The Russia-Ukraine Conflict and the (Un)Changing Character of War

The latest edition of the Journal of Military and Strategic Studies is now out. It consists of a special edition devoted to the war in Ukraine, with articles by myself, Alexander Hill, Andrei Tsygankov, Andrej Krickovic and Richard Sakwa, Geoffrey Roberts, and Olayinka Ajala. The journal is open access, so you can all read it free of charge here.

In his introduction to the special edition, Professor Hill notes that:

what sets these authors apart is that they all are willing to write about what they have seen and understand without feeling obliged to follow an unofficial party line in the Western media that all but dictates a particularly blinkered and flawed understanding of many aspects of Russia’s war in the interests of what is perceived as supporting Ukraine. All of those writing here are unwilling to sacrifice their critical faculties for fashionable short-term political ends, and as serious scholars their desire to understand rather than to judge is paramount. As such, and as I hope you’ll agree having read their work, they have produced a thought-provoking range of essays on current events and the background to them that will challenge many of the assumptions on which much Western media reporting and wider understanding of the war rest.

My own contribution is a sort of ‘lessons learnt from the war in Ukraine’. It examines theories of the allegedly changing character of war and then compares them to the realities of the war in Ukraine. To avoid spoilers, I will not say what I conclude, but invite you to read the article here.

Your views on my piece, or any of the others in the journal, are welcome in the comments section on this blog.

Podcasting Russia, Ukraine, and Energy Security

In the past couple of weeks I have taken part in a couple of podcasts. In case they might interest you, details are below.

The first was with Canadian MP Garnett Genuis, along the Polish ambassador to Canada, on the topic of energy security. You can listen to that here.

The second was on The Hrovje Moric Show on TNT Radio, where we discussed various issues to do with Russia and Ukraine. It is available here.

Happy listening!

Financial War and Its Discontents

In my latest monthly column for Canadian Dimension magazine, I discuss proposals being made in the West to confiscate Russian property and give it to Ukraine. I argue that coming on top of similar thefts of Venezuelan and Afghan money, the West may well be shooting itself in the foot by undermining faith in the international financial system that to date has brought it enormous benefits. Read here.

Symposium on Realism and Legitimacy

I have contributed to the symposium below:

Landmarks: A Journal of International Dialogue

The Simone Weil Center’s Symposium on Realism and Legitimacy asked a slate of distinguished experts for their thoughts on Russia’s apparent loss of legitimacy, and the United States’ apparent loss of both realism and contact with reality.

We are delighted to have received extremely thoughtful responses from Anatol Lieven, James Carden, Nicolai N. Petro, Andrei Tsygankov, Ethan Alexander-Davey, Gordon Hahn, Richard Sakwa, Paul Robinson, Adam Webb, and Paul Grenier.   

Their answers can be found below. Enjoy. 

America’s Crisis of Reality and Realism (Part I)

Anatol LIEVEN, James CARDEN, Nicolai PETRO, Ethan ALEXANDER-DAVEY, Gordon HAHN

America’s Crisis of Reality and Realism (Part II) Richard SAKWA

Russia and the Question of Legitimacy (Part III) Anatol LIEVEN, Nicolai N. PETRO, Andrei TSYGANKOV, Ethan ALEXANDER-DAVEY, Gordon HAHN

Russia and the Question of Legitimacy (Part IV)  Paul ROBINSON, Adam WEBB, Paul R. GRENIER

From the Symposium:

“[T]he closure of the political West’s mind is the salient feature of our time. It generates a reality that is largely impervious to the concerns of others. This leaves little scope for empathy, let alone sympathy, for the viewpoints of antagonists. Power and ideas have fused, the hallmark of an ideology.”

— Richard Sakwa

“[O]ne force that may restore some feeling of state legitimacy among at least some westernizing Russian intellectuals … is the West itself.”

  — Anatol Lieven

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Counter-disinformation Canadian style: poorly conceived, badly executed


I’m on a roll, publication-wise, this week. You can read my latest piece, in my capacity as a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, here. In this I respond to Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement that the Canadian government will set up a team to counter Russian ‘disinformation and propaganda.’

If you want an example of how this sort of this is done in a horribly bad fashion, I recommend the Government of Canada’s existing webpage ‘Countering Disinformation with Facts’, which I mention in my piece (you can view the webpage here). The intellectual quality of the work is shockingly poor, and leads me to conclude in my article that ‘It is doubtful that [the Canadian government] has the expertise or objectivity to do a decent job. If the new organization’s work is on the same level as previous efforts, it is likely to do more harm than good.’

Happy reading!

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