Aiding Ukrainian Defense and Lessons Learned during the Russo-Ukrainian War

Impact: Public Policy Impact

Description of impact


Who is affected

This project features two major non-academic beneficiaries:

The UK’s Ministry of Defence: St. Andrews’ Ukraine Working Group is a strategic partner with the MoD on its air warfare and defence-industrial collaborations with Ukraine. Information and data collected in Kyiv, combined with the advice we will provide our Ukrainian collaborators, will help the MoD achieve its objectives in these domains.

Ukraine’s Government: The Ukrainian government has requested our advice on a wide-range of strategic matters, including: cultivating support from sympathetic states, managing the risks of nuclear escalation, improving their mechanisms for military adaptation, and obtaining weapons from non-Western producers.


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 galvanized faculty members based at St. Andrews to establish the Ukraine Working Group (UWG). The UWG—chaired by Professor Sir Hew Strachan and Dr. Marc DeVore—has since expanded into an international network of over 60 experts. Since its ad hoc creation, the UWG developed meteorically. The UWG’s initial recommendations reached the U.S. National Security Council and the U.K. Chiefs of Staff Committee within two weeks. Professor Strachan and Dr. DeVore subsequently the staff of NATO’s Secretary General on 17 March. Over time, the UWG’s activities solidified into privileged partnerships with the Ukrainian and British governments.

With our first Impact Grant, the core St. Andrews members of the Ukraine Working Group travelled to Kyiv for direct consultations with Ukrainian political and military leaders. During our period in Kyiv (1-11 April 2023) we met with Ukrainian policymakers, the most important of which were: Oleksiy Danilov (Chairman of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council NSDC), Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Yevhen Moisiuk, and Minister of Strategic Industries Alexander Kamyshin. Besides these key decision makers, we met with a host of other important individuals, including: parliamentarians, deputy defence ministers, experts at think-tanks, and civil society activists.

The advice we provided led to rapid shifts in policy. For example, guided by us, Ukraine’s Ministry for Strategic Industries shifted how it was negotiating joint ventures and attempting to secure technology transfers from its allies. This new policy bore fruit with their obtaining £3.5 billion in UK Export Funding and concluding joint ventures on artillery with Rheinmetall and BAe Systems. Similarly, our advice to Ukraine’s government and civil society actors on their campaign for Western aircraft led them to successfully shift their argument towards the need to defend critical national infrastructure; an argument that help convince the USA to authorize the transfer of F-16s. In other domains as well our advice has produced concrete outcomes, such as the launching of new attack drone programs.

The knowledge and close working relationships with Ukrainian policymakers that resulted from our Kyiv trip have, since our return, enhanced our influence with HMG and other Western governments. The FCDO asked Professor Sir Hew Strachan and Dr. DeVore to debrief their Strategy Directorate upon their return to the UK. Independently, Dr. DeVore debriefed the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff and the (EECAD).

All of the members of our delegation have been solicited to advice bodies as diverse as: the US DoD’s Office of the Net Assessment, the Polish military’s General Staff, the Helsinki Security Forum, the Warsaw Security Forum, and the UK Chiefs of Staff Committee. FCDO’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Directorate (EECAD).
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactPublic Policy Impact
Impact levelInvolvement - mid or active stage