Small Wars Journal

An International Post-War Security Force is Needed in Ukraine

Thu, 11/03/2022 - 8:17pm

An International Post-War Security Force is Needed in Ukraine


By Daniel Rice


The war in Ukraine will end at some point.  When, and under what terms, is unknown and still to be determined.   But when it does end, there needs to be an international security force in Ukraine to ensure Russia never invades again.  


In hindsight, after Russia invaded and illegally annexed the Donbas and Crimea in 2014, an international security force should have been installed in Ukraine.   Had the international community done so, we would not likely be in this massive war.


Of course, Putin will protest and claim ‘escalation’.  He has lost his seat at the table to make international decisions due to his aggressor actions and his army’s institutional-level war crimes against humanity.   And his armed forces have been degraded significantly, so a protesting Putin has less to threaten the stronger west.  Russia has always been a threat and has been an aggressor nation for the past century.  Even after this loss, it will re-arm.  The 141 million inhabitants and large energy revenues will allow Russia to do so. 


This joint force should likely not include the United States to show that this is not a “U.S. versus Russia” issue. This is a “civilized world versus Russia” issue. 


One of the reasons NATO has been successful is because of standardization of equipment, but it goes far beyond just equipment. NATO has been successful mostly because of shared values, shared standards, shared training, equipping, strategy, tactics, and in particular shared understanding and communication.  This does not come easily.  

Ukraine was a Soviet satellite and was led by Russian puppet kleptocratic leaders from 1991-2014. That is why the people rose up in the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, which deposed then-President Yanukovich, who fled to Russia after being deposed.   And the Ukrainian people have been fighting for their freedom and to reject that corrupt Russian kleptocratic culture.  So it has not been 31 years since Ukraine gained full freedom from the Soviet Union, it is more likely 8 years since deposing the Russian puppet government, and all of the corruption that came with it. 


De-Soviet-ization needs to be deliberate and across the entire Ukrainian culture. The Ukrainian Armed Forces started this process in 2015 in coordination with the U.S. Army 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).   26,000 Ukrainian soldiers went through training.   But the Ukrainian Armed Forces and security forces have swelled to nearly 1 million since February 24th.   All of those soldiers need to continuously be trained using NATO standards, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  The other European nations need to embrace Ukraine.


Joining NATO is certainly a goal of Ukraine, and it has applied for membership in the past.  Whether it is admitted or not, is a political issue.  Ukraine alone has stood up to the enemy for which NATO was formed: Russia.  So Ukraine should not be admitted to NATO- it should be the other way around, NATO should be trying to join Ukraine.  If two members of NATO vote to not allow Ukraine to join, that would be a tragedy, and most likely a self-serving vote by those members.   They would rather sacrifice Ukraine than let them join the defensive pact of NATO.


A security agreement such as this is not a one-way street just to support Ukraine.  Not many have traveled into the war zone and spent time with the war fighters.  This Ukrainian Army is the most battle-hardened in all of Europe.  They have been fighting the Russians for eight years. They are winning the war all alone – no one else has combat troops here – on their own.  NATO has 30 current members and 2 potential new members, who all have a defensive pact to defend each other (Article V of NATO) in case Russia attacks.   Any security agreement should come with Ukrainian soldiers working with the partner countries to transfer lessons learned from the most kinetic war in Europe since World War II.  The western countries are weaker and exposed if they do not learn these hard fought lessons from the soldiers who beat the Russian Army. 


Ukraine should not have been left alone to fight Russia after the 2014 invasion that lost the Donbas and Crimea.  If there had been an international force of Polish, Romanian, Estonian, Latvia, Turkish, and Czech ground, air and naval forces in Ukraine, we would not likely be in this massive war.  Ukraine’s neighbors should start discussing and planning the post-war security force to be stationed in Ukraine to prevent any further Russian aggression.

 A security force in Ukraine is in each country’s individual and collective interests. 

About the Author(s)

Dan is the President American University Kyiv and Co-President Thayer Leadership and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He served his commitment as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Field Artillery officer. In 2004, he voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq for 13 months.  He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge and cited for ‘courage on the field of battle” by his Brigade Commander. 


Dan has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Small Wars Journal, and Chief Executive magazine. In 2013, he published and co-authored his first book, West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage, which features 200 of West Point graduates who have helped shape our nation, including the authorized biographies of over 100 living graduates.. The book received 3 literary awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association plus an award from the Military Society Writers of America (MSWA). Dan has appeared frequently on various news networks including CNN, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Bloomberg TV, NBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.


Ed.D., ABD, Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (graduation expected 2023)

MS.Ed., Leadership & Learning, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 2020

M.S., Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill Graduate School, Northwestern University, 2018

M.B.A., Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 2000

B.S., National Security, United States Military Academy, 1988

Full bio here:



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I agree that it's a smart plan of action; I've considered something similar before, though not quite as thoroughly as you have. I appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise; it's helped me tremendously in both my professional and personal life. run 3


Mon, 11/07/2022 - 10:39am

Isn't this the textbook mission of UN peacekeepers?  While Russia has vetoed all attempts at Security Council resolutions aimed at an unforced retreat from occupied Ukraine, they might be willing to support a mandate at some point that introduces international backing to preserve some future status quo.  That's much less threatening that introducing a NATO/EU combat force into Ukraine.  

NATO membership isn't the be-all and end-all for European security.  Austria was and is a non-NATO neutral , Finland, and Yugoslavia manged to negotiate neutrality with both East and West without entry into either NATO or the Warsaw Pact  This is still the case for Austria.  Not admitting Ukraine into NATO isn't tragic in itself...not being imaginative enough to secure Ukraine without continuing to feed Russian paranoia is the tragedy. 


Sun, 11/06/2022 - 11:10pm

Daniel, even if I found some good food for thoughts in your article, there is more than one inaccuracies:

  • You assume that “Russia invaded and illegally annexed the Donbas and Crimea in 2014”. Even though I would partially agree with you about Crimea, I would not necessary agree about 2014 annexation of Donbass. Simply not true.
  • You write that “Ukraine was led by Russian puppet kleptocratic leaders from 1991-2014”: where the hell did you get that info? Simply not true. These sentences show just prejudice, not an analysis and deep study for sure. We can argue if Yanukovich preferred ties with Russia rather than Europe. Let’s talk. We cannot argue about the rest of your thought.
  • NATO further expanding towards Russia: be careful Daniel. This is the real problem which led to this mess. In a country which suffered between 23 and 26 millions of people dting during the II WWR, I question if we, as a whole, understood or listened their words about “red lines”. And that argument is not even a fresh one, since they are repeating same things since 2013.