February 22, 2024

ICDS-ROLES Expert Dialogue: Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On 20 February, a distinguished delegation from the Japanese think tank ROLES’ task force “Trends of Freedom and Democracy in Central, Eastern Europe and the Balkans” visited the ICDS for a roundtable.

The expert discussion was held in light of the third year of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. Not only did 24 February 2022 disrupt the security order in Europe but also served as a wake-up call to democracies in the Indo-Pacific region. The Japanese think-tankers acknowledged that one cannot understand this war, as well as Russia’s actions and intentions in and beyond it, without input from the eastern and central European nations, who have had first-hand knowledge and experience of being on the frontlines.

The second year of the war started with Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, highlighting the evolving Sino-Russian strategic partnership. As we approach the second sad anniversary of the full-scale invasion, North Korea continues to provide weapons to Russia despite UNSC violations. These now present a complicated triangle relationship, with the Japanese expertise and perspective on it, likewise, very much valued in Europe. Moreover, Hamas’s attack on Israel and the latter’s retaliation have introduced a new – Middle Eastern – dimension to the international discourse.

The largest war in post-WWII Europe has led to the enlargement of NATO in the Nordic-Baltic region while giving impetus to the US-led trilateral security cooperation in East Asia. Ukraine’s counteroffensive encountered challenges, with war fatigue taking a toll both within the country and among its international partners. Estonia and Japan, however, continue to stand united, sharing fundamental values and serving as leading supporters of Ukraine in Europe and Asia. Ukraine’s path to victory hinges on strong and sustained military and economic support from its Western partners, whereas Russia’s defeat is now being impeded by Iran’s and North Korea’s supply of weapons and ammunition.

2024 is marked by crucial national elections – having already started in Taiwan in January and yet to culminate in the US in November. Uncertainties already loom over the continued US support for Ukraine, its engagement on the European continent, and its global posture.

In this context, experts from both countries convened to share their perspectives, explore potential collaborations, and contribute to a deeper understanding of nuances in each country and their respective regions, as well as broader challenges that lie ahead.

The Japanese delegation was headed by Professor Atsuko Higashino (University of Tsukuba; EU enlargement), with eight other leading Japanese experts in diverse fields: EU, NATO, security and arms control, intelligence, history and memory, Baltic region, Russia, Ukraine, China, and the Middle East.

Members of the delegation:1) Ms. Atsuko Higashino, Professor in the Faculty of International Studies, University of Tsukuba (Head of the Delegation)2) Mr. Tsuyoshi Goroku, Associate Professor of International Relations, Nishogakusha University3) Mr. Sanshiro Hosaka, Research Fellow, The International Centre for Defence and Security (Tallinn) / University of Tartu4) Mr. Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo5) Mr. Shin Kawashima, Professor of the Department of International Relations, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, The University of Tokyo6) Mr. Yu Koizumi, Associate Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo7) Mr. Norito Kunisue, Project Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo8) Mr. Yoshihisa Nishiyama, Project research associate, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo9) Mr. Yuma Tanaka, Project researcher, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo10) Mr. Arihiro Oki, Undergraduate student, The University of Tokyo  (Assistant)11) Mr. Takumi Hirata, a 1st-year student in the M.A. program, Waseda University, Graduate School of Political Science (Assistant)

The roundtable concluded with everyone agreeing that Russia must not be allowed to win this war.

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