Understanding the Russo-Ukrainian War: A Guide From War on the Rocks

We at War on the Rocks have curated this list of articles and podcasts to help you gain a deeper understanding of the history, drivers, background, and events of Russia’s massive assault on Ukraine. Whether you are a soldier or a student, a policymaker or a pundit, a teacher or a techie, this will be useful for you.

Critically, these offerings help place the conflict in the broader context of relations and confrontations between Russia and the West. These resources go back to 2014 and are organized by focus: strategy and the military balance, diplomacy, history, resistance, nuclear weapons and arms control, cyber, energy, Russian politics, and more. This list will be updated regularly. If it’s not marked “MEMBERS ONLY,” it is free for you to read, listen, and share as much as you want.

Updated 05/18/22

You can become a member here.

 

Strategy and the Military Balance

Counter-Attacks and Can-Kicking in the Russo-Ukrainian War,” with Michael Kofman and Ryan Evans (5/2022)

Start with the Political: Explaining Russian’s Bungled Invasion of Ukraine,” by Jeffrey Edmonds (4/2022)

Ukraine’s Military Advantage and Russia’s Stark Choices,” with Michael Kofman and Ryan Evans (4/2022)

Loitering Munitions in Ukraine and Beyond,” by Brennan Deveraux (4/2022)

The Russo-Ukrainian War at Sea: Retrospect and Prospect,” by B.J. Armstrong (4/2022)

What Artillery and Air Defense Does Ukraine Need Now?” by Michael Jacobson (4/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “What the Sinking of the Moskva Means,” with Dmitry Gorenburg (4/2022)

Supporting Ukraine for the Long War,” by Jack Watling (4/2022)

Russia Downscales Its War, But Not in Brutality,” with Ryan Evans and Michael Kofman (4/2022)

The Army, the Government, and the People in the Russo-Ukrainian War,” with Michael Kofman, Mark Pomar, Alexandra Sukalo, and Doyle Hodges (4/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russian Losses in Ukraine Highlight Manpower Problem,” with Aaron Stein and Michael Kofman (4/2022)

A Proxy War in Ukraine Is the Worst Possible Outcome — Except For All the Others,” by Sam Winter-Levy (3/2022)

A New Phase of the Russo-Ukrainian War Begins,” with Michael Kofman (3/2022)

Will Russia Create New ‘People’s Republics’ in Ukraine?” by Andrew Lohsen (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russia’s Air War in Ukraine,” with Justin Bronk (3/2022)

Russia’s War in Ukraine: How Does this End?” with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble (3/2022)

In the Fourth Week, Is Russia Revising its War Aims Amidst Attrition?” with Michael Kofman (3/2022)

Putin’s Folly: The Case of an Inept Strategist,” by Joshua Rovner (3/2022)

Into the Third Week: Will Russian Forces Need to Pause?” with Michael Kofman (3/2022)

11 Days In: Russia’s Invasion Stumbles Forward,” with Michael Kofman (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “What We’ve Learned (So Far) About the Russian Military,” with Dmitry Gorenburg (3/2022)

Making the Most of Foreign Volunteers in Ukraine,” by Austin Doctor (3/2022)

The Dangerous Allure of the No-Fly Zone,” by Mike Pietrucha and Mike Benitez (3/2022)

Ukraine and a Guide to Avoiding World War III,” by Aaron Stein (3/2022)

The Wargame Before the War: Russia Attacks Ukraine,” by Jim Lacey, Tim Barrick, and Nathan Barrick (3/2022)

Putin Loses No Matter How This Plays Out, But We Might Too,” by Jean-Baptiste Jeangene Vilmer

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russian Air Force On the Sidelines for Now,” with Justin Bronk

Interpreting the First Few Days of the Russo-Ukrainian War,” War on the Rocks podcast with Michael Kofman (2/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “The Russo-Ukrainian War Begins” with Michael Kofman (2/2022)

Moscow Musings on Brinksmanship from Stalin to Putin,” by Sergey Radchenko (2/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russia Recognizes Breakaway Territories in Eastern Ukraine,” with Emma Ashford (2/2022)

Passports as Pretext: How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Could Start,” by Fabian Burkhardt (2/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Sources of U.S.-Russian Competition,” with Stephanie Pezard (2/2022)

Putin’s Wager in Russia’s Standoff with the West,” by Michael Kofman (1/2022)

Countering Hybrid Warfare: Mapping Social Contracts to Reinforce Societal Resiliency in Estonia and Beyond,” by Salamah Magnuson, Morgan Keay, Kimberly Metcalf (Texas National Security Review, 1/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “What Should NATO Do if Russia Invades Ukraine?” with Lt. Gen. (ret.) Ben Hodges (1/2022)

What Is Russia’s Logic for the Current Crisis?” by Maxim A. Suchkov (1/2022) Note: a perspective from Moscow.

Inching Toward War in Europe,” Horns of a Dilemma with Mary Sarotte (1/2022)

A Heavy Price to Pay?Net Assessment with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble (1/2021)

Strategic Ambiguity and the Risk of War with Russia Over Ukraine,” by Ralph Clem and Ray Finch (12/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Dangerous Russia-Ukraine Crisis Continues,” with Michael Kofman (12/2021)

Feeding the Bear: A Closer Look at Russian Army Logistics and the Fait Accompli,” by Alex Vershinin (11/2021)

Salami Tactics: Faits Accomplis and International Expansion in the Shadow of Major War,” by Richard W. Maas (Texas National Security Review, 11/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “New Russian Build-Up on Ukrainian Border,” with Michael Kofman (11/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Immediate Russia-Ukraine Crisis Seems Over…For Now,” with Michael Kofman (4/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russia and the West on the Brink,” with Michael Kofman (4/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russia’s Military Build-Up Around Ukraine Continues,” with Michael Kofman (4/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russia Deploys Military to Ukrainian Border,” with Michael Kofman (4/2021)

The Moscow School of Hard Knocks: Key Pillars of Russian Strategy,” by Michael Kofman (11/2019)

It’s Time to Talk About A2/AD: Rethinking the Russian Military Challenge,” by Michael Kofman (9/2019)

How the Big Bear Used Hybrid Warfare in its Backyard,” Horns of a Dilemma with Liam Collins (5/2019)

Raiding and International Brigandry: Russia’s Strategy for Great Power Competition,” by Michael Kofman (6/2018)

Russian Hybrid War As a Byproduct of a Hybrid State,” by Mark Galeotti (12/2016)

Ukraine and the Art of Crisis Management” by Lawrence Freedman (4/2015)

Ukraine and the Art of Limited War,” by Lawrence Freedman (10/2014)

Ukraine and the Art of Exhaustion,” by Lawrence Freedman (8/2015)

Russia and Ukraine: Not the Military Balance You Think,” by Dmitry Gorenburg (11/2014)

 

 

Resistance

Roots of the Resistance: Understanding National Identity in Ukraine,” by Aaron Erlich (4/2022)

Of Roadside Bombs and Drones: Putin’s Looming Insurgency Problem,” by Scott Sweetow (4/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “U.S. Public Perceptions of the Russian-Ukrainian War,” with Dina Smeltz (3/2022)

Oft Forgotten But Critical Elements of Ukrainian Resistance,” by Walter Haynes (3/2022)

Lessons from Finland for Ukraine and Its Foreign Legion,” by Elizabeth M.F. Grasmeder (3/2022)

Can Ukrainian Resistance Foil a Russian Victory?” by Brian Petit (2/2022)

The Changing Face of Russian Counter-Irregular Warfare,” by Benjamin Arbitter and Kurt Carlson (12/2021)

 

Diplomacy and Sanctions

MEMBERS ONLY: “The Moldovan Dimension,” with Stanislav Secrieru (5/2022)

From Iraq to Ukraine: A New Perspective on the Russian-Western Confrontation,” by Samuel Helfont (5/2022)

Solidarity with Ukraine,” with Lech Walesa (5/2022)

To Really Hurt Russia’s Economy, Target Investment and Human Capital, Not Gas,” by Seth Benzell (5/2022)

Is Hungary Ukraine’s Biggest Problem in the European Union?” by Hadas Aron and Emily Holland (4/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “What the U.S. Visit to Ukraine Means,” with Michael Kofman

The Putinomics Playbook Won’t Work Forever,” by Chris Miller (4/2022)

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and NATO’s Crisis of Nuclear Credibility“, by by Tyler Bowen (4/2022)

The End of Strategic Cacophony? The Russo-Ukrainian War and the Future of NATO” by Jason W. Davidson (4/2022)

CEOs Beware: “Feel-Good” Isolation of Russia Might Make Things Worse,” by Molly M. Melin (4/2022)

A Mixed Bag: Putin’s Ukraine War and the Fight Against Europe’s Authoritarians,” by Mason Richey (4/2022)

The Work to Come: Russia, Ukraine, and the West at the Negotiating Table,” by Tom Hill (3/2022)

The Personal Face of International Tension: Hostage Diplomacy and Russia’s War in Ukraine,” with Danielle Gilbert (3/2022)

Duty Bound to Disaster: Beware the Imperative in Foreign Policymaking,” by Michael Mazarr (3/2022)

The Wisdom of Nuclear Carve-Outs From the Russian Sanctions Regime,” by Richard M. Nephew (3/2022)

Making Coercion Work Against Russia,” Jane Vaynman, Tristan A. Volpe (3/2022)

Is the West Laissez-Faire About Economic Warfare?” by Esfandyar Batmanghelidj (3/2022)

The Russian Sanctions Regime and the Risk of Catastrophic Success,” by Erik Sand and Suzanne Freeman (3/2022)

A Case for French Leadership on Ukraine,” by Gesine Weber (3/2022)

The Unfreezable Asset: Gold, Sanctions, and Russia,” by Daniel McDowell (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russian Economy Rocked By Unprecedented Western Sanctions,” with Julia Friedlander (3/2022)

A Letter from Moscow: (In)Divisible Security and Helsinki 2.0,” by Alexander Graef and Ulrich Kühn (2/2022)

How Would the American Public Respond to an Invasion of Ukraine?,” by Jordan Tama and Dina Smeltz (2/2022)

As Finland Watches: From Alignment to Alliance?” by Matti Pesu (2/2022)

Why Germany Behaves the Way That it Does,” by Marcel Dirsus (2/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Leaked Documents Outline Western Response to Russian Demands,” with James Goldgeier (2/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Who is Willing to Fight Over Ukraine?” with Olga Oliker (1/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “The Time for Diplomacy with Russia Over Ukraine is Running Out,” with Samuel Charap (1/2022)

The Berlin Crisis, Ukraine, and the 5 Percent Problem,” by Sergey Radchenko (12/2021)

Call Putin Out By Negotiating,” by Ryan Evans (12/2021)

MEMBERS ONLY: “America’s Alliance Management Challenge in the Russia-Ukraine Crisis,” with Rachel Rizzo (12/2021)

Towards a Transatlantic Strategy on Russia Sanctions,” by Maria Shagina (12/2021)

Solving the Russia Riddle,” Net Assessment with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble (7/2021)

Why NATO Should Not Offer Ukraine and Georgia Membership Action Plans,” by Henrik B.L. Larsen (6/2021)

Expanding the Scope for Statecraft in U.S. Russia Policy,” by Samuel Charap (5/2021)

An Episode of Existential Uncertainty: The Ontological Security Origins of the War in Donbas,” by Brendan Chrzanowski (Texas National Security Review, 5/2021)

A Crisis of Diverging Perspectives: U.S.-Russian Relations and the Security Dilemma,” by Charles E. Ziegler (Texas National Security Review, 11/20)

Desperate Measures: The Effects of Economic Isolation on Warring Powers,” by Eric Sands (Texas National Security Review, 4/2020)

A People-Centered Approach to Conflict Resolution in Ukraine,” by Céline Marangé (7/2019)

NATO at 70: Will Continued Expansion Endanger Americans?” by Will Ruger (4/2019)

NATO Expansion Got Some Big Things Right,” by Mike Sweeney (3/2019)

It’s Long Past Time to Stop Expanding NATO,” by Matthew Cancian and Mark Cancian (3/2019)

Implementing the Minsk Agreement Might Drive Ukraine to Civil War,” by Jonathan Brunson (1/2019)

Yes, it Is a New Cold War. What Is to Be Done?” by Raymond Smith (4/2018)

NATO’s Open Door Leads to an Identity Crisis,” by Emma Ashford (6/2016)

Radically Rethinking NATO and European Security,” by Job C. Henning and Douglas Ollivant (3/2016)

 

 

Nuclear Weapons, Security, and Arms Control

Cyber Signaling and Nuclear Deterrence: Implications for the Ukraine Crisis,” by Erica Lonergan and Keren Yarhi-Milo (4/2022)

Understanding Putin’s Nuclear Decision-Making,” by Kristin Ven Bruusgaard (3/2022)

The Fallout from Russia’s Attack on Ukrainian Nuclear Facilities,” by William Potter (3/2022)

What Would Russia’s Break with the West Mean for Nuclear Arms Control,” by Hanna Notte and Sarah Bidgood (2/2022)

Why Intermediate-Range Missiles are a Focal Point in the Ukraine Crisis,” by Brennan Deveraux (1/2022)

Escalation Management and Nuclear Employment in Russian Military Strategy,” by Michael Kofman and Anya Loukianova Fink (6/2020)

The Post-INF European Missile Balance: Thinking About NATO’s Deterrence Strategy,” by Luis Simón and Alexander Lanoszka (Texas National Security Review, 5/2020)

 

Germany Rearming?

Beware of Potemkin: Germany’s Defense Rethink Risks Reinforcing Old Habits,” by Torben Schütz, Joseph Verbovszky, and Heiko Borchert (4/2022)

How the Bundeswehr Should Spend Its Money,” by Michael Shurkin (3/2022)

Waking a Sleeping Giant: What’s Next for German Security Policy?” by Sophia Besch and Sarah Brockmeier (3/2022)

 

Energy

MEMBERS ONLY: “Europe’s Russian Gas Woes,”  with Emily Holland (4/2022)

The Urgent Case for Energy Austerity,” by Emily Holland and Marco Giuli (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “The Meaning of Biden’s Russian Energy Import Ban,” with Emily Holland (3/2022)

From Pledges to Action? Europe’s Move Away from Russian Fossil Fuels,” by Gregory Brew (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Germany Changes Course on Nordstream 2,” with Katja Yafimava (2/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Europe’s Dependence on Russian Energy,” with Emily Holland (1/2022)

Europe’s Energy Security Problem Leaves it in the Cold,” by Emily Holland (11/2021)

 

History

Lessons from the First Time Russia Accused the United States of Biowarfare,” by Conrad Crane (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “The History Behind the U.S.-Russian Showdown in Europe,” with Mary Sarotte (1/2022)

A Promising Past?Horns of a Dilemma with James Goldgeier (7/2021)

Growing and Shrinking,” Horns of a Dilemma with James Goldgeier, Alexandra Hall Hall, and Doyle Hodges (7/21)

On Kicking a Great Power When It’s Down,” by William Wohlforth (7/2020)

Promises Made, Promises Broken? What Yeltsin Was Told About NATO in 1993 and Why It Matters,” by James Goldgeier (11/2019)

Bill and Boris: A Window Into a Most Important Post-Cold War Relationship,” by James Goldgeier (Texas National Security Review, 8/2018)

Less Whole, Less Free, Less at Peace: Whither America’s Strategy for a Post-Cold War Europe,” by James Goldgeier (2/2018)

The Budapest Memorandum and the Russia-Ukraine Crisis,” by David Yost (6/2015)

 

Cyber

Gray Zone, Twilight Zone, or Danger Zone? Russian Cyber and Information Operations in Ukraine,” with Christopher Krebs and Bobby Chesney (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Russia’s Missing Cyber Capabilities,” with Rupal Mehta (3/2022)

Why Russian Cyber Dogs Have Mostly Failed to Bark,” Jelena Vićić and Rupal N. Mehta (3/2022)

Preventing Cyber Escalation in Ukraine and After,” by Jason Healey (3/2022)

There is No Cyber Shock and Awe: Plausible Threats in the Ukrainian Conflict,” by Lennart Maschmeyer and Nadiya Kostyuk (2/2022)

Great Power Cyber Party,” War on the Rocks podcast with Dmitri Alperovitch, Erica Borghard, and Jason Healey (4/2021)

 

Intelligence

Intelligence and the War in Ukraine: Part 1,” by Naveen Shaaban Abdalla, Philip H. J. Davies, Kristian Gustafson, Dan Lomas, and Steven Wagner (5/2022)

Intelligence Disclosures in the Ukraine Crisis and Beyond,” by Jake Harrington (3/2022)

Can Intelligence Tell How Far Putin Will Go?” by Calder Walton (2/2022)

 

 

Middle East Spillover

Will Western-Russian Confrontation Shake the Middle East?” by Hanna Notte (3/2022)

If Putin Stumbles, Will Erdogan Recalibrate?” by Ryan Gingeras (3/2022)

What Russia’s New Reality Means for Turkey,” by Selim Kori (2/2022)

From Ankara with Implications: Turkish Drones and Alliance Entrapment,” by Aaron Stein (12/2021)

 

Asian Echoes

MEMBERS ONLY: “A Flurry of Diplomacy Between India and America,” with Tanvi Madan (4/2022)

After Ukraine, Where Will India Buy Its Weapons?” by Vasabit Banerjee and Benjamin Tkach (4/2022)

Is India ‘Shaky’ on Ukraine? It’s Complicated,” with Tanvi Madan and Ryan Evans (4/2022)

Saving Central Asia from Putin’s Embrace,” by Gregory Gleason (4/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “China’s Approach to Russia’s War Against Ukraine,” with Yun Sun (3/2022)

MEMBERS ONLY: “India’s Russia Dilemma,” with Akriti Vasudeva (3/2022)

 

Russian and Ukrainian Politics

A Ukrainian State of Mind,” by Siamak Tundra Naficy (4/2022)

The Deadly Business of Dissent in Russia,” Horns of a Dilemma with Russian politician Vladimir Kara-Murza (2/2022)

How to Stabilize Ukraine Long Term? Securitize Well-Being,” by Cynthia Buckley, Ralph Clem, and Erik Herron (12/2019)

MEMBERS ONLY: “Ukraine’s Comic-Turned-Candidate Becomes President: What’s Next?” with Jonathan Brunson (4/2019)

Russia Isn’t the Only Threat to Ukrainian Democracy: The Impact of Far-Right Nationalist Revolutionaries,” by Jonathan Brunson (4/2019)

A Tangled Web: Organized Crime and Oligarchy in Putin’s Russia,” by Louise Shelley (11/2018)

 

 

Is Putin a Good Strategist?

When Strongmen Invade, They Bring Their Pathologies With Them,” by Akar Bharadvaj and Kevin Woods (5/2022)

Putin the Planner,” by Andrew Goodman (4/2022)

Dealing with Putin’s Strategic Incompetence,” by Joshua Rovner (8/2015)

Putin is a Far Better Strategist Than You Think,” by Michael Kofman (9/2015)

Searching for Strategy in Putin’s Russia,” by Joshua Rovner (9/2015)

 

China’s Lessons

Beijing’s Ukrainian Battle Lab,” by David Finkelstein (5/2022)

From Ukraine and Beyond: Unpacking the Sino-Russian Relationship,” with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlow, Christopher Preble, and Doyle Hodges (4/2022)

Eight New Points on the Porcupine: More Ukrainian Lessons for Taiwan,” by Andrew Erickson and Gabriel Collins (4/2022)

Ukraine Shows Why Taiwan Needs More Air Defense,” by Harry Halem and Eyck Freymann (4/2022)

Leaderless, Cut Off, and Alone: The Risks to Taiwan in the Wake of Ukraine,” by Evan Montgomery and Toshi Yoshihara (4/2022)

Taiwan is Not Ukraine: Stop Linking Their Fates Together,” by Kharis Templeman (1/2022)

 

Latin American Ties

Explaining Latin America’s Contradictory Reactions to the War in Ukraine,” by J. Luis Rodriguez (4/2022)

 

 

Image: Government of Ukraine