Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Politico-Military Cohesion and Resilience in Ukraine – the Effects of War

Fri31  Mar02:45pm(15 mins)
Bute Hall


Tor Bukkvoll1
1 Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Norway


This paper will discuss cohesion between the top layers of the Ukrainian political and military establishments before and after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of the country. Elite cohesion is often assumed to be one important factor that affects a stat’s resilience. Furthermore, one can argue that such cohesion is especially important in cases where the system of governance is exposed to shocks, such as a war.

The literature on state resilience suggests that consensual rather than co-opted cohesion gives the best results, and the literature on civil-military relations suggests that finding the proper division of labor between the two establishments is the main challenge. Thus, this paper will seek to identify the balance between consensus and co-optation in Ukrainian politico-military relations at the two periods in time, and also investigate whether the onset of war reduced or exacerbated division of labor conflicts among them. The findings will be relevant both for the literature on civil-military relations and for the Ukrainian and Western military and political communities. A crucial element of Ukraine’s post-war resilience will be whether the country’s political and military establishments come out as friends or foes, and whether they during the course of the war found a division of labor that they both can live with and that also produces good decisions.