Potential Implications of the Russia–Ukraine War for Northeast Asia
Published in: Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament (2023). doi: 10.1080/25751654.2023.2178205
Posted on RAND.org on February 21, 2023
The Russia–Ukraine war has caused decision-makers worldwide to acknowledge the thinkability (plausibility) of limited nuclear war. It has probably reduced any confidence China may have about being able easily and quickly to invade Taiwan. It will stimulate the United States to spur allies in Northeast Asia to beef up their own military capabilities by developing, purchasing and deploying advanced defensive weapons effective in actual war. Having experienced dilemmas in the Russia–Ukraine war, the United States may be even more reluctant to use nuclear weapons in defense of its allies and it may become less strident in discouraging its vulnerable allies in NE Asia from having nuclear weapons. Experience from the Russia–Ukraine war also highlights the importance of broad-ranging economic warfare as part of a response to aggression. Also, it highlights the importance of having the industrial capacity and agility to support long wars demanding massive numbers of precision conventional weapons. Finally, experience with the war should make both analysts and policymakers even more skeptical about best-estimate predictions or assessments. In particular, they should not assume away scenarios that involve long military-economic wars, countervalue attacks that blatantly violate laws of war, or even the intendedly limited use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.