Implications of Russia’s Wars in Georgia and Ukraine

  • October 23, 2017
  • COL Cory J. Delger

In August 2008 Russia initiated military operations against Georgia to establish domination in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Within five days Russia was able to achieve its strategic objectives with minimal casualties. The swift victory over Georgia was not accidental. Russia thoroughly planned its invasion over the course of several years and formulated a well-balanced strategy that mitigated the risk of violating international norms. Six years later Russia followed a similar design when it illegally annexed Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine. Unlike its invasion of Georgia, Russia has been unable to achieve its strategic objectives in Ukraine. This strategy research project argues that Russia’s success in Georgia was a result of a calculated strategic formulation consisting of clearly defined objectives and careful application of its instruments of national power. In Ukraine, however, Russia’s failed to define the ends it sought to achieve before taking armed aggression and has been unsuccessful in gaining a strategic advantage.