• James Sherr OBE – Senior Fellow, Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at the Int’l Centre for Defence & Security, Tallinn
Keywords: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the West’s response, policy of ambivalence, the calculus of risk


This article highlights the importance of accuracy in understanding the expectations, judgments and apprehensions of all parties involved in an armed conflict. The author reviews misconceptions that Russia, Ukraine and the West had about each other prior to 24 February and singles out three axioms that arguably need to be kept in the foreground while analyzing the stakes and perils of this war. Five arguments, ranging from issues of geopolitics to matters of economy and security, are then put forward to prove why a failure to defeat Russia will cost Ukraine and the West more than the West’s determination to do what is necessary to enable Ukraine to prevail. The author concludes that if the West’s hesitancy is not replaced by a sense of urgency, the United States and its European allies will face a choice of a different nature: direct intervention with Russia or the loss of Ukraine.


Askew, J. (2022, June 16). Europeans divided over how Ukraine war should play out, reveals poll. Euronews.

Biden, J. (2022, May 31). President Biden: What America will and will not do in Ukraine. New York Times.

Putin, V. (2021, July 12). The Historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians (Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev, J.Sherr, Trans.). President of Russia.

Racz, A. (2022, March). Becoming a Military District: Deepening military cooperation between Russia and Belarus. EUISS Brief 4. European Union Institute for Security Studies.

Sherr, J. (2015, June). A war of narratives and arms. In Giles Keir, Hanson Philip, Lyne Roderic, Nixey James, Sherr James and Wood Andrew. The Russia Challenge. Chatham House Report, June 2015 (pp. 23–32). Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Sherr, J. (2022, April 21). The Fear of Victory. ICDS.

Sun Tzu. (2006). The Art of War (Lionel Giles, Trans.). Ballingslov, Sweden: Wisehouse Classics.

Trenin, D. (2022, May 20). Policy and circumstances: Are we able to preserve the country and develop it further? (Politika i obstoyatel’stva: sposobny li my sokhranit’ stranu i razvivat’ eye dal’she?). Russia in Global Affairs (Rossiâ v global’noj politike).

Walker, P. (2022, June 26) Boris Johnson warns of risk of fatigue in west’s support for Ukraine. The Guardian.

Weapons delays cast doubt on Germany’s support for Ukraine. (2022, June 16). France 24.

How to Cite
Sherr, J. (2022). THE DANGERS OF AN UNDEFEATED RUSSIA. Strategic Panorama, 5-11.