Vol. 58, No. 1

In this edition

With the United States facing more global threats than perhaps at any time since the end of World War II, The Ripon Forum caught up with House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul to get his read on these threats and the steps he believes Congress should take to confront them.

Protecting Our Kids from Social Media

Online platforms must be responsible for the content provided to our youth and tools must be in place to prevent harm.

The Role of NASA in the Age of Elon Musk

The private sector is playing an increasingly important role in space exploration. But the federal government still has a mission to perform, as well.

Conservatives Must Seize the Opportunity to Lead on Education. Here’s How…

Democrats have fumbled their lead on education. But outside of school choice, Republicans have put forward few solutions to fill the policy vacuum.

Everyday Freedom: Designing the Framework for a Flourishing Society

In his latest book, good government expert Philip Howard argues that America is facing a bigger problem than mere bureaucratic dysfunction.

The Obesity Epidemic: What Americans Can Do

What will it take to solve the obesity crisis — increased personal responsibility or policy, systems, and environmental changes?

The Illegal Immigration Election

The crisis at the southern border has given the OP an opportunity to show they can make a difference. Will they wait until next year to do so?


If it’s hard keeping up with the Foreign Affairs Chairman, it’s because the world is on fire, and he’s trying to keep things from burning out of control.

Russia’s Crimean Gambit: Ten Years after the Invasion

Hindsight is 20/20, but the warning signs were visible from the start of Ukraine’s independence that Russia was not reconciled to this realignment.

NATO At 75: Can Europe Defend Itself Without U.S. Support?

America’s transatlantic allies have responded to recent threats with unity and a recommitment to defense. But can they go it alone?

The Prospects for Peace in Ukraine

Two years into the war between Ukraine and Russia, the chance of a negotiated settlement appear as elusive as the declaration of victory by either side.

Obamacare Has Been a Success, and It’s Just the Start

In the nearly 14 years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, we’ve seen dozens of legislative attempts to repeal it—all to no avail.

Obamacare has Three Key Failings and Needs To be Reformed

To fix Obamacare, it’s important to first take stock of its three key failings.

Ripon Profile of Lori Chavez-DeRemer

Lori Chavez-DeRemer explains why she doesn’t view compromise as a dirty word.

The Prospects for Peace in Ukraine

As we approach the two-year mark of Russia’s illegal large-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia controls almost 18 percent of Ukrainian territory, which is the equivalent of about 25,000 square miles.  They have illegally annexed all or part of five Ukrainian regions: Luhansk, Donetsk, Crimea, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

By late summer 2023, Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive had broken against strong Russian defenses in the east and south with only minimal gains of about 200 square miles, primarily in the Zaporizhzhia region in Ukraine’s south.  By December, they were switching to the defensive.  Meanwhile, Russian forces made equally minimal territorial gains in the east, near the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region.

As ground forces continue slugging it out with little evident progress, action has switched to other areas. In the Black Sea, Ukraine is beating the Russian navy, succeeding in restoring the use of the port of Odesa, and creating a shipping corridor for sea traffic. Ukraine is also successfully launching drone and artillery attacks against Russian territory, including facilities as far from Ukraine as the Baltic Sea.  Russia, as they did last winter, is focusing its effort on air attacks against Ukrainian cities and critical civilian infrastructure.

Ukrainian missile defenses, like the U.S.-supplied Patriots, have succeeded thus far in limiting the damage of mass Russian attacks, but if the Patriot supply were to run out, the consequences for Ukrainian civilians would be catastrophic.  The fighting continues, but there has been very little exchange of territory in the past year.  This has led some to argue the war is at a stalemate. But that perception is inaccurate.

By definition, a stalemate is “a situation in which further action or progress by opposing or competing parties seems impossible.”  That is not what exists in Ukraine.

By definition, a stalemate is “a situation in which further action or progress by opposing or competing parties seems impossible.”  That is not what exists in Ukraine.  If Ukraine receives the promised U.S. and other NATO supplies of weapons and ammunition, Ukrainian armed forces can rebuild and go back on the offensive.  Russian President Vladimir Putin also believes he can still win.  The key, to him, is simply waiting out the United States and other supporters of Ukraine, who, he believes, will grow tired and frustrated and give up.

The absence of a stalemate (or a clear victory by either side) means the prospects of a negotiated peace are slim.  Russia is loath to quit when it believes victory is just a matter of time.  Ukraine cannot concede because doing so would mean the end of their state and the spread of horrors like those seen in Bucha and the currently occupied territories.

Despite the slim chances for an agreement, both Russia and Ukraine have talked about a negotiated peace.  Believing that victory is possible, Putin goes back and forth in his public positions on a negotiated settlement to the war.  But one element remains consistent – any negotiation acceptable to the Kremlin would lock in the gains Russia has made.  In essence, Russia demands a negotiated Ukrainian surrender, not a negotiated peace treaty.

This was most evident recently when Bloomberg published an article alleging the Kremlin had sent out peace feelers to U.S. officials suggesting Moscow might accept Ukrainian membership in NATO in exchange for keeping the territory it had illegally annexed.  (Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitriy Peskov subsequently denied this.) Putin’s most recent public statement on peace, made at his annual end-of-year press conference on December 13, was:  “There will be peace when we achieve our goals. Let’s return to these goals.  They have not changed. I’ll remind you of what we talked about then – the denazification of Ukraine, its demilitarization, its neutral status.”

If Ukraine receives the promised U.S. and other NATO supplies of weapons and ammunition, Ukrainian armed forces can rebuild and go back on the offensive.

In contrast, President Zelenskyy and his team are advancing their vision of a just and sustainable peace agreement.  Zelenskyy’s peace formula, presented at the November 2022 G-20 Summit, lays out 10 points that must be addressed to ensure peace in Ukraine, ranging from nuclear security to a final peace treaty.  Since then, Ukraine has been working to build global consensus behind their formula through a series of conferences in Copenhagen, Jeddah, Malta, and Davos.  Ukraine hopes the meetings will culminate in a summit of world leaders who commit to these principles.  This approach is vital for Ukraine, since Zelenskyy believes, no doubt correctly, that direct negotiation with Putin is impossible.  International support and mediation will be vital for peace.

Putin’s continued war of aggression is predicated upon the belief that the United States’ resolve is weakening.  While it is impossible to overestimate the extent to which Putin is obsessed with Russian control over Ukraine, this war is not just about Ukraine.  It is about Putin’s vision of a new world order – a world order of chaos and conflict, which would threaten U.S. economic interests and risk sucking the United States into other conflicts throughout the globe.

The international community – and especially the United States – is vital for the achievement of a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine.  Ukraine needs U.S. diplomatic support to isolate Putin and convince him his world order is unattainable.  Ukraine needs U.S. military support to defend its people and show Russia that military victory is too costly.  And Ukraine needs U.S. economic and social support to help maintain social cohesion and resilience among the Ukrainian people.  Doing so is certainly a significant expense for the American taxpayer.  Not doing so could lead to even greater costs in the future.

Mary Glantz, PhD, serves as Acting Director of the Center for Russia and Europe at the United States Institute of Peace.