuclear program. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that KJU views nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent against foreign intervention. And earlier this year, KJU declared his intent to boost his nuclear program, adding that he'd be willing to employ them broadly in wartime. And of course, just last week, unless all of the above doesn't convince you, he said unequivocally that he'd never give up its nuclear weapons program, and that North Korea as a nuclear weapon state is irreversible. That doesn't sound to me like he's going to be willing to get rid of them anytime soon.
So while we hope for diplomacy with North Korea to be successful, we must recognize that hope alone is not a course of action. The quest for a dialogue with the North must never be made at the expense of the ability to respond to threats from the North. So far this year, the North has launched over 30 missiles in increasing complexity, including hypersonics as well as ICBM and submarine-launched ballistic missile tests. This is no path towards peace on the peninsula. Dialogue and military readiness must go hand in hand. Idealism must be rooted in realism. We must not relax sanctions or reduce joint military exercises just to get North Korea to come to the negotiating table. This is a fool's errand. If exercises in sanctions are reduced as an outcome of negotiations, fine, that's why we have negotiations. We don't give them away, but there's no deterrence at all. It's unfortunate that North Korea did not embrace the opportunity presented by three U.S. and three South Korean presidential summits.
The U.S. continues to seek to transform relations between Washington and Pyongyang, lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and the complete denuclearization of North Korea, all of which were agreed upon by KJU and Singapore in 2018 and would set the conditions for a brighter future for the North Korean people. I also believe that North Korea missed a great opportunity in Hanoi and they likely won't get another chance like that. Now, I'm encouraged by the new administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol in Korea. In fact, having visited South Korea last month, let me say how encouraged I am by President Yoon's intent to make the U.S.-South Korea alliance the centerpiece of his foreign policy. I'm pleased that he places a primacy on defending South Korea against the threat from the North, which means a return to joint military exercises and an emphasis on combined readiness. I'm encouraged by his outreach to Tokyo and vice versa by Prime Minister Kishida. The stakes are too high to take any other course and I'm impressed by the first class foreign policy team he's assembled, including Foreign Minister Park Jin and Ambassador to Washington Cho Tae-yong. They're off to a great start, in my opinion.
Now to the elephant in the room, and that's the People's Republic of China, or the PRC. I was often asked when I served in Seoul whether South Korea was being forced to choose between its own security ally and its number one trading partner. This is a false narrative designed to sow doubt about the history and strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The U.S. made its choice in 1950 when we committed our troops to defend the South against the communist invasion from the North, as did 15 other sending states who sent troops to fight and die for South Korea. South Korea made this choice in 1953, when informally allied with the U.S. and aligned with the West. To be clear, the U.S. has partnered well with China on several important fronts. The last year, Beijing fundamentally disagreed on how to approach the current international order. The PRC doesn't keep its war promise to be with the British on Hong Kong to address human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, Tibetans, and others, to its attempts at commercial espionage in its quest to intimidate, isolate, and finally dominate Taiwan.
As I testified before the U.S. Senate when I was in uniform, I believe Beijing seeks hegemony not only in East Asia, but greater Asia and beyond. The PRC wants to set the rules for the region, indeed the world, which is why it's essential that free nations exercise vigilance. The U.S. has made it very clear that we reject foreign policy based on leverage and dominance and seek instead to base relationships on respect, equal footing, and fair exchange. The U.S. believes in partnership economics. We won't weaponize debt, striving instead to build environments and foster good, productive market economies. We encourage every country to work in its own interests to protect its own sovereignty. And we must work in our own enlightened self interest to develop our own reliable sources of critical materials, including rare earths, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals essential for weaponry independent of the PRC. Today, the PRC enjoys range and mass overwatch in certain weapons areas. Folks, we find ourselves sailing into rocks and shoals, to use a nautical analogy, and we must right this sinking ship. Now, I note that the Biden administration's fundamental understanding of the PRC is consistent with its predecessors.
Consider this, Secretary Blinken testified that the previous administration's tougher approach is right, that what's happening in Xinjiang is genocide, and the democracy is being trampled in Hong Kong. Secretary of Defense Austin testified that he's focused on the pacing threat of the PRC and he promised strong support for Taiwan. Look, Taiwan is democratic, an idea factory, an imagination nation, and a global force for good. I've called for ending the 50-year U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity in favor of strategic clarity. The new Indo-Pacific strategy specifically supports an environment in which Taiwan's future is determined peacefully by the Taiwanese. My successor at Indo-Pacific Command testified before Congress last year that the PRC could invade Taiwan in six years, that's 2027. We ignore Admiral Davidson's warning at our peril. Now, let me spend a few minutes on Russia and Ukraine by first acknowledging the human tragedy that is being perpetuated by Russia.
As Garry Kasparov recently said, Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine on an industrial scale. Europe is experiencing a refugee crisis, the likes of which haven't been seen since World War II, and Russia is weaponizing this crisis. So, why does Ukraine matter? Well, consider that Ukraine is a democracy and the second largest country in Europe after Russia. Consider that Ukraine sent forces to Afghanistan in support of NATO, even though it isn't in NATO. Consider that Ukraine sent troops to Iraq where they fought and died for coalition objectives. And consider that the United States, before the pandemic, conducted almost $4 billion in two-way trade in goods and services with Ukraine. And remember, in 1994, Kyiv voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons at the behest of the West, a global force for good, indeed. So, why did Russia invade Ukraine at all? Well, in two words, Vladimir Putin. Maya Angelou once said that when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Folks, time and again, Putin has shown us who he is and shame on us if we fail to believe it. In my opinion, he seeks to rebuild the former Soviet Union, not under communism, but to its old borders. Us geopolitical geeks have a term for this, its revanchism.
So Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova and of course, Ukraine and others are at risk. The Baltics, too, but they're part of NATO now, so that's a different nut for Putin to crack. And why now? Well, in my opinion, opportunism. Putin saw the West as weak and distracted by the pandemic. He saw America's divisions play out in Washington and he watched our endgame in Afghanistan. But he miscalculated, and stunningly so. He underestimated Ukraine's resolve. He might not believe that Ukraine is independent, but the Ukrainians sure do, and they're willing to fight and die for their country. He underestimated the former comedian and everyman who became the president of Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has risen to his office in truly Churchillian fashion. He underestimated the resolve of the international community to break through his economic backbone, and they may never recover. He underestimated NATO's resolve, especially Germans, and he underestimated America's resolve to come together to support Ukraine with our treasury, our influence, and our bipartisan political determination.
On the other hand, Putin overestimated his own strategy, a fantasy of his own making that Russia could blitzkrieg Ukraine in 15 days. It's now been over six months. He overestimated the strength of the Russian army. What we're seeing play out on the battlefield are poorly trained troops led by some very bad generals. And I'll just note for the record that there's nothing generals like better than to criticize generals. Without adequate enabling logistics, and no understanding of command, it was German General Heinz Guderian, the architect of blitzkrieg himself, who famously said that "logistics is the ball and chain armored warfare." And it appears to me, the Russian army can't distinguish combined arms from a rock and roll band. Numbers are uncertain at best, but I've seen reporting that in six months of hard fighting, Russia has lost as many as 70,000 troops; hundreds, if not thousands of tanks and armored fighting vehicles; and of course, as many as 12 general officers. Ukraine's recent counter offensive has produced remarkable results. And if Putin had studied at RAND, he'd know strategy lesson one: don't lose your flagship. This is not Hungary, 1956, or Czechoslovakia, 1968; this is Finland, 1939.
Russia's actions strengthened and unified, not weakened and divided, NATO, the EU, and the UN as well as brought together a divided Washington. As the Icelandic foreign minister recently said earlier this year, "thank God we're part of NATO." And now Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO, the exact opposite of what Putin believed would happen. In other words, he failed spectacularly, notwithstanding a certain inevitability, simply because of the mess of the Russian military. Stalin apocryphally said, and I say apocryphally because he didn't really say it, "quantity has a quality all its own." Again, Finland, but this time 1940. But don't be like Putin and underestimate the resolve of the Ukrainians and never bet against the United States. George Shultz once said he walks in the middle of the road, gets hit from both sides. I'm proud that the U.S. has chosen sides on Ukraine.
So far, the U.S. has provided billions in aid to Ukraine, including key military hardware, such as Stinger anti-air and Javelin anti-tank missiles, switchblade drones, howitzers, and now helicopters. Even so, there's more juice in that orange. As SecDef Austin has said, "we must move at the speed of war to help Ukraine," even as our own industrial base finds itself hard-pressed to backfill what we've already given to Kyiv. Ladies and gentlemen, do you realize we haven't produced Stingers in this country in over 18 years? Finally, we must continue to expose Putin's war crimes to international audiences, including audiences in Russia. Now, none of this is easy. But if we don't act with urgency, we'll find the outcomes more dire and the options more dangerous. Of course, Russia gets a vote, and if Putin votes for tactical nukes, chem bioweapons, attacks against NATO countries, cyber attacks on America's critical infrastructure, then all bets are off. Even Putin isn't this crazy, I hope. So, this brings me to the issue of Ukraine and the implications for Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region.
Hard to say where Beijing will end, but Xi Jinping is no fool. He craves stability in the international order so that he has time to shape that order to his favor. Russia's invasion throws a giant monkey wrench into Xi's plans. The very things that he seeks to weaken: the West, the U.S., the UN, our alliances with Japan, South Korea and Australia, are coming together with Ukraine as a catalyst. While supportive of Russia, I believe the PRC is far from all-in on Russia. You can be assured, however, that the Xi Jinping is watching Ukraine closely and learning. He's learning that control of the Internet is vital and I believe he's wondering. He's wondering if his army is as bad as Russia's appears to be, if his generals are as inept as Russia's appear to be, if his navy is as vulnerable as the Black Sea fleet appears to be, and is wondering if he can first replicate for himself, then overcome the amazing American logistics machine. And lest we forget, as Xi Jinping would probably like us to forget, Xi Jinping himself, and then-Ukrainian-President Yanukovych inked a bilateral treaty in 2013 whereby the PRC pledged to provide Ukraine with a nuclear security guarantee whenever Ukraine faced an invasion involving nuclear weapons, or even the threat of nuclear weapons. And as most of you know, for years I've sharply criticized the PRC for its lack of adherence to international rules and norms, even those rule sets that it has signed on.
So, here's an opportunity to take the measure of the PRC and Xi Jinping and prove me wrong. Folks, I was going to spend some time on Japan, the quad, and the new defense to raise with Australia and the United Kingdom, but I'll save that for the Q&A session. Instead, let me address the "what to do." After all, RAND is as much about doing as about thinking. Ladies and gentlemen, diplomacy and diplomats matter. I, for one, am glad the U.S. ambassador John Sullivan, stayed at post in Moscow, bridging the Trump and Biden administrations through last week, and my condolences for the loss of his wife. W e must keep the diplomatic lines of communication open with Russia now more than ever, and I hope for a speedy nomination-to-confirmation process for our new ambassador, whoever that is. I'm dismayed that the U.S. Ambassador for Ukraine was gapped for over three years, finally filled only last May. I'm disappointed that Australia had to wait 18 months for Caroline Kennedy to get to Canberra and I'm disappointed that it took the U.S. 18 months to get an ambassador at post in Seoul after I left. Now, Philip Goldberg in Seoul is a fabulous diplomat, South Korea traded up for sure. But they should not have had to wait 18 months for their only treaty ally to send an ambassador to Seoul.
Now, in the Quad, we still don't have an ambassador confirmed for India. Anyone wonder why India hasn't been tougher on Russia? And it took us over five years, you heard that right, five years to finally get an ambassador to ASEAN and just shy of five years for Singapore. Now, this is on us, the United States, and it's a manifestation of the divided political landscape in Washington. Last November, in New York City, I called it legislative malpractice. But, to be fair to the U.S. Senate, you can't blame them if the White House doesn't nominate people in a timely manner. We can do better than this, in fact, we must. Diplomacy is hard work. Permission granted to work hard. This is juice that's worth the squeeze. So, ladies and gentlemen, I've talked to you long. I was going to address Japan, the Quad, and AUKUS, but I think I'll stop here and save them for the Q&A session. So let me wrap this up with three thoughts. First, we live in an interconnected world of shared spaces: the oceans, outer space, and now cyberspace. These spaces enable the free flow of goods, services, and ideas. They are the connective tissue that binds together the global economy and, more importantly, a civil society. Access to these thoroughfares is at risk in the 21st century.
Second, the U.S. made two flawed geopolitical assumptions last century. One, over time, we assumed that the PRC would morph into something like a global force for good,and two, that Russia would no longer threaten its neighbors of the West. Today, the Russian bear is afoot and we find ourselves shooting well behind the Peking duck. We must step up our game or we'll find ourselves outgunned, literally and figuratively. And thirdly, America's strength depends on the synergy between the brave women and men who wear the colors of our nation and informed citizens, patriots like the women and men of RAND who are aware of the challenges, opportunities and dangers that we face around the world. President Eisenhower once noted that only alert and knowledgeable citizens can ensure the responsible use of power so that security and liberty can prosper together. The RAND family epitomizes Ike's alert and knowledgeable citizenry. You have what I call "skin in the game." So I truly thank you for what you do on a daily basis to help ensure the viability of the U.S. military and defense establishment to keep America secure and strong. So thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Thank you, Admiral Harris. That was fantastic. And you really provided a tour de force there of going through the region, looking at the challenges and tying things together between the European and Indo-Pacific theaters. Let me begin by, you went over a little bit about what Xi Jinping is possibly learning from this invasion and things, what to do for the United States. There are also a host of opinions and commentary about what the lessons of Indo-Pacific nations can draw from Russia's invasion. What do you think is the most important lesson that regional countries in the Indo-Pacific can draw from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine's response? And is there a lesson that you don't feel is being recognized as much it should?
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Yeah, it's an important question. I don't know that there are lessons that aren't being recognized as much as they should. But I do think that the nations in the Pacific region, and we're talking the whole gamut of of capability, economics, economic strength, and all of that, so it's certainly not one-size-fits-all, it's never been one-size fits-all, and one size doesn't fit all in this case for sure. But I think that some of the fundamental lessons include what I talked about, that we took the wrong lessons from the end of the Cold War with regard to Russia and we had a misplaced sense of hope about the PRC from the 1970s forward. And I think the countries now are looking, or they should look, at their relationships with Russia and the PRC. And the PRC is far more influential and impactful in the Indo-Pacific than Russia is, even though Russia has a huge Indo-Pacific-facing coastline and major nuclear capable bases in the eastern Russian area. But the lesson that you can take from the PRC is the lesson I believe that Sri Lanka is taking now, that when you mortgage your country's future, your country's economic future, on something like the Belt and Road Initiative, that it is not going to end well for you, that you've got to go into those deals eyes wide open.
Now, there's nothing wrong with trading with the PRC. I mean, they are a huge trading partner for the United States. They're South Korea's number one trading partner, in fact, they're the number one trading partner for a lot of countries in the region, including our friends, allies, and partners. But, I think the lesson is that you have to go into this relationship with the PRC carefully and understand that their goals are not altruistic. Their goals are to further strengthen and make more powerful, the People's Republic of China. And if you go into those deals with that view in mind, then I think that the countries would be better off. Of course, now in 2022, a lot of countries are looking at this in hindsight, but the time to start is now if they haven't started already.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
So, along that that same line of thinking and giving you an opportunity to address something that you referenced in your remarks, where do you see the Quad and AUKUS fitting in this framework where countries now have to prepare, think more about the future, and think about how they can address possible Chinese challenges so that we don't see a repeat happening in the Indo-Pacific, like what's happening in Europe?
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Yeah, well so let me talk first about the Quad, then I'll talk about AUKUS. So, the Quad, for any viewers out there that don't know what it is, that's the informal grouping of like-minded democracies in the Indo-Pacific region and Quad is four countries, right? It's the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. I'm a big fan of the quad, I call it for its resurgence back as early as 2016 when I spoke at the inaugural Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. National security advisor Jake Sullivan has called it the foundation upon which to build a substantial U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific region, so, it's really important. And I've recently begun calling for the establishment of a Quad secretariat based somewhere in the region. I've gotten pushback from that from a lot of areas, including from my friends in Australia, that it's too early for that. But I think it's essential that we establish some kind of a formal office somewhere in the region—not in the U.S., it's important that, in my opinion, it be in the region someplace—to get at the issues of what issues to take off. right? I mean, right after President Biden took office, he had a a virtual Quad leader summit, which is which is hard to arrange and schedule for leaders to come together virtually or in person, and they were able to pull that off. And the first issue they took on was COVID vaccine distribution in the Indo-Pacific.
So, the Quad is not a military-centric relationship and it's not an alliance, or a treaty, or a NATO-like pact by any stretch, but it is important. And so I think the Quad secretariat could take on things like: what issues should the Quad look at? I also think the the secretary could begin to take on the issue of how new members can join the Quad. You know, I was often asked when I was in South Korea: should South Korea join the Quad? And my response to that is, look, in American college football, the Big Ten has 14 teams and the Big 12 has ten teams. So there's nothing that says the Quad has to be limited to four teams. So, we ought to be open to new countries becoming members of the Quad. You know, but some of the key tenets are that they're democracies, they support each other and they work with each other well and the like. And I believe that it's essential that we understand that, in my opinion, I understand that the Quad is about positioning countries against the threat from the PRC, the economic threat from the PRC. And that's important. So that's the Quad.
AUKUS, on the other hand, the Australia-UK-U.S. arrangement is a defense pact. And I for one, I'm all for it, I'm excited by it, and I'm thrilled about the opportunity that we'll soon see an Australian nuclear submarine underway somewhere in the Indo-Pacific. I don't think it'll take decades to get to this, as some have said. If the three countries involved put our hearts, minds, and resources together, we put a man on the moon in eight years and we develop a COVID vaccine one year. We can do this if we get after it.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
So, understanding the Quad and the AUKUS, these are strategic gatherings and they have more of a long term flavor to them. When we look at the region Indo-Pacific today, we see that many U.S. allies and partners—as well as countries that are not U.S. allies and partners—that they've joined in different ways in condemning Moscow's actions in Ukraine. Having been commander of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region and later serving as ambassador to the region. When you look at the regional responses, are there any countries whose response surprised you, either positively or negatively?
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Yeah, I was surprised by India's waffling on the issue. I understand it, I mean, there's a couple of things driving it, right? I mean, most of India's military hardware is Soviet-derived and Russian-acquired, right? So, and that's the nature of their military over the course of the Cold War and where they invested, and it's on us part of the time because we wouldn't provide or sell high-end military equipment to India. We have CAATSA, that law that was passed which I think hurts our relationship with India. CAATSA is Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and it essentially says if you trade with Russia, then we're going to not trade with you or we're going to impact or limit our trade with you and the kinds of trade that we can do with you. So that hurts us, and we have to understand that 70% of Indian military hardware comes from Russia, and you can't expect them to go cold turkey overnight simply because of an American law. And so, we, in some respects are our own worst enemy in that regard.
But at the end of the day, I was surprised by India's unwillingness to criticize Russia as strongly as Russia should be criticized for its blatant attack on a sovereign and independent Ukraine. Now, part of that also is—and I touched on it in my remarks—we don't have an ambassador to India. You know, we only just now got an ambassador to Ukraine after three years, but we don't have an ambassador to India. Ken Juster left in January, just as I left Seoul in January of 2021, and we still don't have an ambassador confirmed, branded. So, you know, that's on us and that's on this legislative malpractice thing I talked about. You know, this is on the nomination, the confirmation process. So, we shouldn't be surprised that India is not speaking out more forcefully against Russia. You know, we don't have an ambassador, we only got an ambassador to the ASEAN after five years, even though we've been telling our ASEAN partners that they matter, they're important, and all of that. You know, we only got an ambassador to Singapore after almost five years and Singapore is an amazing partner. You know, we have our ships and submarines visit there, we have all that stuff going on in Singapore. It's a key strategic partner and we didn't have an ambassador there for almost five years, so that's on us. And and we have to do better or else, you know, we're continue to wallow in confusing and difficult times.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Let me ask you one more question before turning it open to some of the audience questions that I've received. When we look at the Western responses to Russia's war and we think about how U.S. and its allies and partners could potentially respond to a similar situation in the Indo-Pacific. Which responses do you think offer the U.S. a template to build upon for assembling coalitions, developing responses, and trying to deter similar acts of coercion against smaller countries? In other words, are there any actions that are just unique to Russia, or do you think that the way that the U.S. has gone around building its coalition, do you think that's broadly applicable to would-be aggressors in the Indo-Pacific as well?
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Yeah, I think it is broadly applicable, but every act of aggression by one country onto another engenders a different kind of coalition of the willing, if you will. So, you know, there's no pure template that you can translate from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait back in '91 or back in '90, rather, lending itself to Desert Storm in '91 to Afghanistan and the Taliban's action against the United States, leading itself to another coalition which included NATO. But there were many countries that were involved in that—South Korea, Japan—that were not part of NATO. And then now, you have the Russian invasion of a sovereign, independent Ukraine.
So every every act of international aggression, engenders a different kind of international response, and so there's no one template. I think there are some some some lessons here, and one of those lessons is the necessity to be ready and the necessity, in my opinion, for free, independent, and democratic nations to step up to the plate and be willing to condemn acts of aggression by one country against another. And we have a mixed record of that across the Cold War and into the 21st century. But the fundamental premise that countries are sovereign and should not be invaded by other countries, I think, holds, and that's an important thing to consider.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Okay, I have a few questions here from the audience. Two of them are similar, so I'm going to lump them together and they basically have to do with the differences in the Russian invasion of Ukraine being a land invasion, whereas any possible invasion of Taiwan from Beijing would be oversea or over air. And the questions here being what will be the challenges logistically, what are the major logistic challenges in trying to respond to those? And do you think that there's something that Xi Jinping might be learning a different lesson based on what it sees happening with Russia's land invasion not going well?
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
So, yeah, I mean, they're fundamentally different in the sense that as as your questioners correctly noted, Ukraine being a land invasion. And even so, it's not going well for Russia. You know, I talk in my remarks about Heinz Guderian, the father of blitzkrieg, and he said that "logistics is the ball of chain of armored warfare." And so here here you've got logistics being the ball and chain of armored warfare and the country next door. Right. I mean, in a land country next door with modern highways and all that, you ought to be able to drive next door, and Russia is having enormous challenges with that and it's not going well for them. Translate this to Taiwan, you can't drive your tanks from the mainland to Taiwan. You've got to get them there over 100 miles of open ocean, that is a significant logistics challenge. You can only get them there by boats, ships. And we saw how difficult the invasion of Normandy was and that one, you could see that coastline from the UK and and we saw how challenging Okinawa was.
I mean, this is not something that you can plan out on the back of a napkin. It's a serious logistics challenge to travel over a body of water stretching 100 miles to mass an invasion that can have an impact on land. And so there are any number of counters to that that Taiwan can put into place, and our obligation under the U.S. law, the Taiwan Relations Act, is to help them with that, is to help them buy the right kinds of equipment, to delay that and to offset that, to counter that. And then you can do an air thing, but as I said in my remarks, Xi Jinping is clearly looking at the amazing American logistics machine and how incredible that really is. I mean, you know, we can have a separate discussion in some other venue about the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether that was a failure or not, I happen to think it was a failure. But that said, you cannot debate the effectiveness of the U.S. logistics machine to put in place in a matter of weeks with what we did in the Berlin airlift. To get out of Afghanistan, well over 100,000 people, in incredibly short order through air power. And when you look at that and then you you consider how, given our logistics hubs in the Western Pacific and the western part of the United States and all that—Hawaii, Guam, and on and on—that that's an incredible capability that the U.S. has and it's a capability that a country like the PRC needs if they're going to cross that 100 miles of open ocean in order to invade a country like Taiwan.
So, that's important. I think back to your earlier question and in my comments about strategic ambiguity, where we errored, made a mistake in Ukraine. In my opinion, was we declared early before Russia invaded Ukraine, we had a declaratory policy of no U.S. troops in Ukraine. We could have left that door open, you know? Not now, maybe later, you know, we made a declaratory policy of no U.S. troops in Ukraine, and Russia took advantage of that. That's why I think the idea of strategic clarity is so important in the Taiwan case. I mean, look, the PRC has been strategically clear on its intent with regard to Taiwan for decades. And we are trying to be ambiguous about this, but we ought to be clear as well.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
So let me follow up with a second question from the audience here about the partnership or the relationship between China and Russia. Do you see that this relationship is strengthening post- Ukraine? Do you think that it's weakening? And how do you think that's going to affect the regional security environment in the Indo-Pacific?
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Yeah. So I don't think that, and this is Cold War–me speaking, that the Soviet Union and the PRC, now Russia and China, are natural bedfellows. They're not naturally allies. They share a thousand-mile plus land border and that's that's always a challenge. And, you know, countries like Mongolia, they get literally squeezed between these two behemoths. So they're not natural allies, but, conflict and and all of that drives people to seek allies in strange quarters. So I think that the relationship between the PRC and Russia is strengthening because of Ukraine and their response not only from the United States, but the response from the West. The response from South Korea, from Japan, from Australia, from the UK, from all of NATO, from Germany, and what's happening there is driving Russia to buy military hardware from North Korea.
I mean, so this sort of thing is happening. I tell my South Korean friends that we should they should never forget that North Korea's only treaty ally, and vice versa, is the PRC. So when they face these challenges and they worry from the PRC and they make decisions based on their relationship with the PRC, they ought to completely understand that North Korea is the country it is because it's enabled by the PRC. And so, politics and conflict bring people together that would not normally, I think, naturally come together. And that's that's what I think we're seeing with regard to the PRC and Russia.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
And then finally, I know we have about 5 minutes left of your time, sir. You mentioned in your remarks about Putin underestimating the resolve of Ukrainians to fight and overestimating Russia's own capacity to succeed there. When you look at those lessons from Ukraine and think about it in the context of the Indo-Pacific, one of our audience members asked about how much weight, which should we think about war fighting experience in the will to fight when we're thinking about both PLA military as well as any militant armed force in the region, including Taiwan, and facing off against the PLA in a potential conflict in Burma.
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
So it's a fundamental military question, right? I mean, experience in combat, especially in the 21st century with large formations and 21st century modern hardware. So, the PRC hasn't hasn't thought of a fight since 1979 where they had their asses handed to them by Vietnam. So they're not tested. No one who served in combat for the PRC against Vietnam is in uniform today, or if there are, there are only just, you know, a handful, so that's a significant issue. They've had some skirmishes with India along the northern frontier, but that doesn't count, so they haven't been tested. You know, their response to Speaker Pelosi's visit to Taiwan was to rally all the forces around Taiwan and they're saying "well, we learned more from that than they did." So now we know a lot more about Chinese strategy and tactics, communications capabilities, and all of that than I think that that they intended. So, experience matters.
Ukraine has been at war, they had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also had been trained by NATO for a decade after 2008 or so, after 2014, rather, heavily trained by NATO forces, by U.S. Special Operations forces. So they are a trained and capable military that's being equipped by the West, so that's important. They also used Russian equipment and now they get to use a lot more now that they've captured a lot of Russian equipment. So, you know, they are learning and they are improving and it's working for them with the help of the West. With regard to Taiwan, they haven't been at war either, as the PRC hasn't really, truly been in heavy combat. But Taiwan, hopefully, will be enabled and helped by the West just as Ukrainians, and so that goes a long way. Their military, in my opinion, is capable, the Taiwanese military is capable, and they are provided modern equipment from the U.S. through the Taiwan Relations Act. I would hope that other countries would also supply military hardware and assistance to Taiwan. This is not gratis. Taiwan is buying this because they are a modern economy that can afford it, so they're paying for all this. But, we ought to be willing to sell it to them and help them as we move forward.
So the lesson is, the lessons of Ukraine are directly, not directly, but they are translatable to Taiwan. The military challenge from the PRC is far more difficult today in 2022 than the military challenge that Russia faced in invading Ukraine and that's not going well for Russia. The resolve of the Ukrainian people surprised not only Russia, but surprised us as well. So that's on us and on our intelligence capability of understanding our friends, allies, and partners. I think we got it wrong with regard to the Ukrainian resolve to fight. I know Russia did, but I think we did also. We got it wrong with regard to the willingness, turns out the unwillingness, of the Afghan National Army to defend Afghanistan. We got it wrong with regard to the strength of the Taliban to come together in short order last year. And so we need to make sure that we understand the resolve, not only of our adversaries, but also our friends, allies, and partners. And so, I hope that that we're working on that with regard to Taiwan, but I have no doubts about Taiwan's willingness to fight and die for their country. So, we'll have to see how this plays out over time.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Well, Admiral Harris, I want to thank you very much. Having the opportunity to hear your thoughts and pick your brain over the last 45, 50 minutes has been a wonderful experience. And if we were in person, I'm sure right now you hear a very loud round of applause. But let me just provide you my personal thanks and be well. Thank you so much, sir.
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Yeah. Dr. Hornung thank you to you and your audience, and to be a part of RAND.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Thank you, sir.
Video 2 The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific Region
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. It's really my pleasure to bring you what is now the ninth iteration of RAND's U.S.-Japan Alliance Conference series. Over the years, we have examined issues as diverse as Japan's relations with Europe and Japan's relations with South Korea, Japan's development of strike capabilities of amphibious capabilities, how the alliance is responding to a rising China, perspectives on the Quad in a free and open Indo-Pacific, and issues pertaining to cyber and 5G communication. As this brief snapshot of some of the past topics illustrate, this series has highlighted some of the most pressing issues facing the alliance. And to discuss them over the years, we've been fortunate to bring together a stellar team of experts to provide insight into the challenges and opportunities for the alliance. Today will be no different, but of course, none of this would be possible without RAND's ongoing relationship with Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan's consulate general in Los Angeles, and, of course, the Japan House, Los Angeles.
Before turning to the proceedings, I'd be remiss to not express my personal gratitude to my former colleague, Dr. Scott Harold, who helped bring this series to life nine years ago and saw it through different iterations. Scott, if you're watching, thank you. Now, today we gather to talk about the alliance in the age of strategic competition, with today's focus looking at the impact of the war in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific region. Toward that end, we've assembled some of the brightest minds on the topic. But before we turn to them, it is my pleasure to turn the floor over to our partners for a few comments.
Our first speaker is Consul General Sone Kenko. Consul General Sone has just arrived in his post earlier this month and so we at RAND are very happy to be introducing him to the broader audience here in the United States. Consul General Sone has an impressive background in the Foreign Ministry, which he entered in 1989. Over the years, he has not only held numerous overseas positions in India, Switzerland and two stints at the embassy in Washington, D.C., he has also held numerous posts in Tokyo, including in the North American Affairs Bureau, the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and the Economic Affairs Bureau. His immediate postings prior to joining us here in the United States were that of assistant minister, director general for cultural affairs, held concurrently with being ambassador in charge of sport and Bhutto. Consul General Sone, it's a pleasure to welcome you, and the floor is yours.
Thank you very much. Hello to conference organizers, today's speakers, and all who are watching online. It is my great pleasure to join you for U.S.-Japan Alliance Conference Series Webinar: The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific Region, co-hosted by RAND Cooperation. My name is Sone Kenko, I became the new consul general of Japan in Los Angeles on September 1st, about two weeks ago, and back in June 2016, when I was director of Office of Global Communication of the Prime Minister's Office of Japan, I visited Los Angeles and had the opportunity to meet with the experts at the RAND Corporation. So I'm very much grateful to RAND and the U.S.-Japan Alliance Conference series for its ongoing efforts to promote dialogue that helps to deepen understanding about important topics related to Japan. First, I'd like to acknowledge that today's keynote speaker, Ambassador Harry B. Harris Jr. and the other panelists, and I was told that Mr. Taisuke Abiru, a senior research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, is joining us live from Japan despite the time difference, so I thank him for doing so.
Turning to today's conference topic, I believe it's very timely because of the potential global implications. It has been over six months since Russia's aggression against Ukraine, a violent act that poses a threat to the rule-based international order established in the wake of the war of...in the 20th century. Russian aggression has created upheaval not only in Ukraine, but it also causes turmoil for energy markets and the global food supply, resulting in economic uncertainty around the world. And today, we shift our focus to the Indo-Pacific region, which also faces mounting challenges to the rule-based international order. Underscoring the regional importance all the more for the ongoing crisis in Europe. This past May, Japanese prime minister Kishida Fumio,under U.S. President Joe Biden, issued a joint leaders statement reaffirming the Indo-Pacific region's vital importance to global peace, security, and prosperity. As such, exploring the lessons learned from the war in Ukraine and its impacts on the Indo-Pacific region is of significant interest for both international politics and the global economy.
So today's conference is of importance and relevance in both China and the United States because our nation's bilateral alliance is the cornerstone of advancing free and open Indo-Pacific. I look forward to the presentation by Ambassador Harris with his profound knowledge and experience, especially as a former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, now called the U.S.-Indo Pacific Command, and the following discussion by the experts here today, which will help us all better understand the complex situation and its implications. I thank you very much.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Thank you, Consul General Sone. Our next speaker will be president of Japan House Los Angeles, Kaifu Yuko. President Kaifu started her career at Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had assignments that included the Embassy of Japan in Canada, the consulate general in Los Angeles, and various departments in Tokyo. After leaving government service, President Kaifu worked at the Japanese-American National Museum as the Vice President and later at MUFG Union Bank as a managing director of corporate communications. She joined Japan House Los Angeles in January 2016 to start up the organization. It is my pleasure to welcome President Kaifu who will be providing remarks via video.
Hello, everyone, thank you for joining today's special webinar: The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the Indo-Pacific Region. Japan House Los Angeles is pleased to copresent today's program with RAND Corporation. I wish to thank Dr. Jeffrey Hornung and his colleagues at RAND Corporation who make today's program possible. We're particularly privileged to have the participation of Admiral Harry Harris as the keynote speaker and distinguished presenters who are experts in this serious and critically important security issue. Japan House Los Angeles is a public diplomacy institute located in Hollywood and we showcase various aspects of Japan, ranging from art and culture to science and technology, entertainment, food, and more.
Public policy programs like the one that we're presenting today are also an important part of our activities. By collaborating with a top notch think tank like RAND Corporation, we're able to present our viewers with accurate analysis and insightful perspectives on issues that have multiple implications and ramifications that affect this part of the world and the security alliance between Japan and the United States. I'm looking forward to hearing the views of the scholars and policymakers of both countries. Please enjoy the program.
Thank you, President Kaifu. Thank you both, Consul General Sone and President Kaifu, for those opening remarks. But I'm going to start today with Abiru Taisuke who is a senior research fellow in the Security Studies Program at SASAKAWA Peace Foundation in Tokyo. Abiru's expertise is in Russian diplomacy and security strategy, as well as Eurasian politics. Previously, he worked at the Moscow office of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Tokyo Foundation. So really, the kind of brain that we want to pick today to learn more about Japan's position on these issues. He does hold an MA from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, as well as a bachelor's in political science from Waseda University in Tokyo. Abiru, the floor is yours.
Thank you, Jeffrey, and it's my great honor to speak at this very important event organized by the RAND Corporation. As Jeffrey kindly introduced me, my expertise is on Russian affairs, Russian foreign policy and security policy, and also Japan-Russia relations. So, I would like to talk about this today's topic from the angle of a Japanese expert on Russian affairs. You know, honestly speaking, I didn't think that President Putin made such a huge strategic mistake in Ukraine. I had very frequent communication with Russian experts on foreign affairs in Moscow, lots of experts, and most of them also didn't think that Putin would start a full-scale military operation toward Ukraine simply because that kind of military operation doesn't benefit strategic interest that's clearly contradictory towards Russia's strategic interest. So, most of them thought that Putin wouldn't do that, but Putin did. I think that was a huge strategic mistake made by President Putin.
Anyway, it is no doubt that from Japan's point of view, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is nothing but an infringement of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. And it's clearly a violation of the international law. The killing of a large number of innocent civilians by the Russian forces in Ukraine is a grave breach of the international humanitarian law, it must be said that this is a war crime. Since February 24th of this year, when Russia launched the military invasion of Ukraine, Japan has provided Ukraine assistance packages that includes emergency humanitarian assistance of $300 million U.S. dollars and nonlethal weapons such as drones, bulletproof vests, helmets...uniform, tents, cameras, hygiene products, emergency rations... lighting devices, medical supplies, and so on. And the Kishida administration, along with other G7 countries, has also imposed unprecedented levels of economic sanctions against Russia, including President Putin himself. Needless to say, this decision has a big impact on Japan-Russia bilateral relations. In response to Japan's imposing sanctions, the Putin administration included Japan on a list of unfriendly countries and announced the suspension of both bilateral peace treaty negotiations which successive Japanese governments had to work hard on. Given that, the Abe administration imposed only symbolic sanctions against Russia in the Ukraine crisis of 2014. It Is fair to say that the decision of the Kishida administration this time is a major shift in Japan's longstanding policy toward Russia.
There are two reasons why the Abe administration only imposed nominal sanction towards Russia in the Ukraine crisis of 2014. Obviously, the main reason was that the Abe administration wanted to sign a peace treaty with Russia, so they wanted to continue the negotiations that were about to be enforced at that time. But there was another reason, I think. The Abe administration wanted to prevent Russia, which has been under severe economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe since 2014, from getting too close to China. Considering the more and more severe strategic environment around Japan facing two potential threats, China and North Korea, it would be better for Japan to maintain a good and hopefully a better relationship with Russia as much as possible.
Moreover, we should avoid a situation in which China and Russia strategically cross. If that was the case, why did the Kishida administration reversed Japan's policy towards Russia from the Abe administration. I would point out at least three reasons behind this decision. First, the magnitude of the seriousness of what happened in Ukraine this time was totally different from that of 2014. Moreover, the peace treaty negotiation had already been installed since the end of the Abe administration. Therefore, the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, found it easier than former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make this decision in favor of the cooperation with the G7 countries. But still, Japan's concern across China-Russia relations remains. At this time, I think Japan has two strategic choices. One is Japan will continue the Abe administration policy of strategic engagement with Russia in order to avoid a cross relationship between Russia and China.
Another choice is, considering the similarity between the Ukraine issue for Russia, and the Taiwan issue for China, Japan will impose sanctions against Russia and prevent Russia from winning in Ukraine in order to ensure that China will not repeat Russia's mistake to unilaterally change the status quo by force against Ukraine. And obviously, the Kishida administration had chosen the right amount. As a result of that, there is no doubt that Russia will become increasingly dependent on China politically and economically. Actually, in my view, before February 24th of this year, Russia tried to maintain the strategic autonomy from China as a major supplier of energy and weapons in the Pacific region. In terms of energy, Russia tried to diversify the market not only from China, but also to Japan, South Korea and so on. In terms of weapons, Russia is the major supplier, not only for China, but also for India and Vietnam, which does not have an easy relationship with China.
But after the February use of force, I'm sure that it is highly likely that Russia's dependence on China will increase and Russia-China relations will change in favor of China. So, after the end of this war in Ukraine, we could face a much weaker Russia compared with China. And the weaker Russia will be depending on China much more than before. And I think Japan and the United States should follow this trend and analyze what kind of strategic implication and security implication could have in this region. I think, at least from Japan's point of view, we have now the two front of the potential threat. One Is from China and another is North Korea. But if Russia becomes more hostile to Japan after the end of this war, Japan could face another potential threat in this region. So, this development will have a huge impact on the security environment in this region. I think I'll stop here.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
I really liked how you framed the difference between the Abe administration's responses in 2014 to the Kishida administration's unprecedented level of sanctions, as you called it. I will have questions for you, but we'll get to those questions after we finish all the presentations. So let me turn next to my colleague, Dara Massicote, who is a senior policy researcher with us at the RAND Corporation. Her work focuses on defense and security issues in Russia and Eurasia, specializing in Russian military strategy, combat operations, and escalation dynamics, and believe me, she has been very busy over the past few months.
Before joining RAND, Ms. Massicote served as a senior analyst for Russian military capabilities at the Department of Defense. She received her M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval Naval War College's College of Naval Command and Staff. She also holds two B.A.'s from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one that focuses on Russian language and literature, and the other in peace, war, and defense. I'm really looking forward to Dara, a great colleague, and I'm looking forward to her remarks today. Dara, please go ahead, the floor is yours.
Thank you so much, Jeffrey. Thank you for having me. I spend most of my time lately thinking about the war in Ukraine at a very tactical level. So I'm excited to have the opportunity to step back and look at the other side of Russia's borders and look out at the Pacific side of the equation. So I know I am not a specialist in Russia's relationship with the Indo-Pacific, but I would like to share what I can about what Russia is learning about itself, about what the United States is learning about itself from its support to Ukraine, and what does this mean going forward for Russia? And more specifically, what does it mean for Russia as an actor in the Indo-Pacific? So, I'm going to discuss the following questions and just provide some thoughts and I'll be happy to take more specific questions in the Q&A. I'm going to discuss, in broad terms, how the United States is supporting Ukraine and how does it view the war itself? What are the United States' interest in stopping Russian aggression in Ukraine and how would this impact how they do things in the Indo-Pacific moving forward? What lessons are we learning? What have been our takeaways from our own support, the limits of our own support, the effectiveness of our own support, and the implications internationally for our coalition of allies and partners? And then finally, I'll end with some thoughts on how the United States is viewing the outcome of this war and what that might mean for its other commitments elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific.
So where we are now, seven months into the conflict, the United States has provided over $15 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, $14 billion of that has occurred after the invasion began on the 24th of February. U.S. support to Ukraine has evolved over time from small arms like Javelin anti-tank systems to Stinger MANPADS to now including larger systems like artillery and HIMARS, and the numbers there are also significant. Numbers provided by the U.S. government include 1,400 Stingers; 8,500 Javelins; 32,000 other types of anti-tank munitions; hundreds of UAVs; over 100 Howitzers, both 155 millimeter and 105 millimeter calibers; radars; 16 HIMARS systems; most recently NASAMs, which are national advanced surface to air missiles; and HARMs, or high speed anti-radiation missiles, that the Ukrainians have been able to retrofit onto their own aircraft. There's also been deliveries of M113 APCs and MRAPs, ammunition, and as well as the information picture, the support the United States is providing is starting to become a little clearer from disclosures in the press, both on record and off, about the provision of commercial satellite imagery and providing data points on Russian forces and what they're doing. And according to a report most recently in The New York Times, U.S. support has also included intelligence and planning support for Ukraine's most recent counteroffensive in Kharkiv.
There's also the matter of third-party transfers and coalition building, both with NATO and other allies and partners globally, about transferring equipment to the Ukrainian military to use in their war and to include old Soviet equipment that would be backfilled by U.S. equipment and the forward provision of U.S. equipment to the Ukrainians. There are some limits, though. The United States, as Admiral Harris pointed out, noted that we would not be putting U.S. military personnel inside Ukraine or boots on the ground. I don't know where the red lines are specifically for the government, but my observation is that when attacks happened inside the Russian mainland, there usually is some sort of comment that will come out from the U.S. government that we were not involved or it wasn't something that we gave to the Ukrainians. So, I wonder if that's part of the red line that we have or the Russians have voiced. But I'm not sure, it's speculation on my part. How does the United States view the war on Ukraine in September? I think we have to break that question into how does the administration view its performance in its support here in the war in Ukraine? How is it viewed more broadly in the U.S. government? And then, how is the war viewed more broadly among the American population?
So starting from the top, starting from some of the views of U.S. leadership, you have quotes by Secretary of Defense Austin that say our goals are as follows: "For Ukraine to remain a sovereign country, a democratic country, able to protect its sovereign territory," and also, quote, "we want to see Russia weaken to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine." Other goals are hoping to see the international community continue to be united in its support of Ukraine. As time moves on, there will be significant reconstruction needs in addition to military regeneration requirements. Secretary of State Blinken noted that we put a strategy in place and, quote, "massive support for Ukraine, massive pressure against Russia, and solidarity with more than 30 countries engaged in these efforts and it's having real results." So, that's the view and sort of the strategic scene setter from from the administration. I would note that, and this is not something I tracked closely, but there are some differences along partisan lines in the United States on our provision of supporting weapons to Ukraine. Most Democrats in Congress are, of course, supporting the administration and supportive of the efforts. I have noticed that there is a bit of a split among Republicans and conservatives. Some are centering around a more isolationist perspective.
I'm asking questions like, 'why are we spending billions of dollars in Ukraine instead of focusing on domestic U.S. issues?' Or others request oversight or greater oversight for how the funds and weapons are being purchased and disseminated inside Ukraine. But then, there's also a part of that group that also supports very traditional foreign policy positions. All that is to say is that the partisan differences so far have not had an impact on the support that the United States is providing. I note the interest among the U.S. population is variable, it waxes and wanes. I think that it was a top story certainly in the spring as it was new, it was a very active battle space on both sides. The story tends to slide down the priority list as different topics come up. I would still say it's a top five story, top ten story, but that is a trend line that I expect will probably go down over time, especially as the United States heads into midterm elections. So, what are U.S. interests more broadly in stopping this aggression and how does that impact how they think about conflict and crisis in the Indo-Pacific? And as previous speakers have noted, our main concern in the United States is about Russia using force to change the borders of its neighbors and really challenge international norms that have been in place for decades.
I imagine that a country like China, and I'm no expert, I would imagine that China is observing the nature of U.S. support and how that's impacting the battlefield outcomes in pretty significant ways and to Ukraine's benefit. I think that it's likely that both Russia and China are going to need time to study the role of many things that we've talked about already in today's session. The Ukrainian will to fight, the impact of a coalition of the willing that is standing behind a country who is experiencing an invasion like this. Russia has been unable to counter this support and many types of Ukrainian tactics on the ground for four months. And there's there's a few reasons for that: endemic to to their own forces, I think they're outclassed in terms of IFR, they have problems with their command and control in terms of poor leadership. A lot of inflexibility there. And there's a lot of chaos as they've lost their best officers, their best NCOs, their professional enlisted, and they're drawing from various buckets of volunteers and their effectiveness over time, their discipline over time is degrading. And it wasn't even good in the beginning, as we can see from from multiple, I would say systemic, human rights violations going on inside Ukraine.
I think it is worth noting that Russia and China are likely to view the Russia-Ukraine conflict now as a new model of proxy warfare between great powers. So, it's going to be interesting to see where they take that analytically in the future and how they implement that. To share a few thoughts on what are some takeaways for the United States for the war in Ukraine is still very much in process. It's not complete, these are just observations that I have currently. I think that there is a sense that Ukraine and the United States and its coalition have been able to build unity and a shared sense of purpose, particularly among allies and partners who are supporting Ukraine via weapons deliveries, sanctions, and housing millions of refugees and other displaced persons coming together to support that while also dealing with the impact of sanctions on their own economies or the impact of Russian energy politics on their own economy. So, this is not a cost-free situation for partners and allies and yet there's still, at this point, a great deal of cohesion.
There's some concerns on how that might fray over time, particularly through this winter, which could be a challenging one. But again, that's a little beyond my my area of expertise. I also think that there are some takeaways here that a highly motivated country like Ukraine with a strong sense of national cohesion and a will to fight is able to rapidly absorb training and equipment in crisis and in wartime. Ukraine's will to fight has been consistently high since the beginning of the war. I would note that in the run up to the war, to include basically the week before, the Ukrainian government was not openly acknowledging that it believed a war was imminent. So, there was quite a rapid shift from the Ukrainian side. President Zelenskyy, a few days into the war, famously said, "I don't need a ride, I need ammunition." And when he did that, he coalesced the political system around himself and became a rallying point for this kind of resistance here. So, I suspect that will impact the U.S.'s thinking about the key factors for supporting allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific during phases of crisis and certainly in conflict.
I think another structural issue the United States has learned and is still trying to figure out what to do about is the intense rate of equipment and munitions expenditure for high-intensity warfare like this. What are the implications for our own defense industrial base? It is not really constructed to produce at this level of expenditure over time; rapidly, excuse me. For example, 19 times since the beginning of the conflict, they've activated presidential drawdown authorities to provide Ukraine with military assistance directly from DoD stockpiles. Those stockpiles need replenishment. I do know that the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, had a quote there put out in the press recently on how he views this issue. And he thinks that the issues going forward with the U.S. defense industrial base is going to need more investment, more workplace development, an increased emphasis on supply chain security. I want to quote him here: "to ensure that components are not being cannibalized in all necessary types of systems, especially munitions, are getting created in sufficient numbers." So, we're talking about the ability to have throughput. And as our previous speakers have noticed, some of our supply lines have been pretty dormant for quite some time.
Sending back to what I see as the impact on Sino-Russian relations, and I'm not an expert on that, it seems to me that China has not really strongly supported Russia's invasion against Ukraine. They have blamed the United States for this, saying that they've instigated this conflict. But I've noticed that their support of Russia's actions has been more ambiguous and vague. Putin and Xi Jinping met just today, and there was the same kind of ambiguous language that was put out about the war after that meeting where Xi noted that China is willing to work with Russia and display the responsibilities of major powers and play a leading role to inject stability and positive energy into a world in chaos. I don't know what kind of stability and positive energy that Russia is injecting by invading its country and it's certainly participating in world chaos as the provider of chaos. So, I thought that was an unusual statement. Basically as far as I can see, China has said that they understand why Russia had to take the actions that it did in Ukraine and just kind of leave that ambiguous statement on the table. To me, that doesn't register as really strong support. So, I don't know what that means going forward in that relationship and I certainly defer to others who follow it, I just think that it's disappointing for Russia.
So thinking forward from here, how does the United States view the outcome of the war and its commitments in the Indo-Pacific? And in my perspective, and again, I've been mostly following how this war is playing out inside Ukraine and in the European theater. I have not seen direct linkages to this war in Ukraine with specific outcomes in the Indo-Pacific. There are more indirect linkages, such as supporting a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific and the commitment to the principle that neighboring countries cannot change borders by force. Some senior U.S. officials have voiced the hope that China is observing and learning how difficult military operations are for a country like Russia and are somehow dissuaded from such an attempt to launch an offensive against Taiwan, which for many reasons already articulated, is pretty challenging. I think the larger point that I would agree with some of our previous speakers is if America's adversaries assume that perhaps American influence, or resolve, or military power was wavering or somehow in trouble after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, our support to Ukraine is a counterpoint to that and likely sends a deterrent message to those who would seek to redefine borders by force. I do think that, I know that there will be some modification to the U.S. national security strategy, given the significant reordering of security in Europe. I'm not sure what that is yet. I don't think it's out, but it's pretty clear that China will remain the adversary-pacing threat for the United States.
In terms of the implications for where U.S. force posture may be going from here, particularly in Europe. I'm not really sure what the changes are at this moment, but the debate is happening. On one hand, Russian military capabilities have underperformed and pose a lower threat than many had assumed prewar, myself included. However, Russia's threatening intent seems to have increased. And I notice that this is coming at a time when their conventional forces are facing significant attrition, and I have some concerns that once again, Russia will be forced to rely more on tactical and strategic nuclear weapons for regional deterrence. What conventional ability they had in that space was not robust in particular, but now it is almost, it's not gone, but it's significantly depleted. I'm not sure of in terms of what that means for posture enhancements yet and specifically what the impact might be on the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific.
At this point, I don't see a need for any decrease in the Indo-Pacific. The capabilities for the kind of conflict in Ukraine are very different than the types of assets that are needed in the Indo-Pacific. So, I think it's less likely that our force presence would contract in the Indo-Pacific unless there's a sharp escalation, of course, to this conflict to NATO which would be a terrible outcome for all involved. And then finally, I wanted to look at this perspective from Russia and what is the impact to their military and their security presence in the Indo-Pacific moving forward through this war and what comes next. I think from an immediate procurement perspective, Russia is facing significant challenges from sanctions and various types of import and export controls, most notably for high tech subcomponents like microchips that it uses for its conventional precision-guided munitions. Some of them, most of them, contain chips from the United States in the West. They're either going to have to attempt sanctions, evasions, or set up shell companies to try to continue to have access to those things, which I suspect they will try to do. And/or they will try to attempt another workaround by finding new markets and new partners to purchase these kinds of materials, potentially from China, potentially from others in the Indo-Pacific.
Russia is going to face more military limits in the years ahead as it attempts to overcome significant long term losses to its forces, military personnel in particular, and military prestige. Russia's force posture in the Far East in the Eastern military district was not robust prewar. This area is considered relatively quiet and was resourced accordingly. But I do note that the impacts on the Russian military have not been proportionate. The Russian army has borne the brunt of the losses, and we're talking major percentages of its tank fleet, armored personnel carriers, and artillery have been captured, destroyed or damaged, along with the personnel that go inside them. Many of those units that face some of the most significant losses were based out of the Russian Far East. Those units simply just do not exist in their previous form anymore. And it's going to take some time for Russia to reconstitute them when the war is over. I note that he Russian navy has not really experienced these kind of losses except for the Black Sea fleet.
So, you'll still see the Russian Pacific fleet doing what it can to show the flag, essentially. You still will see the Russian long range aviation go out in the Pacific. But I know that a large part of that force has been conducting daily or near-daily operations against Ukraine. So, it is going to show significant strains as well, particularly not things that we can always see like maintenance, or impacts and op tempo, or funds available for deployments around the Pacific or close to the United States. But it's going to be a really interesting few years to see how they try to recover from the types of losses that they have, given the constraints that they are now facing. So thank you all very much for your time. This concludes my remarks and I'm happy to take any follow-up questions during Q&A. Thank you, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Thank you very much. That was wonderful. In the scope of about 15–20 minutes, you've gone from domestic U.S. politics all the way up to strategic and operational concerns of the Russian invasion. So, it was great. I have questions that you've spoken a little bit to and I'm going to pull the thread on in Q&A. But thank you, Dara, very much. Let me turn to our final speaker. It is my privilege to introduce a good friend, Dr. Mike Mazarr. Dr. Mazarr is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Prior to joining us at RAND, he held some significant positions. In addition to working at the U.S. National War College, where he was professor and associate dean of academics, Dr. Mazarr was president of the Henry L. Stimson Center, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, senior defense aide on Capitol Hill, and a special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dr. Mazarr's primary interests are U.S. defense policy and force structure, disinformation and information manipulation, East Asian security, nuclear weapons and deterrence, and judgment and decisionmaking under uncertainty. He holds a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Maryland. Mike, I turn it over to you.
Thanks very much, Jeffrey. It's great to be here and obviously I learned a lot from the prior presentations. You had asked me to focus on the implications for the international order and then those implications for the Indo-Pacific region. So, I'm going to make a little bit more of a high-level argument about the future of geopolitics right now in the wake of Ukraine. There have been a lot of discussions about the implications of the war for international order, China and Russia being sort of revisionists out of control, the need to enforce norms of nonaggression as Dr. Harris spoke about, the relationship between China and Russia, their partnership where it's headed as Derek spoke about, and the role and power of economic sanctions. But I want to offer a provocative hypothesis with potential implications for the United States approach to China, the Indo-Pacific. It's about the moment we find ourselves in the kind of the international order and the trajectory of it after Ukraine, how the war will end up shaping global stability, China's place in the world, and how it's affected the security thinking of other actors.
To me, when I look at those trends and themes, they all add up to a potential reality, which is that February 24th, 2022, may eventually be seen as the high watermark of the geopolitical standing of the two major revisionist powers, China and Russia. Now, I say geopolitical standing, not influence. Clearly, China's influence in a variety of parts of the world, Latin America, Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, is growing in various ways. China's integration into societies and economies is growing. I'm not including Iran and North Korea as potential revisionists on this, focusing just on the two major powers, and this conclusion still depends on one very big and possibly optimistic assumption. That is that the United States gets its act together, in effect, that we address some of these social, economic, political issues that are dividing the country, that are wrenching the United States apart and regains a sense of stronger national unity and common purpose in the process, taking some effective action on a variety of the challenges we face.
This has begun with some of the recent investments in infrastructure support for key industries, more specifically, attending to some of the technological competition with China. There is a long way to go, though, especially in terms of institutional reforms. The United States has become way too hidebound, constrained, and risk-averse of an actor. And unless we change that, the argument I'm making might not come true. At RAND, we recently did a big study from the offices and assessment of the Pentagon, on the characteristics that lead to the success of nations that produce national dynamism and competitive advantage. And we laid out a number of main characteristics as we've sort of talked about where the United States stood in regard to those. And this argument that I'm making kind of assumes that the United States undertakes the right policies, makes the right investments to succeed in a variety of those categories, and becomes more competitively effective again. And if it does, though, and if a few other assumptions hold true, I think it may be that in retrospect, we'll look back and say that early 2022 was the peak, actually, of the geopolitical standing of both China and Russia.
Now, that obviously flies in the face of the common perception about Russia, which is that we're undergoing a power transition where China is overtaking the United States, that it's going to move inexorably past the U.S. in terms of geopolitical heft and economic scale. But I think the opposite is true, that for a variety of reasons, the power of each of these two revisionists and the China-Russia condominium that a lot of people are worried about hit it's high watermark this year. I think there's several major reasons why that's true. I'm going to go through them very quickly. A lot of these are familiar to you, so I don't need to go in depth. But they add up to a portrait that I think is counter to the traditional power transition argument. So, reasons why we may have seen this high watermark. Number one, Russian emasculation in the wake of the war. The war has devastated Russia's military. The sanctions are in the process of devastating its high tech sector. This is going to take some time to work out.
Obviously, a lot of the short term news so far has been sort of the resilience of the Russian economy and the lack of decisive effect on its elites in particular. But over time, unless Russia really resets itself and reverses some of the effect of these sanctions, it is in a lot of trouble economically and socially in the medium to long term. Second trend is European security revival, obviously in response to this, you've had a raft of European countries pledge significant increases in defense spending, cooperate together to move away from economic and technological dependence on Russia. Just one example is Germany's pledge of the sort of stretched out, but one-time €100 billion euro increment to defense spending. That alone is about one and a half times the size of Russia's defense budget. If Germany, and then Japan in particular continue on this path, you're going to have a couple of very significant security actors who rise to the very top of global military capabilities. A third trend is social and information resilience. We were worried five years ago that Russian disinformation and Chinese information operations posed a mortal threat to democracies around the world.
I think we're now learning that democracies have much more resilience to outside information meddling than was thought at the time. And we're learning that we are our own biggest enemies, that the real threat to the information environment of these countries is internal misinformation and disinformation from domestic actors, not so much foreign ones. Interestingly, Freedom House just released a really big report on Chinese information penetration of different countries all around the world and active Chinese efforts. But it did a good thing, which was it studied the resilience of the countries in addition to the Chinese activities. And it was striking how many countries they looked at. Even developing countries had moderate to high levels of resilience as measured by a number of indicators and criteria. So, the information resilience of democracies is greater than we thought. A fourth trend limits to autocratic effectiveness. China has been trying to bill itself as the efficient, effective, technocratic alternative to chaotic Western democracies. That narrative has taken an enormous hit in the last six months to a year, partly because of all the reports about Russian army corruption that have come out, but also because of China's mishandling of the zero-COVID policy, the chaos it has created with some of its lockdowns. Reports of Xi Jinping and Putin being disconnected, not getting good information, and the Saddam Hussein– syndrome of disconnected autocrats.
Just today, there was a piece in The Financial Times from columnist Janan Ganesh who says "the story of this year is autocratic incompetence." And obviously that's a story that can wax and wane, but it kind of punctures the sense that they have the governance problem figured out. A fifth trend: intensifying balancing against threats to autonomy. Russia and China have an intense strategic dilemma. They want things, the ability to dominate the sort of choices of neighbors and people even beyond their immediate neighborhood, things that other countries don't want to give them and are resisting. And in a dozen or more Chinese examples, you have seen coercive actions, brazen intimidation, wolf warrior diplomacy, creating anger and blowback in countries within the Indo-Pacific and beyond. And this is an essential dilemma in terms of the strategic ambitions of China and Russia. It's not something they can easily solve. And to the extent that their coerciveness increases, the balancing will also increase, meaning that the geopolitical indicators turn against them.
A sixth trend, a related one, is new multilateral networks among democracies and status for powers. This is AUKUS, it's the Quad, it's dozens of Japanese bilateral and multilateral security and development relationships being built throughout the Indo-Pacific. It's a variety of new U.S. initiatives on investment, in trade, ways in which countries that are committed to autonomy, sovereign control, resisting pressure from potential autocrats in part are linking together to kind of align their activities. And one of the things that does, I think, is that it creates networks of implied commitment and relationship so that when one country, as in Ukraine, is threatened, many others will respond. Not universal, the global south is famously saying this went out but more networks to create more response. Seventh trend: defense build up in Asia. Don't need to say much about that. Led by Japan, but a recognition that China's power is a threat and if Japan really does move in the direction of a 2% threshold or possibly beyond, as some people have suggested and called for, and even sort of committed to, in some ways, that's just going to revolutionize the military balance in Asia. A United States plus Japan more committed to defense expenditure, plus Australia and others, confronts China with a different picture than just facing off against Taiwan or the United States alone.
An eighth trend is China's turbulent economic waters, don't need to say much about this. I'm sure folks in the audience have read all the same things about slowing growth, the difficulties of a transition to a consumer-driven economy, the housing bubble. Some of the latest numbers in the housing bubbles are incredibly stark. Now, China's technocrats have found a way around prospective crises in the past, and they probably will again. But these are systemic, underlying problems that are just eating away at the legitimacy and credibility appeal of the China model. The ninth trend is China's empty coffers. Now, this, I would say, is somewhat independent. But, China's debt problems are very real and one of the main implications we've seen recently is a real slowing of the BRI. The BRI on an annual basis is just not what it was several years ago. Some folks are saying the BRI is over as a major geopolitical initiative, I don't know if I'd go that far. But, the financial constraints have put a real limit to what China can accomplish with the BRI and the earlier narrative that they're going to take over Eurasia with this is exaggerated. Now, that's not to understate the very significant economic relationships that China is building with many developing countries around the world and in some targeted areas, like 5G and infrastructure investment, they have things that the West has no alternative for right now.
So it's not a simple narrative, but China as the "bottomless pit of money to throw at the world" is a narrative that just doesn't exist anymore. And then tenth and finally, China's disappearing population. Some of the recent reports have been, again, pretty remarkable. International World Bank estimates showing a decline through to 2100 of the Chinese population to 600–700 million. We've all seen some of these numbers that have come out from Chinese sources that are even lower than that. So, a China that becomes a rapidly shrinking country in terms of population is a very different China in terms of economic dynamism and productivity, in terms of the dependency ratio and the implications for spending. In a variety of ways, this is going to significantly affect the kind of country that China is. Now, I'm not making this high watermark argument necessarily as a hard and fast prediction because it does depend on a variety of assumptions and variables. U.S. social and political renewal, continued U.S. commitment and engagement around the world, which future administrations could again seek to undermine, European solidarity on sanctions in Ukraine through the coming winter. Europe and Japan and others following through on the promises they've made in terms of security investments.
The lack of a realization in China that kind of a reversal of the state-centric course of the last several years is needed. And there's some big new reform drive, the changes, some of the assumptions that I'm making. But I think there is a lot of evidence that one of the biggest implications for the international order is that the basic narrative and direction we thought we were seeing, which is a power transition where China surpasses the United States in a somewhat multilateral world, where China is now the dominant power aligned to a significant degree with Russia. That narrative may not be what we see, and what we see instead is a more fundamentally multipolar world with a lot of countries claiming a lot of autonomy, a very issue-specific, forum-specific kind of a world where the United States is still the first among equals, but is closely coordinating with a group of industrial democracies, status quo powers, prominent emerging market countries that really want a relatively stable world system. And China and Russia are sort of, as they were a number of years ago, somewhat struggling to fit into that. That's obviously a relatively optimistic prediction or possibility hypothesis. But I think there's reasons to believe it may be, at least in part, where we're headed. And the United States needs to think through what our policies and strategies would be to to maximize the opportunities of such a world. So I'll stop there, Jeff.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Thank you very much, Mike. I expected no less than a provocative hypothesis for the discussion and the push through, the ten trends was really fantastic. And if we have time, I want to pull on the autocratic incompetence trend. I am going to in the time we have left, we have about 30 minutes remaining, I'm going to kick off the Q&A session with my own questions to the speakers asked individually, but I'd like to ask the audience to start asking questions as well directed to the person that you are interested in asking. And I see that we've already received a number of them. Let me start first with Abiru. You did talk about the differences between Abe's response, Kishida's response, which was very informative in how you you laid out the reasoning.
The question I want to ask you is that while the world, while we can see the Japanese government's response, the Kishida administration's response now, at least in the West, often left unknown, are the internal debates that are going on in Tokyo on the reasons for getting involved and taking this level of support. Now, you hinted at some of the reasons why the Kishida government did what it did this time. But like the United States, like we heard from from Dara, I'm assuming that there are some voices of opposition in Japan for not responding the way that the Kishida government did. And so I was wondering if you could provide us just a little bit of insight into some of what the internal opposition to Japan's response to the war has been. Just to give us a sense of what are the different variety of voices in the debate going on in Tokyo right now in responding to the war in Ukraine?
Okay, I'll try to answer your question. I don't like overnight. So serious heated debate. Whether or not we should support Ukraine or we should take a more generous approach to Russia. I don't think that there's such kind of debate, serious debate within those who basically in Japan. Japan basically supports Japan's people, basically support the Kishida administration policy toward Ukraine and Russia. But, I could say that there are several opinions of people that say that we should see the real reason why Russia conducted an invasion or military operation, special military operation is what it's called. These people, I think that belong to the group of what is called anti-globalism. There are, especially in the network, there are also people in Japan who are more inclined to say that now globalists dominate the world and so on. I think that there are people that this kind of opinion, the this kind of people say that, well, February 12, no show. That's one. And, you know, also there are always the people who see no sure wanted to see Russia in favor of the. You know, that's that's these people which has more cultural relationship with Russia and so on.
These people also say that, you know, I when I talk to these people and I often, you know, appear on the TV program, and I understand that you cannot say the real story. Why not share started you know with Russia try these kind of things they said to me. There are people, maybe including. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe she said that the policy toward a dramatic shift. Yes, she does. Just... you know, dramatic shift in the Japan policy to...You know. I would say premature to make such a decision. When I talked with the politicians, who had a...the group of Mr. Abe, he said that the Bush administration led to such a decision too prematurely. So, I think that one reason that. Why, Prime Minster. Oh, well, not. Not exactly Prime Minister Abe. About the group of the people around the Prime Minister Abe. So that the Kishida administration made not exactly the right decision, but that the concern about Russia, China relations.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Let me thank you for that. Let me shift, understanding the domestic discussions and the domestic dynamics in Japan, let me shift to Dara and ask her a similar question here. Because Dara, when you were presenting, you were talking about that there are some areas of divisions between the Republicans and the Democrats regarding Ukraine. But I would say that, when you look at the whole host of broader non-Ukraine policies and issues, there is a big gap between Republicans and Democrats. But when it comes to Ukraine, it appears to be largely closer together, the divisions don't appear to be that great. But as you remarked, you said that there are some areas of division.
Yeah, I would agree with that. I think Ukraine has a lot of bipartisan support given other divisive issues going on. I think that's a carryover from...the interagency tends to come together on on matters like this. And there isn't really a lot of variation over time, regardless of the administration that's been in place.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
So what I wanted to ask you then about that is what is it, though? Abiru talked about what made it possible this time for Japan to be forceful and more forward-leaning in Japan's response? What is it about Russia's war this time that's helped foster some sort of consensus in the U.S. on this issue?
Well, I think it's just so egregious. I mean, it's a war for territorial conquest. The atrocities going on are something no one can really look away from. It's impossible to deny what's happening. Russia is very up front about its goals. It just flies in the face of a lot of accepted international behavior. So I think there's no narrative here that we have to work for to prevent this from happening, the Russians are creating that narrative. So, I think that has something something to do with it. I know that that's a departure from Russia's invasion in 2014, 2015, he had the annexation of Crimea. It really wasn't contested. The Ukrainians were not in a position to contest it militarily, and then it was just essentially over. You know, Russia said this is mine and defended it with nuclear weapons, I'm already here, and the international community didn't really have a card to play in that situation. What they did in the Donbas at that time was, you know, the little green men. It was all covert or concealed, I should say. But it provided the opportunity for those who wanted to look away, to look away. But this time, it's altogether a different animal and it helps build that consensus.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Just one follow up, with the small divisions that you do see in Congress, are they just divisions at the margins or are they having any impact on U.S. policy towards the war?
At this point, I don't see it having an impact. I don't know how that will end up after midterm elections or how presidential elections in 2024 will impact that. But for right now, I don't see political issues impacting that. I feel like there's some looming stockpile pressures. You know, our supplies of certain types of munitions and weapons are not infinite. So, I think that's going to be a pressure that's going to emerge. And then we'll have we'll have to see what happens later with the political question.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Okay. I want to leverage something you said and turn to Mike now in that, Dara talked about how Russia and Admiral Harris said it as well, how we got things wrong with what our expectations of of Russia. Russia being the overwhelming bear that could just trample over Ukraine and Ukraine's resistance that there was some misunderstandings or just there were some mistakes there. You talked about autocratic incompetence. And what I'd like to ask you is that based on that, Russia does appear to have calculated that a more multipolar world would give it some larger degree of insulation from international criticisms or sanctions, or that NATO and the West would be too fractured to respond. What did Russia get wrong? And is there a lesson there that we could maybe draw on thinking about China in the Indo-Pacific?
Yeah. I mean, I think there's there's things that got wrong that are transferable and maybe things that it got wrong that are not so transferable. I mean, in the latter case, part of what it got wrong is there was emphasizing and as others have talked about, based on some of the open source reporting has come out is just completely underestimating the willpower and capacity of their potential target. You know, whether that's true in regard to Taiwan is a separate analytical issue, right? So, that's one clear thing they got wrong. In terms of their expectations of the international system, it's important, and one thing my remark sort of underplayed was it's important to realize they got a little bit right in the sense that there is a large number of countries around the world that maybe voted for the additional UN resolution as a way of throwing something in the U.S. direction, but have largely remained silent and ooze attitude from all reports from the foreign ministries to popular commentary is this isn't our fight, it's really not that different from the United States invading Iraq.
So, in the sense of Russia guessing that maybe the international norm in this case wouldn't rise up to bite them, you know, the United States, Europe, Japan, a handful of other countries are really assuring that that's not the case. It is not a completely unified global reaction. So that's another question for if China's making certain assumptions about thinking about the use of force, how wrong would they be about those kind of conditions? And in that case, what does Europe do? An enormous question. The United States and some friends might fight directly depending on the scenario. But Europe, I'm guessing, probably will not and what kind of sanctions they're willing to put in place. When does that occur in terms of any sort of recession that's going on there? European economies might not have recovered entirely from the energy hit that's going to be coming their way now. So I think the answer is...
Jeffrey W. Hornung
I'm going to jump in here because I think we lost Mike. Okay. So, let me turn the next question over to, I'm going to start to bleed into a little bit of the audience Q&A a little bit. And this is a question really for both Dara and Abiru. One of the questions was asking about what role this was. It was directed to Dara, but I will ask it to both of you, because I think it's relevant. We see a lot of different regional countries, both in Europe as well as in the Indo-Pacific, providing different levels of response. And I guess the question here based off this question is what role do you think that they have, that is it being effective, how effective is the response and looking out more long term? How effective and what is needed long term from other countries to help resolve the war or at least stabilize Ukraine moving forward? If you could just give us a view on what you think how effective other regional countries responses have been so far, and then moving forward, what what else is needed? I'll start with Abiru. Okay, I'll start with Dara.
Sure. So, Ukraine is going to have a few different types of recovery and reconstruction needs moving forward in the future. So, if there are countries who are perhaps reticent to provide weapons support to Ukraine at this time, they may not be as reticent moving forward when this gets to a reconstruction phase. For example, private investment, reconstructing buildings, or cities, or infrastructure, there could be some interested outside groups who are willing to come in and do that. So, I wouldn't say that a lack of participation in some regions right now during the war necessarily transfers to a lack of interest moving forward on the recovery side. There are some significant issues that have to be resolved, though, before that recovery reconstitution can take place. There cannot be a situation in which Russia can just continuously lob missiles into Ukraine. You will not get a lot of international investment in recovery projects or reconstruction projects in that kind of environment. I think it would be very difficult, very challenging.
Ukraine is extensively mined at this point by Russian forces, in some cases, Ukrainian forces. You have to do a significant route clearance, demining, you have to have the ability to go back and forth between the port and the location that you're trying to reconstruct or have an overland route. So, there's just a lot of a lot of steps that have to happen before it's even in a place to begin reconstruction efforts. So, I do view this as a challenge. To get back to your earlier statement about Europe and the kinds of hits that they may or may not take with respect to energy and the kind of domestic spending they'll have to do. Something that's on my radar and I'm no economist and I don't know how this will play out, but these countries may have financial limits where they're not able to contribute to reconstruction, even if they want to. So, I think there's going to be a lot of coalition building that needs to happen, starting now, frankly, and some efforts have already started, but they've not, they've yielded some results but probably what Ukraine would consider disappointing results. It's just really hard, I think, to talk about recovery and reconstruction in such an active warzone at this point.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Abiru, do you have thoughts on that? Do you see long term?
Yes, needless to say, we have to see the end of the war first in order to start reconstruction. But on the other hand, Japan has this kind of experience in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Japan played a leading role in organizing the conference and Japan also met a lot of, you know, support the support of reconstruction in Afghanistan. So first of all, we need to organize kind of the international conference to show the support of the reconstruction process and start the reconstruction of Ukraine. But before that, we need to see the end of the war, of course. And, Japan cannot provide weapons to Ukraine under the current legal restraint. Japan, to be one the countries, and it should be the one of the countries, that make a major law in the reconstruction of Ukraine in terms of financing and so on.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
I believe Mike is back online now. Let me bring him in. Keep you both on screen here, because I have a related question that I want to ask all three of you here. I'm going to start with Mike first. Let me ask both Dara and Abiru on your question first, so you can think about it a little bit. But then I'll turn to Mike. The question I have for both of you is: If this war drags on months, maybe a year, how do you see the U.S. and Japanese support just at the level that we see now? If you could just give us your thoughts. But I want to ask Mike first, you talked about how this is a high watermark of international standing potentially for Russia and China. I guess what do you see the long term effect being on the international order? There was a question in the chat about what is the strategic benefit to the United States for assisting in this war? And I'm just wondering if you could give us sort of your broad thoughts about if this is the high watermark of international standing for China and Russia. Is this zero sum here? This is coming at a benefit for the United States and other democracies, that because they're pushing back on this, that they're going to gain structurally from this? If you could give us your thoughts on that.
I mean, just briefly, I think there's it's not entirely a zero sum. I mean, obviously, yes, there's a benefit in the sense that it opens more of an opportunity than I think people have been assuming to have a sort of a postwar international order 2.0, very different, more multipolar, but still fundamentally oriented around value-sharing democracies and in some cases, nondemocracies that are basically status quo powers and happy to work with them on most other issues. So I think that, as I say, there's a lot of assumptions and things that have to be overcome to get to that world. But it is a much more hopeful, I mean, Jessica Chen Weiss had a really good piece on foreign affairs recently about U.S.-China policy, saying we need a positive agenda, not just a 'we're going to stop China from doing things.' And the United States can have a much more sort of overall ambitious and positive narrative about building a renewed order and in the process going to developing companies.
I mean, ranging from India to Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, many others, Vietnam, and saying this has to be an order with a better place for you than the last one, not as much U.S.-dominated. And that kind of an agenda, if that kind of world is possible, is a tremendous U.S. competitive advantage. So one thing I would just finally say is I don't know that it says a whole lot about Taiwan. China's intentions toward, behaviors toward Taiwan could unfold completely independently on that one issue from that world that I'm sketching out.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Okay. Let me ask Dara first. If this drags out long term, where do you see U.S. resolve in this war?
So, I've learned that predicting the future is a fool's errand in this war. So let me talk about the factors that would change my mind one way or the other on what might happen with U.S. support. So, I think this is probably a less likely option, but it is certainly Ukraine's hope that the United States actually expands its support with different kinds of longer-range munitions and more-robust air defenses, just more intense equipment, either tanks, APCs. I mean, they're very clear about what they want from us now. There's potentially some reasons why that might happen, if there is a judgment that Russia would not escalate, given the profound sense of weakness that they are experiencing in this week in particular, or if there was a judgment that these kind of weapons would make a difference and a decisive difference in resolving an operational outcome, it's possible, I don't think likely. I think the most likely explanation is that U.S. support may, it has more factors that point to a gradual tapering off of support than what we're seeing right now. And I say that because I don't really see the processes or the structures in place that would imply that we are preparing to expand our production lines, to continue to crank on this and generate new equipment.
I don't see those steps in place. If those kind of decisions do come online, then I would probably change my thinking on this and saying, okay, it's sustainable. And then there's also the the wild card. And again, I feel like this is very low likelihood, but we have to talk about it, is that there could be a pretty abrupt tapering off in the future. So, I don't really know if that's a domestic outcome or if that could potentially be a result of something like a black swan kind of Russian move to try to escalate this, to stop it. Again, I think that's probably low likelihood, but we have to at least consider that possibility. All in all, I think we're going to see a holding of the current line right now because Ukrainians are being very successful with what they're being given and it's having results and impacts and they are liberating territory. Long term out, a couple of years from now I do think that a gradual tapering off is most likely.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Abiru, I'll give you the final, we have about 3 minutes left in our session here, I'll give you a final word here. How do you see the Japanese response if this goes months? Years?
At this moment, Japan also sees the price increase. But so far, the discussion is not directly linked with the price increase and the Ukraine crisis. Well, now, fortunately or unfortunately, we have the weekend. So, we don't have that direct link between the Ukraine crisis and the price increase. So, I don't see any major fracture that could force Japan's government or Japan's people to change the course of support toward Ukraine. But Japan's government has closely watched what would happen in Europe this winter and what would happen in the United States in the course towards 2024. So, that would be a major factor that could change Japan's attitude toward Ukraine.
Jeffrey W. Hornung
Well, we are at the close here. At the beginning, two and a half hours seemed like a very long time. But with all the discussions that we've had, it's gone very quickly. I want to thank our keynote speaker, Admiral Harris. Our panelists, our co-hosts and all our audience members who tuned in, as well as the exceptional AV team at RAND that has been helping me behind the scenes here. I would like to let you all know that the second event in this series will be held on October 10th. In that event, we will examine an issue that came up many times today, but we will drill down on it, and that's the issue of Taiwan and the connections. And we will have the pleasure of hearing from some of the brightest minds on the topic, including Dr. Masuda Yasuhiro, Dr. Sheila Smith, Mr. Cortez Cooper, and our keynote speaker, Mr. Matt Pottinger, who is the former deputy national security adviser. But for all of you, thank you for joining us. Stay well and I hope to see you all at our next event, thank you very much.
Research conducted by
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.