Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

How to benchmark victory in Ukraine

By Liana Fix

30 Mar 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

In analyzing the ongoing war in Ukraine, FP highlights the struggle to define victory and discusses the potential impact of the West's uncertain stance on the conflict's resolution.

When President George W. Bush gave his “mission accomplished” speech on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln only six weeks into the Iraq War in 2003, it quickly became a cautionary tale against declaring victory in an unpredictable war. Washington didn’t withdraw most of its forces until eight years later, and the pullout resembled defeat much more than victory.

Twenty years later in Ukraine, the risk is not declaring victory prematurely—but not defining victory at all.

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