The strategic and operational implications of the Russia-Ukraine War on Asian militaries and on the future characters of conflicts in the 21st century was the agenda of a workshop on “Future Conflicts — Lessons Learned from Ukraine” organised by the Military Transformation Programme of RSIS. Notably, the workshop addressed questions such as how attitudes toward modern warfare, emerging technologies, and defence innovation are changing as a result of the war; and how countries in Asia may reorientate their militaries towards future conflicts.
Held from 22 to 23 November 2022, the workshop featured five panels helmed by experts from various fields, including academia, policy, and defence. The first panel kicked off with reflections on the changing characters of conflicts and warfare, with panellists placing the conflict in Ukraine into different frameworks of the characters of warfare. The roles of emerging technologies, their integrated into military strategies, and how they have altered the characters of war were also emphasised. The first day of the workshop concluded with a panel aimed at deriving a net assessment of the conflict from the viewpoint of Russia, Ukraine, and other European countries.
The third panel focused on perspectives from Northeast Asia, including China, Japan, and South Korea. Discussions centred around how the lessons from the Russo-Ukrainian war might manifest themselves in terms of military competitions as they affected regional security issues, particularly in the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait; the prospects for security partnerships with Western powers; and the roles of emerging technologies, especially AI, in conflicts. The fourth panel highlighted aspects and lessons for Southeast Asia, with panellists sharing viewpoints of the broader region as well as selected countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Discussions surrounded the roles of the United States, Russia, and China in Southeast Asian in defence modernisation, how the war might impact military planning and modernisation progress in the region, and potential implications on the South China Sea dispute. The final panel concluded the workshop with discussions on the future implications for East Asia.
The speakers got to engage in discussion with attendees from RSIS and stakeholders through Q&A sessions following each panel. The questions and topics ranged from the implications of war in security conflicts in East Asia; to defence innovation and military modernisation, including nuclear, AI, and cyber capabilities; information campaigns; defence planning; and the ways forward for Asian militaries to prepare and strengthen their forces.