“Will to Fight”

Twenty-First-Century Insights from the Russo-Ukrainian War


Benjamin A. Okonofua, PhD
Nicole Laster-Loucks, PhD
Lt. Col. Andrew Johnson, U.S. Army, Retired


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A member of a Ukrainian special police unit falls after firing a D-30 howitzer toward Russian positions near Kreminna, Ukraine, on 7 July 2023

We are waging a war against the country whose size is 28 times larger than ours, whose population is 4 times larger than ours, and whose military capabilities are many times greater than ours. We are waging a war by land, air, sea, cyberspace, etc. We have been at war not for 8 months, but for 8 years and 8 months. All this testifies to our resilience, courage to defend our own, and the will to win. Would other countries withstand such pressure? … I don’t know about others, but we are holding on, regrouping, building up reserves, strengthening the defence, and gradually liberating our homeland. The victory is given to us very hard. But it will definitely be secured.

—Valerii Zuluzhnyi, Former Commander in Chief, Armed Forces of Ukraine, 31 October 2022


The 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War is a complex and enduring confrontation that warrants a nuanced exploration of the forces driving the determination, capacity, and narrative of the warring parties. These forces coalesce to produce a “will to fight,” an often underestimated component in the annals of warfare and strategic defense. It develops at the individual level, extends to the national level, and is necessary to win.1

At its core, the will to fight in this conflict can be understood as a composite of psychological resilience, physical capability and capacity, and ideological conviction (see figure 1). These dimensions continually evolve or change because of the interplay between unique opposing forces. Each of these dimensions plays a pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of the conflict, influencing both the strategies employed and the tenacity displayed by the involved nations.


The historical significance of a resolute will to fight is vividly illustrated by the United States’ strategic evolution during World War II. Upon entering the conflict, the United States lacked a clear vision of victory. A crucial shift occurred in 1942 when U.S. leadership, considering military strengths, the global strategic context, and a moral imperative to overcome fascism, committed to the ambitious goal of the complete and unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. This resolve was publicly affirmed at the 1943 Casablanca Conference, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced there would be no peace negotiations, only the pursuit of unconditional surrender. This stance, reinforcing the national will to fight alongside superior military resources, was instrumental in securing victory.2 Conversely, the conflicts in Vietnam and Iraq highlight the critical role of assessing the will to fight within both allies and adversaries. In Vietnam, the United States encountered tenacious resistance from the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, who were deeply committed to defending their country and opposing foreign forces. This determination significantly contributed to the protraction of the conflict, despite the United States’ superior military resources.3 Similarly, in Iraq, the resilience and dedication to the cause of insurgent groups, combined with unclear strategic goals by the United States and its allies, led to extended engagements and mixed results.4

These cases emphasize the complexity of military engagements, where the psychological and ideological components of warfare are as crucial as the physical aspects. They underscore the crucial role of the will to fight alongside military capabilities in determining conflict outcomes. This concept, embodying determination, resilience, and resolve, often decisively influences engagement results beyond mere military strength.5 Recognizing the multifaceted nature of the will to fight—spanning psychological, physical, and ideological aspects—is essential for leaders, policymakers, planners, and scholars. The subsequent analysis of these dimensions within the Russo-Ukrainian War context aims to dissect the complex interplay of factors driving this protracted conflict, illustrating how these elements of resolve, which are not static, evolve over time and dynamically interact to impact the ongoing military engagements. Understanding these dynamics is vital for comprehending the motivations and actions of involved parties, highlighting the significance of the will to fight in shaping conflict trajectories.

Psychological Will to Fight

The psychological will to fight or the determination to persist in combat plays a crucial role in maintaining resolve beyond the limits of territorial divisions. It encompasses a range of interactive factors, including morale, leadership, cohesion, and motivation, which collectively drive militaries and civilians to persevere amid adversity.

In any conflict, the strength of a nation’s resolve is often propelled by psychological factors. Morale, the sense of purpose, and individual determination play critical roles in enabling forces to transcend physical limitations. Leadership and cohesion further enhance the mental fortitude and cognitive determination of soldiers and civilians, fostering resilience in the face of combat adversity. For example, facing difficult odds at the Battle of Stalingrad, Soviet soldiers displayed unyielding determination, fortified by leaders like Gen. Georgy Zhukov, which increased their resilience and eventually shifted the battle in their favor.6

Various internal and external factors continually influence the psychological will to fight. Understanding this dimension provides essential insights into the dynamics that determine the endurance and success of military engagements, making it a pivotal aspect of resolve and occasionally the tipping point in any conflict.

Russia’s psychological will to fight. Understanding the psychological dimension of Russia’s will to fight in the ongoing conflict is crucial for comprehending the dynamics of the war. Initially, Moscow framed the war as a “special military operation” (SMO) to propagate Kremlin narratives of denazification and demilitarization, downplay the risks to Russian forces and Ukrainian society, and bolster confidence in Russian military superiority. However, battlefield realities shattered these expectations. Russian troops faced significant casualties and equipment losses, particularly among elite units like Spetznaz (special operations) and airborne troops. Some soldiers were misled; believing they were deploying for exercises, they found themselves in combat in Ukraine. Additionally, SMO objectives such as the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine were revealed as Kremlin disinformation. These factors likely contributed to a diminishing psychological will to fight among Russian troops.

Moreover, Russia’s informational asymmetry (overestimating its strength and underestimating Ukrainian capabilities) created a significant expectancy violation (see breakout box on page 39).7 The Kremlin’s narratives of military power, backed by visible displays of forces and equipment, initially boosted confidence but were challenged by the realities of combat in Ukraine.8 Over time, many Russians began questioning the war’s rationale and their belief in Russian military prowess.9 Information discrepancies between the official narratives and soldiers’ experiences on the battlefield further eroded the will to fight, leading to a desire to surrender or escape combat.10

The Kremlin’s efforts to mobilize citizen support by framing the conflict as defending the motherland against an “evil” foreign threat faced challenges in maintaining control over the information space.11 Reports of Russian “barrier troops” to stop unauthorized withdrawals underscored command anxiety over the will to fight.12 While domestic Russian support has eroded gradually from its high in the mid-80 percent of people polled, a majority still backs the war (see figure 2).13 However, growing awareness of the war’s realities has dampened public confidence, increased disenchantment, and caused troops’ will to fight to decline.14 Despite ongoing efforts by President Vladimir Putin, heavy-casualty-producing attacks continue to impact troop morale, hindering their effectiveness.15


Ukraine’s psychological will to fight. The psychological dimension of Ukraine’s will to fight in the ongoing conflict showcases a remarkable resilience and determination among Ukrainian forces and civilians. The war, which began with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the conflict in the Donbas region, profoundly influenced Ukrainian national identity and resolve. Ukrainians confronted Russian aggression and aspirations to reestablish regional dominance, galvanizing a collective war mentality against an existential threat to Ukrainian statehood.16

Numerous polls indicate that nearly all Ukrainians believe in victory over Russia. This support is particularly robust in regions farther from the front lines, the west and center, and slightly weaker in areas closer to the conflict in the south and east. Opposition to Russian aggression existed long before the 2022 invasion, as a majority consistently demanded the liberation of all Russia-occupied territories.17

As Russia’s military operation in Ukraine continues, Russian radiation, chemical, and biological defense troops of the Southern Military District watch an online broadcast of President Vladimir Putin’s annual address to the Federal Assembly on a laptop at an unknown location

However, it is essential to acknowledge that the initial enthusiasm for volunteering to fight Russia has waned as the war has entered has entered its third year with escalating casualities and no clear end in sight. This shift led the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) to depend more on conscription and to relax certain nonqualifying conditions for enlistment.18 While these changes reflect the evolving nature of the conflict, they do not diminish the overall psychological will to fight.

Physical Will to Fight

The physical will to fight is critical to a country’s determination to persist during conflict, transcending national boundaries. It encompasses the capability and capacity to initiate and sustain engagements underpinned by factors such as training, leadership, equipment, personnel, and logistics. In any armed confrontation, effectively employing military resources is a crucial and decisive component for victory.

Capability includes training and leadership, while capacity includes personnel and materiel. Both are pivotal in shaping the physical will to fight by enhancing combat effectiveness, bolstering resources, and increasing the resolve of military personnel. Militaries are capable when resourced with a proper level of competence to compete. Additionally, adequate personnel, equipment, logistics, and support contribute to a nation’s physical capacity to engage in protracted conflicts. The Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC exemplifies this, wherein a vastly outnumbered Spartan army led by King Leonidas demonstrated exceptional physical resilience and combat acumen against a vastly superior Persian foe.19 Yet, as shown by the Islamic State’s triumph over a better-resourced Iraqi Army in 2015, physical capacity—in isolation—will not ensure victory.20

Thus, understanding the physical will to fight offers invaluable insights into a nation’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity. It underscores the intricate dynamics that determine the success or failure of military endeavors, making it an essential dimension of resolve in any conflict scenario.

Russia’s physical will to fight. Russia’s excessive confidence in its military superiority in terms of forces, firepower, and information control, relative to its smaller but well-led, trained, and motivated Ukrainian adversary, led to the failure of its initial objectives and necessitated a reassessment of strategy and tactics. The SMO exposed significant deficiencies in Russian military capabilities spanning tactics, training, logistics, and leadership. These shortcomings resulted in substantial casualties and equipment losses, ultimately eroding the Russian military’s will to fight.


Since the February 2022 invasion, Russian forces have consistently underperformed against their Ukrainian counterparts despite having superior resources and firepower (see figure 3).21 Russia’s military had engaged in a decade-long modernization program, allocating a substantial portion of its military budget to arms procurement and a significant share of its GDP to defense.22 However, persistent deficiencies, including inadequate war planning, resourcing, and execution, have resulted in battlefield failures.23 Russia reverted to Soviet-style tactics after its initial failure to rapidly force Kyiv’s capitulation through environment preparation followed by swift military actions.24 Russian tactics have since shifted toward identifying weak points in Ukrainian lines and exploiting them, with some success. However, Russian reliance on brute-force tactics combined with the determined resistance of Ukrainian forces, lack of initiative by low-level leadership, and insufficient training contributed to significant Russian casualties and equipment losses. Additionally, the combination of poor logistics and limited medical support has kept the Russian military’s will to fight in a weakened state, predominantly bolstered by military leadership from the top-down rather than at the troop level.25

The absorption of substantial personnel and equipment losses, even among elite units like Spetznaz and airborne troops, sends the message that the Russian command is willing to accept these costs, potentially undermining the will to fight among both troops and the broader public.26 A recent reorganization of Russian infantry forces aimed at conserving more elite troops has bolstered the will to fight in higher-tier formations but undermined the lower-tier infantry’s resolve, as they perceive themselves as expendable.27 Despite heavy casualties, Russia’s significant population advantage over Ukraine has provided a larger pool of replacements for battlefield losses. However, increasing casualty figures have placed political pressure on Putin and impacted soldier morale.28

Inadequately trained new troops, particularly conscripts and hastily mobilized mobiki (Russian reservists), have contributed to the high casualty figures. Both Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have reported that Russian replacements arrive on the battlefield with as little as two weeks of training and often with outdated weapons and equipment. Intercepted communications record Russian soldiers and leaders complaining about ammunition shortages, lack of spare parts, inadequate food, and insufficient battlefield medical support.29 In peacetime, the absence of adequate training, equipment, and support already negatively affects morale, which is further amplified in combat situations, occasionally resulting in Russian troops refusing to fight.30

Ukraine’s physical will to fight. Over the years, the UAF’s transformation has been a remarkable evolution from a Soviet-style, command-heavy force with antiquated equipment into a modern, adaptable Western-style force. While still militarily weaker than Russia in measurable capacity, Ukraine’s commitment to rebuilding its armed forces, with support from the United States and NATO, has significantly boosted its physical will to fight.31

Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine has received substantial foreign support in terms of training, weaponry, and institution building, especially from the United States and other NATO countries. This assistance has enabled Ukraine to develop a professional military with enhanced institutional capacity, leadership, and access to modern equipment.32 However, external support before the invasion did not immediately result in battlefield success. Initially, heavy casualties, logistical issues, delays in weapon deliveries, poor communication, and reliance on outdated Soviet-style leadership and tactics by senior leaders dampened morale.33

Nonetheless, continued support from the West has augmented and improved UAF capacity and capability. Training programs encompassing advanced weapon systems (e.g., Patriot, HIMARS, M-1 Abrams tanks, and Leopard tanks), combined arms tactics, and mission command principles provided Ukrainian soldiers with a diverse skill set for modern warfare.34 Notably, transitioning from a rigid top-down command structure to a more flexible mission command approach has empowered field- and company-grade leaders to show initiative and make quicker decisions on the battlefield.35

Another critical factor contributing to the UAF’s success and elevated morale is the development of a competent Ukrainian noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps. This transformation aligns with Western military practices, promoting independence and initiative among smaller units. The newfound agency of individual Ukrainian soldiers, fostered by NCO-led units employing mission command principles, has notably boosted morale when compared to the rigid, centralized approach favored by the Russian military.36

Nevertheless, Ukraine still faces physical challenges. Heavy casualties continue to attrit its experienced soldiers and leaders. As time passes and casualties rise, addressing troop shortages becomes increasingly difficult as Ukraine’s population is a quarter that of Russia’s (see figure 4).37 The conflict’s protracted nature has led to a shortage of seasoned troops, with replacements often lacking experience and adequate training due to the exigencies of the conflict.38 Estimates reveal staggering figures of casualties, both killed and wounded, underscoring the toll war has taken on Ukraine.39


Supply shortages remain a concern. Despite becoming the third-largest global arms importer in 2022, Ukraine still grapples with Soviet-era equipment, ammunition shortages, and the challenge of integrating modern weaponry effectively.40 These factors, when combined with the lack of combat experience among new troops, can impact their will to fight and overall effectiveness.41

Ideological Will to Fight

The ideological will to fight is a distinct and vital factor in perseverance during conflicts, surpassing the limits imposed by national identity. It is the combatant’s science of ideas from a particular political or religious belief system from which narratives are constructed to justify and motivate engagement in armed conflicts.42 These narratives often portray combatants as defenders against perceived threats, invoking historical sentiments and reinforcing beliefs that underpin the cause and emanate from social conditions that are vulnerable to protest. In this sense, religious institutions often play a pivotal role in providing ideological justifications for conflicts, framing them as sacred struggles. Thus, whether religious, as seen in some of the Crusades of the Middle Ages or the Islamic State’s pursuit of an Islamic caliphate, or politically driven such as the Russian Revolution or Nazi Fascism, this element can be the primary motivator in conflict.43

However, the extent to which an ideological narrative resonates with the population as a belief system can vary widely, with the depth of religious or political commitment influencing individual and collective resolve. Understanding the ideological will to fight offers valuable insights into the complexities of resolve, shedding light on the delicate interplay between narratives, historical sentiments, and religious influences in the context of armed conflicts.

Russia’s ideological will to fight. The ideological dimension of the Russian will to fight is closely intertwined with the narrative of the conflict and the role of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The Kremlin’s justification for the SMO portrays Russian soldiers as defenders of their motherland against an evil enemy, framed within the context of preserving Russian identity and Orthodox Christian civilization. This narrative effectively stirs historical Russian hatred of Nazism and reinforces perceptions of the threat to Russian citizens in Ukraine and Russia from the West. The ROC plays a pivotal role in this narrative, providing religious legitimization for the conflict and framing it as a holy struggle akin to the Great Patriotic War (World War II). The narratives from the Kremlin and the ROC likely have bolstered domestic support for the SMO.44

Despite the Kremlin’s efforts to cultivate ideological support for the war, there exists a significant gap between identification with these narratives and religious practice within Russia, particularly within the Russian military. While the ROC endorses the government’s narrative and encourages the faithful to endorse the “holy” war, the skepticism toward religion within the Russian military remains relevant. This skepticism is rooted in the historical association of the ROC leadership with the Kremlin, which often leads soldiers to view religious promises as hollow and insincere.45

Ukraine’s ideological will to fight. The Ukrainian will to fight is less ideological than it is psychological. The ideological element is rather small comparatively. Ukrainians are primarily motivated to fight Russian forces for political, social, and rational reasons instead of religious reasons (see figure 5). The Kremlin’s attempts to use the ROC to sway Ukrainian sentiment and gather intelligence on the Ukrainian military have yielded an unexpected outcome. It has led to a rejection of the Moscow Patriarchate’s control of Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine by the Ukrainian government and a significant portion of the population.


The Kremlin’s strategy of advancing the concept of a greater ethnocultural Russian state, Russkiy Mir (Russian World), to unite Russians and their compatriots has faced staunch resistance in Ukraine.46 The Ukrainian Security Service has conducted investigations into pro-Russian Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) entities, accusing them of spreading Russian propaganda and disinformation, potentially collecting intelligence on the Ukrainian military. This scrutiny has led the Ukrainian government to limit UOC influence and bolstered popular anti-Russian sentiment.47

In response to Russia’s aggression, Orthodox Ukrainians have distanced themselves from the Moscow Patriarchate, transferring their allegiance to churches not under its authority, including the growing UOC. Markedly, Kyiv’s decision to shift the celebration of Christmas from the traditional Orthodox date of 7 January to 25 December further underscores the resistance to Moscow Patriarchate tradition. This shift represents a direct response by Ukrainians to Russia’s attack on their territory, ethnic identity, and values.48


The Russo-Ukrainian War offers a vivid lesson on the dynamics of the will to fight. While material capabilities are crucial in modern warfare, the spirit, resilience, and commitment of a people to defend their homeland, as Ukraine has demonstrated, can profoundly shape the course of a conflict. Policymaking and planning must go beyond mere assessments of Russian and Ukrainian military capacity and capability and incorporate a deeper understanding of the psychological and social factors that drive their will to fight, especially as both nations exhibit significant, albeit diverse, motivations in their desire to prevail.

Russia’s will to fight originates mainly from the top down, influenced by a Kremlin-controlled information milieu and bolstered by its vast resources. Although the Kremlin exploits the Russian Orthodox Church, ideological motivations are not the primary driving force for either side in this war.

Ukraine’s will to fight emanates from a profound psychological and nationalistic source, supported by both its military and populace. The existential threat posed by Russia fuels Ukraine’s determination, amplified by the reality of defending its homeland. Ukraine holds the psychological upper hand, but it grapples with tangible challenges to its will to fight, particularly in materiel and troop reinforcement, whereas Russia’s larger economy and population provide it an advantage. Ukraine’s ability to continue to fight hinges on the West’s continued materiel support and its dwindling pool of recruitable citizens. The unfolding Russo-Ukrainian War suggests several lessons that can guide U.S. and allied military decision-makers in planning for future large-scale combat operations and other types of conflict:

Underestimating resilience. One of the significant lessons from the conflict is the danger of underestimating a nation’s resilience and will to fight based on material assessments. Russia, with its superior military might, faced stiffer resistance than anticipated due to the strong will of the Ukrainian defense forces and citizens.

Moral high ground. A nation or group that believes it holds the moral high ground can demonstrate an outsized will to fight. For many Ukrainians, the defense of their homeland is seen in moralistic terms, which further fuels their resolve.

International solidarity. The will to fight is not just a domestic phenomenon. International support, both moral and material, can bolster the spirit of a nation under threat. Ukraine’s ability to garner international sympathy and support plays a role in sustaining its will to fight.

Limitations of soft power. While “soft power” strategies like information warfare, propaganda, and economic pressure are essential in modern conflicts, the Russo-Ukrainian War underscores that these cannot easily erode a determined will to fight.

Implications for the U.S. Army

The psychological element of the will to fight is a tipping point. The psychological will to fight, intrinsically tied to physical capacity, is paramount. When external support is held constant, internal resolve becomes the game-changer. Even for the U.S. Army, material support alone is not sufficient; fostering psychological resilience is an intrinsic and vital factor in achieving objectives during large-scale combat operations (LSCO). Partnering with allies like Ukraine potentially offers valuable insights for the U.S. Army to bolster its training and morale-building strategies.

Ukraine’s staunch resistance, even when outmatched, underscores that facing an existential threat sparks a deep-seated will to fight. The U.S. Army can address such fervent resistance in future exercises and engagements and consider approaches to recalibrate strategies when facing or supporting forces motivated by this variable.

While numerically disadvantaged forces like Ukraine may struggle in a prolonged personnel attrition war, they can potentially succeed in eroding an adversary’s resolve. It is important for the U.S. Army to understand the benefits of targeting an opponent’s will, especially by factoring in aspects of foreign material support and psychological operations, as well as anticipating how adversaries may use similar tactics against them.

The Russo-Ukrainian War reinforces the efficacy of mission command against a more centralized, top-driven command structure in LSCO. Initiative and innovation at all levels of command breed success and contribute to the will to fight. While still learning to take fuller advantage of combined arms tactics, the UAF has effectively employed mission command, especially in its counteroffensives. The U.S. Army can capitalize and generate gains by reinforcing its mission command principles, especially as they might be employed in LSCO.

The conflict illustrates that superior training, leadership, and equipment can counterbalance numerical advantages. By investing strategically in enhancing the quality of its training and equipment, the U.S. Army may benefit from the ability to offset numerical deficits in future LSCO scenarios. Moreover, observing the contrast between the UAF’s successes and Russian setbacks, the U.S. Army can further refine its focus on producing well-trained, well-equipped forces, ensuring readiness and adaptability.

Contributors to this article include Robert Kurz (FMSO/GCKN); Susan Littleton (FMSO/GCKN); Charles Raymond (TRADOC G-2); Marcus Griffin, PhD (GCKN); Ray Finch (FMSO); Peter Wood (FMSO); Charles Bartles (FMSO); Cindy Hurst (FMSO); and Neil Sleevi (CAC).


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  3. Lewis Sorley, A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam (San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1999), 2–9.
  4. Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (London: Penguin Books, 2006), 3–12.
  5. Colin S. Gray, Modern Strategy (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999), 1–44; Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (New York: Polity Press, 2012), 1–14.
  6. David M. Glantz, Zhukov’s Greatest Defeat: The Red Army’s Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999), 1–30.
  7. Keith Gessen, “How the War in Ukraine Might End,” New Yorker (website), 29 September 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/how-the-war-in-ukraine-might-end.
  8. Phillips Payson O’Brien and Edward Stringer, “The Overlooked Reason Russia’s Invasion Is Floundering,” The Atlantic (website), 9 May 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/russian-military-air-force-failure-ukraine/629803/.
  9. Sarah Oates, “Putin’s Control over Ukraine War News Is Not Total – It’s Challenged by Online News and Risk-Taking Journalists,” The Conversation, 23 March 2022, https://theconversation.com/putins-control-over-ukraine-war-news-is-not-total-its-challenged-by-online-news-and-risk-taking-journalists-179540.
  10. “Entire Divisions of Russian Army Are Surrendering and Over a Million People Have Used Ukrainian Website ‘I Want To Live,’” Ukrainska Pravda, 17 December 2022, https://www.yahoo.com/now/whole-divisions-russian-army-surrender-154958448.html.
  11. Rebekah Koffler, Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2021), 135.
  12. Tom Watling, Tim McNulty, and Sean Meleady, “Russian Mercenary Claims Deserters Are Shot and Thrown into Graves,” Express (website), 1 February 2023, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1728446/Russia-war-Commonwealth-forces-Australia-UK-military-live; Allison Quinn, “Russia Now Has a Second Frontline Set Up Just to Kill Its Deserters: Intel,” Daily Beast, 27 October 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/russia-now-has-a-second-frontline-set-up-just-to-kill-its-deserters-intel; Isabel van Brugen, “Russian Army Threatening to Shoot Deserters amid Low Morale: U.K.,” Newsweek (website), 4 November 2022, https://www.newsweek.com/russian-army-threatening-shoot-deserters-low-morale-uk-1756880; Pjotr Sauer, “Russian Soldiers Say Commanders Used ‘Barrier Troops’ to Stop Them Retreating,” Guardian (website), 27 March 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/27/russian-soldiers-commanders-used-barrier-troops-stop-retreating.
  13. “Conflict with Ukraine: Assessments for March 2023,” ANO Levada Center, 7 April 2023, https://www.levada.ru/en/2023/04/07/conflict-with-ukraine-assessments-for-march-2023/; “Conflict with Ukraine: Assessments for February 2023,” ANO Levada Center, 13 March 2023, https://www.levada.ru/en/2023/03/13/conflict-with-ukraine-assessments-for-february-2023/; “Approval of Institution, Ratings of Parties and Politicians: March 2023,” ANO Levada Center, 7 April 2023, https://www.levada.ru/en/2023/04/07/approval-of-institutions-ratings-of-parties-and-politicians-march-2023/; “Conflict with Ukraine: Assessments for April 2023," ANO Levada Center, 27 April 2023, https://www.levada.ru/en/2023/04/27/konflikt-s-ukrainoj-ostenki-aprelya-2023-goad/.
  14. Ibid.
  15. “Putin’s Gamble for Resurrection and Coups in Russia,” Odysee, posted by “Geo Perspective,” 30 September 2022, https://odysee.com/@GeoPerspective:b/putin%27s-gamble-for-resurrection-and:a; Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, Meatgrinder: Russian Tactics in the Second Year of Its Invasion of Ukraine (London: Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, 19 May 2023), https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/special-resources/meatgrinder-russian-tactics-second-year-its-invasion-ukraine.
  16. Katri Pynnöniemi, “The Kremlin Rhetoric and the Framing of the War in Ukraine,” Russian Military and Security Research Group (blog), 25 May 2022, https://rusmilsec.blog/2022/05/25/the-kremlin-rhetoric-and-the-framing-of-the-war-in-ukraine/; Steve Taylor, “Why Do Human Beings Keep Fighting Wars?,” Guardian (website), 5 August 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/05/why-human-beings-keep-fighting-wars-warfare.
  17. To compare Ukrainian polling, see the following: “Ukrainians Still Committed to Victory, Staying in Ukraine—New Survey,” New Voice of Ukraine, 23 April 2023, https://english.nv.ua/life/new-survey-reveals-most-ukrainians-desire-for-victory-and-to-remain-in-ukraine-news-50319726.html; “Public Opinion on the War, Victory, and Security Guarantees,” Razumkov Centre, 24 April 2023, https://razumkov.org.ua/en/sociology/press-releases/public-opinion-on-the-war-victory-and-security-guarantees; “Symbols, Events, and Personalities Shaping Ukrainians’ National Memory of Russia’s War against Ukraine,” Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, 16 May 2023, https://dif.org.ua/en/article/symbols-events-and-personalities-shaping-ukrainians-national-memory-of-russias-war-against-ukraine#_Toc134379502; “What Ukrainians Think about Future of Crimea,” Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, 23 August 2021, https://dif.org.ua/en/article/what-ukrainians-think-about-future-of-crimea; Tobias Bunde, Sophie Eisentraut, and Leonard Schutte, “Auch bei Russischem nuklearschlag 89 prozent der Ukrainer wollen weiterkampfen” [Even in the event of a Russian nuclear strike, 89 percent of Ukrainians want to continue fighting], Tagesspiegel [Daily Mirror] (website), 2 July 2023, https://www.tagesspiegel.de/internationales/auch-bei-russischem-nuklearschlag-89-prozent-der-ukrainer-wollen-weiterkampfen--bis-zur-ruckeroberung-der-krim-9299993.html; Anton Hrushetskyi, “Dynamics of Readiness for Territorial Concessions for the Earliest Possible End of the War: Results of a Telephone Survey Conducted on September 7-13, 2022,” Kyiv International Institute of Sociology press release, https://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=1133&page=1; Anton Hrushetskyi, “Dynamics of Readiness for Territorial Concessions for the Earliest Possible End to the War: Results of a Telephone Survey Conducted on February 14-22, 2023,” Kyiv International Institute of Sociology press release, https://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=1192&page=1; “Понад 90% українців вірять у перемогу Понад 90% українців вірять у перемогу” [More than 90% of Ukrainians believe in victory], Ukrinform, 25 August 2023, https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-society/3689814-ponad-90-ukrainciv-virat-u-peremogu.html; “Reconstruction of Ukraine and International Aid (November 2022),” Rating Group, 13 December 2022, https://ratinggroup.ua/en/research/ukraine/v_dbudova_ukra_ni_ta_m_zhnarodna_dopomoga_20-21_listopada_2022.html; R. J. Reinhart, “Ukrainians Support Fighting until Victory,” Gallup, 18 October 2022, https://news.gallup.com/poll/403133/ukrainians-support-fighting-until-victory.aspx; Peter Dickinson, “Poll: 86% of Ukrainians Want to Fight on despite Russian Terror Bombing,” UkraineAlert (blog), Atlantic Council, 25 October 2022, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/ukraine-defiant-as-putins-terror-bombing-plunges-cities-into-darkness/.
  18. Tom Mutch, “A Terrifying Secret in Putin’s War Is Now Impossible to Hide,” Daily Beast, 7 June 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukraine-fears-military-recruitment-crisis-in-the-war-against-russias-army.
  19. Rupert Matthews, The Battle of Thermopylae: A Campaign in Context (Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press, 2008).
  20. Ibrahim Al-Marashi and Daniel P. Bolger, “ISIS’s Projection of Landpower in Iraq,” in Landpower in the Long War: Projecting Force After 9/11, ed. Jason W. Warren (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2019), 202–16, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvg5bst0.17.
  21. Steven Pifer, “The Russia-Ukraine War and Its Ramifications for Russia,” Brookings Institution, 8 December 2022, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/the-russia-ukraine-war-and-its-ramifications-for-russia/; “Comparison of United States and Russia Military Strengths (2024),” Global Firepower, https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-comparison-detail.php?country1=ukraine&country2=russia; “GlobalFirepower.com Ranks (2005-Present): Military Powers Ranked since 2005 According to Global Firepower,” Global Firepower, accessed 20 February 2024, https://www.globalfirepower.com/global-ranks-previous.php; figure 3 from “2023 Ukraine Military Strength,” Global Firepower, 31 May 2023, https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.php?country_id=ukraine.
  22. “Russia,” Heritage Foundation, 24 January 2024, https://www.heritage.org/military-strength/assessing-threats-us-vital-interests/russia.
  23. Fred Kaplan, “No You’re Not Imagining It: Russia’s Army Is Inept,” Slate, 28 February 2022, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/02/no-youre-not-imagining-it-russias-army-is-inept.html.
  24. David Brennan, “How Russian Forces in Ukraine Are Learning to Fight: U.S. Veteran Trainer,” Newsweek (website), 13 March 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/how-russian-forces-ukraine-learning-fight-american-veteran-trainer-1787239; Quentin Sommerville, “Bakhmut: Russian Casualties Mount but Tactics Evolve,” BBC, 16 March 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64955537; Matthew Loh, “A Ukrainian Drone Commander Said Russian Troops Would Sit around and Get Shot at the Start of the War, but Have Learned from Their Mistakes,” Business Insider, 19 April 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/ukrainian-soldier-says-russians-sat-around-get-shot-war-start-2023-4.
  25. Jake Epstein, “Russia and Ukraine Have a Lot of the Same Tanks and Jets, but Kyiv Has a Decisive ‘Flesh and Bone’ Advantage, Top US Enlisted Leader Says,” Business Insider, 1 March 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-decisive-flesh-bone-edge-over-russia-top-us-leader-2023-3; Seth G. Jones, Riley McCabe, and Alexander Palmer, “Ukrainian Innovation in a War of Attrition,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 27 February 2023, https://www.csis.org/analysis/ukrainian-innovation-war-attrition.
  26. Sommerville, “Bakhmut”; Natalia Yurchenko, “РФ способна полностью обеспечить свою армию людьми для продолжительной войны: как заманивают” [The Russian Federation is able to fully provide its army with people for a long war: How to lure], RBC-Ukraine, 13 April 2023, https://www.rbc.ua/ukr/news/rf-zdatna-povnistyu-zabezpechiti-svoyu-armiyu-1681377036.html; “Russia’s Population Nightmare Is Going to Get Even Worse,” Economist (website), 4 March 2023, https://www.economist.com/europe/2023/03/04/russias-population-nightmare-is-going-to-get-even-worse.
    Jones, McCabe, and Palmer, “Ukrainian Innovation”; Julius Lasin, “‘Unprecedented’ Casualties for Russian Troops,” USA Today (website), 28 February 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/nletter/ukraine-russia-crisis/2023/02/28/ukraine-russia-crisis-unprecedented-casualties-russian-troops/11365763002/. Regarding personnel losses, after one full year of battling (February 2022–February 2023), CSIS estimates that Russia has suffered roughly 200,000 to 250,000 casualties—personnel killed, wounded, or missing—since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine in February 2022, with 60,000 to 70,000 of those reportedly dead.
    Jakob Janovsky et al., “Attack on Europe: Documenting Russian Equipment Losses during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” Oryx (blog), 24 February 2022, https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html; Jakob Janovsky et al., “List of Aircraft Losses during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,” Oryx (blog), 20 March 2022, https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/03/list-of-aircraft-losses-during-2022.html. Regarding equipment losses, as of mid-July 2023, the widely cited open-source intelligence blogger team Oryx lists a total of 11,033 Russian vehicles and 444 aircraft destroyed, damaged, abandoned, and captured as confirmed by photo or videographic evidence.
  27. Brennan, “How Russian Forces in Ukraine Are Learning to Fight”; Sommerville, “Bakhmut”; Watling and Reynolds, Meatgrinder. The Royal United Services Institute (see Watling and Reynolds) has labeled these categories by function: line infantry holds ground in defense; assault infantry attacks weak points; disposable infantry are skirmishers and probe for weak points; and specialized troops, including airborne and Spetznaz, are used for raiding and special operations.
  28. Sommerville, “Bakhmut”; Yurchenko, “The Russian Federation”; Economist, “Russia’s Population Nightmare.”
  29. Jessica Warren, “Russian Conscripts Are Resorting to ‘Playing Dead on the Battlefield’ as They Are Sent in to Fight with Poor Equipment and Insufficient Training,” Daily Mail (website), 2 November 2022, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11383061/Russian-conscripts-resorting-playing-dead-battlefield.html; Sinéad Baker, “Russia Is Sending Troops to ‘Less Experienced’ Belarus for Training because Most of Its Own Instructors Have Been Deployed to Ukraine, Says UK Intel,” Business Insider, 24 March 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-troops-trained-belarus-own-instructors-deployed-ukraine-uk-intel-2023-3; Isabel van Brugen, “Russia Admits It’s Running Out of Equipment for Mobilized Soldiers,” Newsweek (website), 27 October 2022, https://www.newsweek.com/russia-equipment-weapons-shortage-peskov-soldiers-ukraine-1755057; Associated Press, “‘How Long Can This Go On?’: Russia’s Chaotic Draft Leaves Soldiers Cold and Unequipped,” Los Angeles Times (website), 26 October 2022, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-10-26/russia-chaotic-draft-leaves-soldiers-cold-unequipped.
  30. Warren, “Russian Conscripts Are ‘Playing Dead’”; Allison Quinn, “Taped Call Captures Putin’s Troops in Self-Loathing Spiral,” Daily Beast, 23 March 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/leaked-tape-captures-russian-troops-mocking-vladimir-putins-war-in-ukraine; Connor Surmonte, “Vladimir Putin’s Soldiers Starving in Ukraine, Surviving on Only ‘Instant Noodles’ & Potatoes Cooked on ‘Rockets,’” Radar Online, 6 February 2023, https://radaronline.com/p/vladimir-putin-soldiers-starving-ukraine-surviving-instant-noodles-potatoes-cooked-rockets/.
  31. Cory Welt, “U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine,” Congressional Research Service (CRS) In Focus IF12040 (Washington, DC: CRS, 15 February 2024), https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12040; “Relations with Ukraine,” NATO, last updated 28 July 2023, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_37750.htm; Sophia Ankel, “The Rise of Ukraine’s ‘Iron General’ Who Reformed Its Army and Became Putin’s Worst Nightmare,” Business Insider, 16 February 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/valerii-zaluzhnyi-iron-general-putin-ukraine-war-russia-2023-1.
  32. Welt, “U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine”; NATO, “Relations with Ukraine.”
  33. Emily Feng and Kateryna Malofieieva, “As Ukraine’s War Grinds On, Soldiers Are Outgunned and Injuries Are Rising,” NPR, 18 July 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/07/18/1112113033/ukraine-russia-war-injuries-morale; Phil McCausland, “Foreign Soldiers Flocked to Ukraine after Russia Invaded. Five Months On, the Fighting Is Taking a Heavy Toll,” NBC News, 21 July 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukraine-russia-foreign-soldiers-invasion-morale-us-veterans-rcna39268.
  34. Daniel Kochis, “Assessing the Global Operating Environment: Europe,” Heritage Foundation, 24 January 2024, https://www.heritage.org/military-strength/assessing-the-global-operating-environment/europe; Isabelle Khurshudyan, Paul Sonne, and Karen DeYoung, “Ukraine Short of Skilled Troops and Munitions as Losses, Pessimism Grow,” Washington Post (website), 13 March 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/03/13/ukraine-casualties-pessimism-ammunition-shortage/; Tara Copp, “1st Class of Ukrainian Fighters Finishes Advanced US Training,” Associated Press, 17 February 2023, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-politics-lloyd-austin-ap-top-news-afcffd86e422d6a848087cc5160af554; “Ukrainian Military Completing Training on Patriot System – Top Defense Official,” Ukrinform, 28 February 2023, https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3676510-ukrainian-military-completing-training-on-patriot-system-top-defense-official.html; Marco Trujillo and Juan Medina, “Ukrainian Soldiers Wrap Up Leopard 2A4 Tank Training in Spain,” Reuters, 13 March 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukrainian-soldiers-wrap-up-leopard-2a4-tank-training-spain-2023-03-13/.
  35. Brian Mann, “A Young Officer Hopes to Turn the Tide of War as Ukraine Fights to Retake a Key City,” NPR, 3 August 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/08/03/1114755089/a-young-officer-hopes-to-turn-the-tide-of-war-as-ukraine-fights-to-retake-a-key.
  36. Christoher Woody, “Ukraine’s Battlefield Success Surprised Russia, but US Troops Who Trained Ukrainians Saw It Coming, National Guard Chief Says,” Business Insider, 27 January 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/ukrainian-ncos-helped-fend-off-russian-attack-national-guard-chief-2023-1; Epstein, “Russia and Ukraine Have a Lot of the Same Tanks and Jets”; Jake Epstein, “Ukrainian Troops Say Western Military Officers Have Been FaceTiming with Them to Teach Them How to Use Weapons Coming without Instructions,” Business Insider, 17 April 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/western-officers-facetime-ukrainian-troops-help-teach-using-weapons-2023-4; Christopher Woody, “Russian Forces ‘Can’t Cope’ with the ‘Unpredictability’ of Ukrainian Troops, Top Enlisted Leader Says,” Business Insider, 2 August 2022, https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-forces-cant-cope-with-ukrainian-ncos-enlisted-leader-says-2022-8.
  37. Liam Collins, “In 2014, the ‘Decrepit’ Ukrainian Army Hit the Refresh Button. Eight Years Later, It’s Paying Off,” The Conversation, 8 March 2022, https://theconversation.com/in-2014-the-decrepit-ukrainian-army-hit-the-refresh-button-eight-years-later-its-paying-off-177881; Ankel, “The Rise of Ukraine’s ‘Iron General’”; Khurshudyan, Sonne, and DeYoung, “Ukraine Short on Skilled Troops and Munitions”; Jake Epstein, “After the Next Round of Major Fighting with Russia, Ukraine May Be Living ‘Paycheck to Paycheck’ with Western Gear, Expert Says,” Business Insider, 7 April 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/ukraine-may-live-paycheck-to-paycheck-western-gear-expert-russia-2023-4.
    Figure 4 from “Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100: Ukraine,” PopulationPyramid.net, 19 July 2023, https://www.populationpyramid.net/ukraine/2023/; “Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100: Russia,” PopulationPyramid.net, 19 July 2023, https://www.populationpyramid.net/russian-federation/2023/.
  38. David Brennan, “Russian Spring Offensive May Already Be Stalling: U.S. Trainer in Ukraine,” Newsweek (website), 9 March 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/russian-spring-offensive-already-stalling-american-trainer-ukraine-1786587; Jones, McCabe, and Palmer, “Ukrainian Innovation”; John Leicester and David Keyton, “Low Morale Takes Hold of Ukrainian, Russian Troops,” PBS NewsHour, 19 June 2022, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/low-morale-takes-hold-of-ukrainian-russian-troops; Economist, “Russia’s Population Nightmare.”
  39. Khurshudyan, Sonne, and DeYoung, “Ukraine Short on Skilled Troops and Munitions”; David Lawler, “Ukraine Suffering up to 1,000 Casualties per Day in Donbas, Official Says,” Axios, 15 June 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/06/15/ukraine-1000-casualties-day-donbas-arakhamia; “Подоляк о ежедневных потерях ВСУ: цифры уменьшились в три раза” [Podolyak on the daily losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: the numbers have decreased three times], RBC-Ukraine, 9 August 2022, https://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/podolyak-ezhednevnyh-poteryah-vsu-tsifry-1660032459.html; Andrew S. Bowen, “Ukrainian Military Performance and Outlook,” CRS In Focus IF12150 (Washington, DC: CRS, updated 1 December 2023), https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12150; Tom Mutch, “A Terrifying Secret in Putin’s War Is Now Impossible to Hide,” Daily Beast, 7 June 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukraine-fears-military-recruitment-crisis-in-the-war-against-russias-army.
  40. “Surge in Arms Imports to Europe, while US Dominance of the Global Arms Trade Increases,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 13 March 2023, https://sipri.org/media/press-release/2023/surge-arms-imports-europe-while-us-dominance-global-arms-trade-increases; Associated Press, “Ukraine Was the 3rd Largest Importer of Arms in2022, Thanks to Aid from US, Europe,” Fox News, 13 March 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/world/ukraine-3rd-largest-importer-arms-2022-thanks-aid-us-europe; Epstein, “After the Next Round of Major Fighting.”
  41. Chris Panella, “Front-Line Ukrainian Soldiers Say It Seems Like Russia Has ‘Unlimited’ Artillery Shells to Throw at Them While They’re Worried about Running Out,” Business Insider, 24 March 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/front-line-ukrainian-soldiers-describe-russian-artillery-shells-bbc-video-2023-3; Khurshudyan, Sonne, and DeYoung, “Ukraine Short of Skilled Troops and Munitions.”
  42. H. M Drucker, “Marx’s Concept of Ideology,” Philosophy 47, no. 180 (April 1972): 152–61, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0031819100040882.
  43. Jonathan Leader Maynard, “Identity and Ideology in Political Violence and Conflict,” St. Antony’s International Review 10, no. 2 (February 2015): 18–52.
  44. “Рождественское интервью Святейшего Патриарха Кирилла телеканалу Россия 1” [Christmas interview of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to the TV channel Russia 1], Patriarch.ru, 7 January 2023, http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/5992951.html; Olesya Pavlenko, “Патриарх Кирилл считает, что желание уничтожить Россию приведет к концу мира” [Patriarch Kirill believes that the desire to destroy Russia will lead to the end of the world], Kommersant (website), 19 January 2023, https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/5774586; Anastasia Koskello, “Церковь не очень-то нужна армии” [The church is not really needed by the army], Nezavisimaya Gazeta (website), 15 November 2022, https://www.ng.ru/ng_religii/2022-11-15/9_540_army.html; Andrei Melnikov, “О великодержавном богословии патриарха Кирилла” [On the great power theology of Patriarch Kirill], Nezavisimaya Gazeta (website), 6 November 2022, https://www.ng.ru/kartblansh/2022-11-06/3_8582_kartblansh.html; NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence (STRATCOM COE), Analysis of Russia’s Information Campaign against Ukraine (Riga, LV: NATO STRATCOM COE, 2015), https://stratcomcoe.org/cuploads/pfiles/russian_information_campaign_public_12012016fin.pdf; “Disinformation and Russia’s War of Aggression against Ukraine: Threats and Governance Responses,” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 3 November 2022, https://www.oecd.org/ukraine-hub/policy-responses/disinformation-and-russia-s-war-of-aggression-against-ukraine-37186bde/.
  45. Koskello, “The Church Is Not Really Needed by the Army.”
  46. Patriarch.ru, “Christmas Interview of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill”; Pavlenko, “Patriarch Kirill Believes”; Koskello, “The Church Is Not Really Needed by the Army”; Melnikov, “On the Great Power Theology of Patriarch Kirill”; NATO STRATCOM COE, Analysis of Russia’s Information Campaign; OECD, “Disinformation and Russia’s War of Aggression”; Alexandra Markovich, “As More Ukrainians Choose Kyiv Patriarchate, Push Intensifies for Unified National Orthodox Church,” Kyiv Post (website), 23 June 2016, https://www.kyivpost.com/post/10788.
  47. МИХАЙЛО ТКАЧ, “Московська церква має ‘скласти зброю’ в Україні” [The Moscow Church must lay down its arms in Ukraine], Ukrainska Pravda, 11 April 2023, https://www.pravda.com.ua/columns/2023/04/11/7397428/; Robert Kurz, Foreign Military Studies Office, in conversation with author Andrew Johnson as part of Ukrainian Senior National Defense Personnel Studies Group Consultation conducted in Kyiv, Ukraine, in May 2016 and email correspondence in November 2017; Valentyna Romanenko, “СБУ оглянула 350 споруд УПЦ МП: знайшли підозрілих росіян, гроші і літературу для промивання мізків” [Security Service of Ukraine searches 350 buildings of Ukrainian Orthodox Church or Moscow Patriarchate], Ukrainska Pravda, 23 November 2023, https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2022/11/23/7377563/; Valentyna Romanenko, “Крім Лаври СБУ завітала до церковників УПЦ МП на Рівненщині: шукають ДРГ і зброю” [In addition to Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Ukraine’s Security Service visits monastery in Rivne Oblast: Looking for sabotage and reconnaissance groups and weapons], Ukrainska Pravda, 22 November 2023, https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2022/11/22/7377416/; Valentyna Romanenko, “До Києво-Печерської Лаври прийшли СБУ, поліція і Нацгвардія” [Ukraine’s security forces, police and National Guards conduct counterintelligence operations in Kyiv monastery], Ukrainska Pravda, 22 November 2023, https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2022/11/22/7377385/; “SBU Finds Propaganda Materials Denying Existence of Ukraine in Moscow Patriarchate Churches in Western Ukraine,” Interfax-Ukraine, 28 November 2023, https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/875101.html.
  48. “З початку року 63 церкви перейшли до ПЦУ, ще 8,5 тисяч залишаються в УПЦ МП” [63 religious organisations have joined Orthodox Church of Ukraine since beginning of 2023], Ukrainska Pravda, 10 April 2023, https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2023/04/10/7397195/; “Yet Another Orthodox Parish in Ukraine Snubs Moscow-Run Church,” Ukrinform, 11 April 2023, https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-society/3694255-yet-another-orthodox-parish-in-ukraine-snubs-moscowrun-church.html; Asami Terajima, “Ukrainians Celebrate ‘Double Christmas’ in the Shadow of Russia’s Brutal War,” Kyiv Independent, 7 January 2023, https://kyivindependent.com/national/ukrainians-celebrate-double-christmas-in-the-shadow-of-russias-brutal-war; Karina Levitska, “Вже цього року. Українська греко-католицька церква переходить на новий календар” [Already this year. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is switching to a new calendar], RBC-Ukraine, 6 February 2023, https://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/vzhe-tsogo-roku-ukrayinska-greko-katolitska-1675698015.html.
    Figure 5 from Ukraine Ministry of Defense (@DefenceU), “There is no force in the world that can stop this nation from achieving its sacred goal of living in freedom on its God-given land. #FreedomIsOurReligion,” X (formerly Twitter), 27 May 2023, 5:05 a.m., https://twitter.com/DefenceU/status/1662399743514005505.


Benjamin A. Okonofua, PhD, is the project manager for the strategic-level security cooperation assessment, monitoring, and evaluation program at U.S. Africa Command J-5. He is a Global Cultural Knowledge Network subject-matter expert on Africa and an adjunct professor at National Intelligence University. He received his PhD from Georgia State University and is a member of the editorial board of Sage Open.

Nicole Laster-Loucks, PhD, is the lead social scientist for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command G-2’s Global Cultural Knowledge Network. She deployed to Afghanistan as a social scientist from 2011 to 2012 with the Human Terrain System in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and is the chief architect of the Exploitable Conditions Framework.

Lt. Col. Andrew Johnson, U.S. Army, retired, is a senior research analyst for the U.S. Army Global Cultural Knowledge Network. Johnson is the author of multiple studies and training courses focused on analysis of sociocultural aspects of the operational environment. He is a retired Special Forces officer and earned a BA from the University of Washington and an MA from Kansas State University.



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