Despite a crumbling economy, Russian President Vladimir Putin remains defiant in increasing Moscow’s influence in eastern Europe. In Ukraine, cease-fire agreements have only prolonged Kyiv’s battle against Russian-backed separatists in its east. Simultaneously, the Kremlin’s subversive economic and political actions in eastern Europe and former Soviet states continue unabated, confirming that Ukraine is unlikely to be Putin’s last attempt to expand Moscow’s influence, and perhaps even territory, in the regions closest to Russia.

In this issue brief, Christopher Musselman, the 2014 US Navy Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft for International Security, argues that the West should not settle for a short-term solution or the status quo in Ukraine or the region. Instead, the West should consider developing a comprehensive set of policies and strategies to counter Putin’s actions in eastern Europe in ways that reassure allies and partners, reduce Russian economic influence in vital sectors, enhance deterrence, and increase the resilience of civil society in allied and partner countries. The transatlantic alliance needs to emerge from the Ukraine crisis with a stronger commitment to common defense, economic policies reducing Russian geopolitical influence, increased civil society resiliency, and unity among members while seeking opportunities for focused diplomatic cooperation with Russia on critical shared interests.

pdfRead the Issue Brief (PDF)