Events & Media

Ending the War of Attrition in Ukraine

Jeffrey D. Sachs

“Wars often erupt and persist because of the two sides’ miscalculations regarding their relative power. In the case of Ukraine, Russia blundered badly by underestimating the resolve of Ukrainians to fight and the effectiveness of NATO-supplied weaponry. Yet Ukraine and NATO are also overestimating their capacity to defeat Russia on the battlefield. The result is a war of attrition that each side believes it will win, but that both sides will lose. Ukraine should intensify the search for a negotiated peace of the type that was on the table in late March, but which it then abandoned following evidence of Russian atrocities in Bucha – and perhaps owing to changing perceptions of its military prospects.

The peace terms under discussion in late March called for Ukraine’s neutrality, backed by security guarantees and a timeline to address contentious issues such as the status of Crimea and the Donbas. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators stated that there was progress in the negotiations, as did the Turkish mediators. The negotiations then collapsed after the reports from Bucha, with Ukraine’s negotiator stating that, “Ukrainian society is now much more negative about any negotiation concept that concerns the Russian Federation.” 

But the case for negotiations remains urgent and overwhelming. The alternative is not Ukraine’s victory but a devastating war of attrition. To reach an agreement, both sides need to recalibrate their expectations.”

Read the full article in Project Syndicate here.  Jeffrey D. Sachs is University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University as well as an External Board member of the Center for the Study of Economy and Society.


Busting a Myth about NATO and Ukraine

Richard W. Miller

A widespread misconception of NATO’s relation to Ukraine has been sustained by silence in news sources and falsehoods by pundits. According to this myth, the NATO-Ukraine connection, prior to Russia’s current horrific invasion, was a matter of Ukraine’s asking to join and NATO’s not saying “No.” In fact, over the last fourteen years, NATO’s conduct has gone far beyond openness to eventual admission, in engagements that have included extensive and expanding joint military operations in Ukraine. This involvement, which was accompanied by US effor

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Lecture Series

Siegwart Lindenberg, Tilburg University

Calibrating competition. The special role of competitive intensity and winner selection rule for cooperation after competing.

Register here for online access.

Join CSES for a virtual presentation by Siegwart Lindenberg, Professor of Cognitive Sociology at Tilburg University, as he discusses his latest paper, “Calibrating competition. The special role of competitive intensity and winner selection rule for cooperation after competing. An experimental study.”


Much has been written about the desirability to combine the advantages of both competition and cooperation (“coopetition”). Yet, there is surprisingly little research on coopetition inside organizations, even though it may be argued that people’s mindset that is relevant for coopetition even between firms is largely formed on the basis of their experience with competition and cooperation inside the organization. How and under what conditions does the experience of competition negatively affect subsequent cooperation and when does it not have this negative influence? We present an experimental test of two competing theories about experiencing competition of different intensities, the subsequent willingness to cooperate, and the moderating role of how winners are selected: a relative deprivation theory (cooperation compromised by the frustration of losers) and a shifting salience theory (cooperation compromised by regimes that make competitiveness salient). The results favor the shifting salience theory. Experiencing moderate competition intensity affects people’s subsequent willingness to cooperate more positively than experiencing fierce competition. Moderate competition intensity works best, especially with selecting winners on the basis of their performance. If fierce competition cannot be avoided, subsequent cooperation is best served by random selection of winners.

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“Economic sociology is a science concerning itself with the interpretive understanding of social economic action and thereby with a causal explanation of its course and consequences.”— Max Weber