Vassily Kashin is a global fellow at PS21 and senior researcher at the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST)
For the Russian public, what is happening in Ukraine is not a Cold War, it is a real war. On the news every night there are reports from the front line. Government simply cannot afford politically to let these republics fall now. There is a realisation that things will be more difficult but there is also a willing for hardship… a sense of pride. it has certainly strengthened the position of the current leadership.
The US is not going to do anything which will really change the conflict in Ukraine. If they provide heavy weaponry then Russia will just provide more heavy weaponry — and the Americans will just be guaranteeing their sophisticated systems and the hands of Russia and China in weeks or months. They may be able to make the Ukrainian infantry slightly more effective but what Ukraine really needs is an entirely new army and that will take time.
The attempts to isolate Russia is really only effective in Europe and with some of America’s closest allies such as Australia. Japan has enacted some very light sanctions. South Korea have not enacted any at all. Russia is involved in a lot more outreach in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. There is a realisation that we need new markets, new sources for resources. We have a new relationship with Turkey as well as with Israel and Iran.
The Chinese have been watching what is happening in Ukraine very closely. They will take what Russia has done there into account for any conflict taking place involving them.
The risk of a catastrophic nuclear war is still low. But there are some people who now worry about it. I still don’t think it is very likely.