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Stockholm International Peace Research Institute provides analysis on the war in Ukraine

Nearly two years have passed since Russia initiated its full-scale conflict with Ukraine. The consequences of this conflict have reverberated throughout various sectors, including ecology, energy, finance, food, geopolitics, and humanitarian concerns. In this report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) provides an analysis of the broader impact of the Ukrainian war.
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Nearly two years have passed since Russia initiated its full-scale conflict with Ukraine. The consequences of this conflict have reverberated throughout various sectors, including ecology, energy, finance, food, geopolitics, and humanitarian concerns (Picture source: Ukrinform)

Nuclear security during armed conflict

In March this year, SIPRI published two reports that address nuclear security in Ukraine. ‘Nuclear Security During Armed Conflict: Lessons From Ukraine’, by Senior Researcher Vitaly Fedchenko, reflects on the unprecedented attacks on nuclear installations in Ukraine by the Russian military in 2022. International armed conflict creates new circumstances in which a national nuclear security regime must operate. The paper presents three areas where the nuclear security framework can be strengthened and prepared for extraordinary events, including armed conflict.

The partner paper ‘Nuclear Security in Ukraine and the Black Sea Region: New Threats, New Risks, New Consequences’ discusses the changes needed in the national nuclear security regimes of Ukraine and the other states in the Black Sea region and how officials propose to address them.

For SIPRI’s social media audiences, the institute produced a map that detailed Russia’s military attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. The map used data from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The map provided a visual representation of how, since 2022, all of Ukraine’s major nuclear facilities have been attacked, occupied, annexed or otherwise disrupted by Russia’s military. The visualization accompanied the SIPRI report ‘Nuclear Security During Armed Conflict: Lessons From Ukraine’.

Insights into Russia’s military spending

Professor Julian Cooper analysed Russia’s military spending and its economic impact in this Insights paper, published in June 2023. Professor Cooper concludes that the increase in Russia’s military expenditure since February 2022 is significant but not dramatic. The Russian government is attempting to restrain spending on the war to minimize the domestic impact and enable the pursuit of policy goals set before the invasion. The Russian economy can afford this level of spending notwithstanding severe sanctions, while leaving open the possibility of increased war-related funding if the government considers it necessary in the future.

The paper is a follow-up to a SIPRI report published in October 2022 that analysed Russia’s military spending from the scarce information provided by the Russian government.

A third paper by Professor Cooper was published in December 2023 following new federal budget plans for 2024–26 that were signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on 27 November 2023. Under those plans, Russia’s military and war-related spending is set to rise sharply in 2024. According to Professor Cooper’s analysis, the plans suggest that the Russian government is committed to pursuing the war to a successful conclusion but are based on questionable economic assumptions.

The impact on local and global food security

SIPRI has published a series of blog posts over the past two years about the impact of the Ukraine war on local and global food security, under the collective title ‘War in the breadbasket’.

Dr Caroline Delgado, Director of SIPRI’s Food, Peace and Security Programme, wrote the first blog post two months after Russia’s shift to full-scale war. With a focus on the link between hunger and conflict, the blog warns that the knock-on effects of the war on the food markets are likely to aggravate rising food insecurity and food prices.

‘War in the breadbasket: The impacts of the war in Ukraine on food security and stability in Lebanon’, by SIPRI Researchers Dr Kristina Tschunkert and Amal Bourhrous, tackles the impact of the war on the Middle East and North Africa, which had been buying more than 50 per cent of Ukraine’s total wheat supply. The fallout from the war in Ukraine poses a serious threat to food security in Lebanon, which could have devastating humanitarian consequences.

The third blog in the series, by Marie Riquier, Research Assistant in SIPRI’s Food, Peace and Security Programme, discusses the implications of the war for global hunger and humanitarian actors. Humanitarian actors, who are already stretched, are now facing both food shortages and rising food prices.

‘War in the breadbasket: One year in’ reflects on how the risks have played out. The authors write, ‘Global food security has rapidly deteriorated . . . Few, if any, parts of the world have been left unaffected due to the vital role Ukraine and Russia play in producing food traded on the global food markets and for use by the major humanitarian agencies, such as the World Food Programme.’ The authors emphasize the need to treat food security as an issue of global stability.

The most recent blog post in the series, published in November 2023, explored the impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war on Ukraine’s food production. Fortunately, it seems that Ukraine has ample resources to deal with this issue, although one of the primary challenges now lies in effectively harnessing and coordinating these resources. The authors urge the Ukrainian government to focus on coordination and streamlining the accreditation process to improve the availability of competent, officially recognized mine action services and reduce the risks to farmers from ineffective work by untrained and unofficial demining surveys.

Concerning ecological impacts

The devastating ecological impact of the war in Ukraine is the focus of a topical backgrounder by SIPRI Researcher Dr Jiayi Zhou and Dr Ian Anthony, former Director of SIPRI’s European Security Programme. The backgrounder notes that Ukrainian authorities, civil society and international partners are responding vigorously to the ecological challenges, by drawing attention to the ecological impacts of the war and by recording and measuring them. On this basis, these actors are pursuing accountability and restitution, and laying the groundwork for a green reconstruction. As well as benefiting Ukraine itself, all this could set positive precedents for and strengthen international mechanisms to account for, remediate and perhaps even prevent environmental crimes and damage related to armed conflict.

Beyond borders

In this blog, Anastasia Cucino, Intern with the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme, and Lorenzo Scarazzato, Research Assistant in the same programme, look at Poland’s perception that there is an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen its position and achieve its ambitions in the arms industry. The authors conclude that Poland’s arms industry has seen significant growth as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine. With a focus on modernization and diversification, Poland aims to move beyond its Soviet-era legacy and become a significant player in the global arms market.

Liberal peacebuilding

The liberal peacebuilding model has unquestionably been one of the primary approaches to building peace in the post-Cold war era. It is founded on two ideas: that conflicts are less likely to occur in liberal states that uphold democratic systems, minimize state intervention and support individual freedoms; and that the path to sustainable development involves strengthening the interplay between peace, democracy and a market economy. This blog, which is one in a series of guest blog posts from partners of the 2023 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, asks if any insights from its application could be useful for Ukraine’s stabilization and recovery once the war there ends.

The role of the European Union Advisory Mission in Ukraine

The SIPRI Peace Operations and Conflict Management Programme has been examining the current and future role of the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Ukraine as part of its research project on EU civilian crisis management. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine (including the run-up to it) caused a temporary drop in the number of permanently seconded personnel in EUAM Ukraine, one of the largest civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions at the time. EUAM Ukraine may need additional human resources to implement its tasks as its mandate was already adapted twice to align better with the needs of its Ukrainian counterparts in the context of Russia’s continued aggression. More information is available in the report ‘New Compact, Renewed Impetus: Enhancing the EU’s Ability to Act Through its Civilian CSDP’.

Defense News December 2023

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