Table of Contents
- 1 How could the war in Ukraine end? Five scenarios to consider
- 1.1 Short war
- 1.2 Long war
- 1.3 European war
- 1.4 Diplomatic solution
- 1.5 Putin ousted
- 1.6 Also Check:
Almost a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started, its troops have made significant advances into the country, marking the largest attack on a European state since the Second World War.
Speculation is rife around the world about how the war in Ukraine might end, as there is a growing death toll, a desperate humanitarian crisis, and threats of a wider conflict. There are a few scenarios that could happen. Most of them are bleak.
How could the war in Ukraine end? Five scenarios to consider
With the fog of war, it can be hard to see the way forward. It is overwhelming to hear the news from the battlefield, to hear the diplomatic noises, to feel the emotion of the grieving and displaced. Now let’s rethink how the Ukraine conflict might play out for a moment.
Russia escalates military operations in this scenario. There are more indiscriminate artillery and rocket attacks in Ukraine. The Russian air force launched devastating airstrikes. Cyber attacks hit Ukraine’s national infrastructure. Communications and energy supplies are cut off. Many civilians die. Within days, Kyiv falls. The puppet regime is pro-Moscow. Zelensky is either assassinated or flees to Ukraine’s west, or even overseas. Putin declares victory and withdraws some forces, leaving enough to maintain control. Refugees continue to flee west. Belarus becomes a client state of Russia.
More likely is a long war. Low morale, bad logistics, and ineffective leadership may slow down Russian forces. Russian forces may take longer to secure cities like Kyiv whose defenders fight from street to street. It is a long siege. Russia seized and largely destroyed Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, in the 1990s.
However, even once Russian forces have achieved some presence in Ukraine’s cities, they may have difficulty maintaining control. Perhaps the country is too large for the Russian military to control. Ukraine’s defensive forces become an effective insurgency, well-motivated and supported by the local population. The West continues to provide arms and ammunition. Then, perhaps after many years, under new leadership in Moscow, the Russian forces leave Ukraine, bloodied and bowed, just as their predecessors left Afghanistan in 1989 after a decade fighting Islamist insurgents.
Can this war spillover Ukraine’s borders? President Putin might send troops into non-NATO ex-Soviet republics like Moldova and Georgia to regain more territory. But it could also be a miscalculation or escalation. Putin may declare Western arms supplies to Ukrainian forces an act of aggression. He might send troops into Nato members like Lithuania, to establish a land corridor with the Russian coastal exclave of Kaliningrad.
Could there, despite everything, still be a diplomatic solution to this conflict?
“The guns are clicking now, but the path of dialogue must remain open,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Talks continue. Macron has spoken to Putin. Moscow is being approached. Russia and Ukraine have met to discuss Belarus’ border. Not much progress has been made. Putin seems to have accepted the possibility of a negotiated ceasefire by agreeing to the talks.
The question is whether the West can offer what diplomats call an “off-ramp”, which is an exit off a major highway. In order to save face, it is important for the Russian leader to know what it would take for Western sanctions to lift.
what about Vladimir Putin himself? “We’re ready for any outcome,” he declared when he launched his invasion.
But what if he lost power? It might seem impossible. Today, such things are now considered in the world. Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at Kings College, London, wrote this week: “There is now the same likelihood of regime change in Moscow as in Kyiv.”
How could this be? Maybe Mr. Putin wants a disastrous war. Thousands of Russians die. Economic sanctions bite. Putin loses popularity. Perhaps a popular revolution looms. Security forces are used to suppress that opposition. As a result, the Russian military, political and economic elite turn against him. Russia will see some sanctions lifted and diplomatic relations restored if Putin leaves and is replaced by a more moderate leader. The palace coup has happened. This may seem unlikely now. The people who have benefited from Mr. Putin may no longer believe he can protect their interests.