Australian Outlook

Episode 91: Ukraine

31 Jan 2022
By Allan Gyngell AO FAIIA and Dr Darren Lim
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at his inauguration on May 20, 2019. Source: Office of the President of the Ukraine/Wikimedia Commons:

Also discussed in this episode of Australia in the World: the escalating crisis between Russia, Ukraine, and NATO, the use of military coercion, and the role of diplomacy and signalling.

Allan and Darren venture far outside their comfort zones this week to give some thoughts on the escalating crisis between Russia, Ukraine and NATO. This is an interesting and important issue because it brings together so many of the central questions in international relations. These include: the use of military coercion and other forms of deterrence; the behaviour of great powers, the role of diplomacy and signalling; the links between strategic and economic interests; the politics of the transatlantic relationship; the role of alliances; and the practical meaning of norms like ‘sovereignty’ and ‘self-determination’.

While not all of these can be covered in depth in a single episode, they all inform Allan and Darren as they offer initial opinions of the strategic context and stakes involved. These events are important to Australia because of their potential impact on the international order and, in particular, America’s role in it. Along the way, the discussion covers the specific phenomenon of “spheres of influence”, the geoeconomic dimensions, and whether there is any scope at all for for multilateral organisations to contribute. The episode finishes by looking at how the Australian government has responded and thinking about what Beijing’s perspective might be.

Relevant links

Adam Tooze, “Putin’s challenge to western hegemony – the 2022 edition”, Chartbook newsletter #68, 12 January 2022:

Ross Douthat, “How to retreat from Ukraine”, New York Times, 22 January 2022:

Francis Fukuyama, “Why Ukraine matters”, American Purpose, 24 January 2022:

Rob Lee, “Moscow’s compellence strategy”, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 18 January 2022:

Greg Earl, “Bitcoin vs the IMF, and other great expectations”, Lowy Interpreter, 27 January 2022:

Plain English podcast, “The Biggest Losers of the Streaming Wars: ESPN, Movie Theatres, Peacock, and More”, 18 January 2022:


(Other interesting readings, in chronological order)

Tyler Cowen, “What Will Putin Do Next? Game Theory Offers Some Clues”, Bloomberg, 19 January 2022:

“What would a Ukraine conflict look like” Rachman Review Podcast, 20 January 2022:

Edward Fishman and Chris Miller, “The Russia Sanctions That Could Actually Stop Putin”, Politico, 21 January 2022:

Noah Smith, “Why is Ukraine such an economic failure”, Noahpinion newsletter, 23 January 2022:

Fiona Hill, “Putin Has the U.S. Right Where He Wants It”, New York Times, 24 January 2022:

Michael Kofman, “Putin’s wager in Russia’s standoff with the west”, War on the Rocks, 24 January 2022:

Daniel Drezner, “On deterring Russia”, Washington Post, 26 January 2022:

Center for Defense Strategies, “How likely is large-scale war in Ukraine?”, The Kyiv Independent, 29 January 2022:

Kyle Wilson, “Putin’s NATO power play stirs disquiet among Russia’s security elite”, ASPI Strategist, 29 January 2022: