It’s crucial for Western allies to deter Russia from “staying anywhere in the neighbourhood,” insisted Dr Julia Muravska today while speaking at the London Defence Conference, which started, as one might suspect, with a strong focus on Ukraine

Dr Muravska of the Freeman Air and Space Institute was speaking on a panel with Shashank Joshi, The Economist’s Defence Editor as well as Dr Jack Watling from Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, all of whom explored the nuts and bolts of the picture on the battlefield

Among those aspects discussed were NATO membership, technology and weapons on the battleground, multilateral and bilateral agreements and what a Ukrainian victory might look like. Dr Watling emphasised the importance of Western discipline in sustaining support for Ukraine. That involves everything from manufacturing parts for the Ukrainian military, establishing a training pipeline for troops, to continuing sanctions and European cohesion.

The panel then touched on some technicalities of the war. Joshi argued that a fundamental element likely to decide the war is to what extent the Ukrainian armed forces can scale high-tech warfare across the whole army rather than it remaining the tactics of a select few companies. Joshi also said that despite talks going back to the 2008 Vilnius summit and beyond, Ukraine will still not be granted any quick NATO membership

Dr Muravska touched upon the importance of Ukrainian volunteers countering Russian propaganda and disinformation through Telegram and other social media, highlighting the unique problems modern warfare poses. 

The panel ended with a discussion of what victory might look like. The Ukrainian Ambassador, Vadym Prystaiko suggested that there will be no victory without justice for the victims of war and that reparations should be funded by Russian money.

But crucially, the ambassador reminded the conference of the West’s duty to protect Ukraine after it gave up its nuclear weapons at the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. Prystaiko’s message was clear: if the West lets Ukraine down, its word means nothing. 

Watch the 2023 London Defence Conference live here

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