April 2022

Q1 2022 Commentary

Russia’s War on Ukraine: A New World Order

First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.

Vladimir Putin, Russian State of the Union Speech, April 2005

In place of our usual Investment Outlook, we are devoting this quarter’s commentary to an overview of the Ukrainian conflict because of its global importance.

The world changed on February 24, 2022. That was the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. It changed even more dramatically on Sunday, February 27. That was the day that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had ordered Russian nuclear forces on high alert. The last time that there were threats of nuclear war on the world’s stage was fifty years ago during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in October 1962. Most people in the West have been living under the assumption that wars between great powers were a thing of the past. No longer.

Many barrels of printer’s ink have been spilled over the past weeks on the war in Ukraine. Rather than recounting the last agonizing weeks of warfare, the purpose of this commentary is briefly to analyze how the war has progressed, and to provide a brief primer on the history of Ukraine, a portrait of the country, some possible outcomes of the war, and what it means for the U.S. and for investors.

The author of this piece, a principal at Bradley, Foster & Sargent, has some firsthand knowledge of Ukraine, as his son spent two years there in the Peace Corps fifteen years ago. The author spent several weeks in Ukraine, visiting both Kyiv (Kiev) and smaller cities and villages in central Ukraine. At that time, it was a rough, underdeveloped country with a high level of corruption and frequent incidents of intimidation by mafia-type gangs. It was still marked by the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, which occurred when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union. But one of the salient characteristics of the people he encountered was a fierce sense of pride in Ukrainian independence and nationalism, which is now on display each night on the news.

 

 

Robert H. Bradley

Chairman

Robert H. Bradley