Ukraine's geopolitical importance is getting lost

It is easy to get lost in the domestic side of the firestorm over United States President Donald Trump's ill-advised phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. The House's impeachment inquiry will lead every news broadcast for the foreseeable future. What is missing in much of the conversation, however, is consideration of the geopolitical importance of Ukraine, and how the scandal will affect the uncertain future of that nation and its region.

When I became supreme allied commander of Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in the spring of 2009, Europe was reeling from Russia's short, brutal and highly effective invasion of Georgia. It will go down in military history as the first time a traditional kinetic strike (bombs, rockets, tanks, fighters, troops) was combined with a very determined offensive cyber campaign. There was also a strong propaganda and strategic misinformation effort; Russian special forces in unmarked uniforms; and insurgent-like attacks against critical infrastructure. This emerging "hybrid warfare" was the wave of the future - and eventually it came crashing down on Ukraine.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2019, with the headline 'Ukraine's geopolitical importance is getting lost'. Print Edition | Subscribe