Russia, a military superpower, attacked its smaller and weaker neighbor Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The successor of the former USSR, Russia perceives a threat from the NATO’s eastwards expansion, intends to prevent Ukraine from joining the NATO and project power and regain influence lost after the breakup of the USSR in 1991. Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine began in 2014 with the seizure of the Ukrainian city of Crimea and support to pro-Russia secessionist armed groups in Luhansk and Donetsk.
Russia’s initial military objectives were to disarm Ukrainian Armed Forces, de-Nazification of Ukraine, install a pro-Russia government in Kyiv, prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, and regain lost international influence in 1991. To achieve these objectives, Russia invaded Ukraine from three sides: north, east, and south with massive air, land, and sea power.
Russia’s “special military operations” in Ukraine failed to succeed as planned. Russian military sustained heavy casualties in terms of men and materials. Hence, after about seven weeks, Russia shifted its objective and changed its military strategy. It pulled out its ground forces from Kyiv, Chernihiv sector (north), and shifted to the eastern and southern sectors. Russia’s military strategy was to achieve air supremacy, suppress Ukrainian ground forces, capture Kyiv and other cities through the Blitzkrieg style lightning offensive and destroy military infrastructure and cities. More than 10 million Ukrainians have fled their country and become refugees in various European countries.
Russia has used the latest military technology and hardware on a massive scale in the war, including the threat of using nuclear weapons in case of existential threats. Western countries imposed economic sanctions on Russia the world has never seen before. European countries and the West are more united than ever before. Despite the Russian warnings, Finland and Sweden are poised to join NATO soon. Oil and commodity prices have soared globally.
Although the war is continuing and going to become a long war, Nepal as a small and landlocked country situated between two giant and powerful countries can learn lots of lessons for its national security. Primarily, Nepal needs to prevent any security threats against its neighbors from within its territory and focus on strengthening social harmony and national unity, diversifying its trade and dependency, and enhancing the feeling of patriotism amongst the youths.
Maj Gen Purna B. Silwal (retd), PhD