Foreign policy experts discuss Ukraine crisis hours after Russian invasion begins

On February 24, the day that President Vladimir Putin of Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a group of experts convened at an NYU Law event to discuss the military crisis and its global repercussions. The discussion covered topics such as the efficacy of sanctions against Russia; how NATO allies might react to the invasion; and the sweeping economic, geopolitical, and historical consequences that could arise from Russia’s actions.

Watch the video of the event:

Co-hosted by the Reiss Center on Law and Security, Just Security, and the NYU Law Forum and sponsored by Latham & Watkins, the panel was moderated by Viola Gienger, Washington senior editor of Just Security and a research scholar at NYU Law. Participants included: 

  • Dan Baer, acting director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Europe Program and former US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
  • Tess Bridgeman ’10, senior fellow and visiting scholar at the Reiss Center on Law and Security, co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, and former deputy legal advisor at the National Security Council
  • Daniel Fried, Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and former coordinator for sanctions policy and assistant secretary of state for Europe at the US Department of State 
  • Rose Gottemoeller, Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and former deputy secretary general of NATO

Selected remarks by the panelists:

Rose Gottemoeller: “There was a lot of wedge-driving going on when I was deputy secretary general of NATO by the Russian Federation to try to drive wedges between the Germanys and the Frances and those former Warsaw Pact countries who are the newer members of NATO. Not now. Not now. The actions of Putin over the last months and the Russian Federation have really driven the NATO alliance to a point of unity that I have never seen before, and I believe will continue in terms of unified resolve to deter and defend the alliance and to do everything they can at this juncture to prevent any spillover from the conflict in Ukraine from affecting NATO territory, and that’s going to be a difficult job to do.” (video 10:40)

Dan Baer: “I think it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that we are living through the most consequential week in European security since maybe the fall of the Berlin Wall, and maybe before. Unfortunately, this is a giant step backward…. This is a major war in the middle of Europe. The United States and its citizens have a stake in there being a functioning global system… and we have worked very hard with partners and allies over the last three generations to build functioning rules that can prevent massive disruptions to the international system. A war like this is a massive disruption.” (video 13:09)

Tess Bridgeman: “The bedrock principles of the international legal order are what Putin is challenging. It’s also important to note here that Putin’s attempt to muddy the waters as to whether there was a legal pretext for his actions failed completely. His purported rationales were simply based on too many blatant falsehoods to hold any water, and the work of the US intelligence community and its partners was really important in staying one step ahead of Putin’s narrative and exposing the falsehoods, preventing him from being able to shift momentum towards the narrative he was trying to build. By preempting any pretext for the invasion, the absence of a provocation for Russia’s aggression is very clear here. The case could not be more clear-cut.” (video 18:19)

Daniel Fried: “Every US administration from George H.W. Bush has reached out to the Kremlin. All of them had reasons for doing so. All of them enjoyed some success. All of them were ultimately frustrated. There’s no going back to reset 2.0 or stable and predictable or anything like that. Putin is a hostile actor. He is a 20th-century tyrant, aggressive at home and aggressive abroad…. It’s going to be principally an adversarial relationship with a hostile power.” (video 28:05)

Posted March 1, 2022