The current threats of economic sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine do not appear sufficient to deter Putin.
Putin’s disdainful remarks about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday in Moscow, following his five-hour meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, suggest a hardened attitude and a dug-in position.
Deterrence of a Russian invasion should not be considered merely as a desirable objective, but rather as an absolute necessity for the security of Europe, Taiwan, and other countries.
Moreover, the survival of the post-World War II U.N. Charter-based system for the maintenance if international oeace and security, and international relations based on international law, are at stake.
The alternative, in a nuclear age, is the “right-makes-right” system that led to two world wars in the twentieth century.
Maximum Assured Deterrence
To make sure the law-abiding nations of the world avoid the fate they suffered after 1938, they must adopt deterrent measures that provide “Maximum Assured Deterrence”, that is, not just deterrence that seems “politically feasible” but which may or may not work.In an age when Mutual Assured Destruction (what we can call MAD I) may deter a nuclear first -strike, but may not deter aggression with conventional weapons, “Maximum Assured Deterrence” (which we can call MAD II) may be required to deter aggression and invasions by conventional forces.
What steps can be taken, even now, to provide “Maximum Assured Deterrence” against a Russian invasion of Ukraine?
The preceding analysis strongly suggests that an optimal strategy for dealing with Putin and Russia, starting today, would include the following components:
1) Adoption of the Maximum Assured Deterrence steps outlined above; and
2) Development of fully-developed and coordinated negotiating positions on Minsk II implementation in order to help construct an off-ramp which Putin might be persuaded to take.
Time is of the essence. These steps should be taken as soon as possible, on an urgent basis.