Predicting the future is a presumptuous endeavor that is often associated with deception.
When propaganda is accepted as truth without fact-checking, any suggestions become even dangerous for national security.
As can be seen, all the analysts, including at the managerial level in Bulgaria, who predicted a quick victory for Russia at the beginning of the war almost 2 years ago, turned out to have quite wrong ideas about the capabilities of Russia, Ukraine and the West.
Their failure, of course, was covered up with all sorts of props.
It is naive to believe that anyone knows for sure how the war in Ukraine will end.
Because in history there are always thousands of random and unpredictable factors that can give an advantage to one side or the other.
And yet, various options and theories can be derived based on calculations and facts, the specialized publication “Military Show” points out.
Here are the facts at the moment:
On the one hand we have Putin. The Russian president has an iron grip on the Russian population, the mass media and the power machine for dealing with the opposition there.
The whole system has categorically declared that it will achieve a quick and inevitable victory.
At first he threatened nuclear and conventional attack.
Putin continues to sacrifice huge numbers of people, funds and weaponry in the conflict.
At that time, Russia’s position continued to deteriorate under the effect of international sanctions. This reduced supplies for the army, human capacity.
The peak of all this was Prigozhin’s rebellion in the summer.
Surprisingly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky found himself in a better position, if anyone can be in a “good position” when attacked by “the second largest army in the world”.
However, he managed to keep the spirit of the nation high and the country continued to receive huge aid from the West – NATO and its partners.
However, this is not enough for success.
Russia continued to rule large parts of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian counter-offensive stalled before the Russians could “get a foothold” and thus achieved some partial territorial gains, but far from anything that could be called victory.
Ukrainian success absolutely depends on supplies from the West and the high morale of the nation.
Elections in many European countries have shown that people are asking when the war will end.
Hein Güman, a military historian and expert on territorial conflicts and a professor at the University of Rochester, made an analysis based on the facts.
He analyzed several options for how the conflict could end.
The most important conclusion is that we cannot expect a resolution anytime soon.
Gyuman has studied conflicts historically since the tenth and is adamant that they never end decisively.
The First and Second World Wars were exceptions to the rule and ended with a definite total victory for one side and complete surrender for the other.
The American Civil War is another such example.
Each party is doing its best to avoid a total loss.
They change tactics, make temporary retreats, etc.
Sometimes they reduce the pace of military operations, they aim to exhaust the enemy.
But let’s first see what a total victory means for one of the two sides in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
When the war began in 2022, total Russian victory was the most likely scenario.
Right now it looks amazing.
In the early days, however, it was completely real. Russian troops invaded the borders from several countries, tanks marched towards Kiev, aviation struck all over Ukraine.
Putin was seen as the total winner in the blitzkrieg.
It was probably a matter of days before Zelensky was captured in Kiev and possibly killed or taken into exile. A puppet government of Moscow would be installed in Kiev.
The West would be in total check. Next would be another country – Moldova or Georgia, which are partially occupied.
Russian troops also invaded from Belarus on the way to Kiev.
The three beams of the Russian armies confidently advanced.
The Ukrainians surprised the world with extremely clever tactics, repulsed the Russian troops to a starting position.
The war devolved into a stalemate in trench warfare.
Russia managed to entrench itself and capture Bakhmut and Soledar at a very high cost.
Currently, both cities are razed to the ground, uninhabited and of no strategic importance, only symbolic.
Precisely because of these losses there, Russia did not have the capacity to continue attacking the rest of Ukraine.
This makes the total victory promised by Putin seem improbable at the moment.
Unless there is some decisive change in conditions.
What can Putin do to change the conditions?
At first, it could restore the nuclear threat.
This is also the greatest fear of the West.
To dissuade the West from helping Ukraine, he must make that support not worth the risk.
So far it’s not working out for him. There is no serious expert who thinks that Putin or his generals will go so far as to use nuclear weapons against NATO.
This would lead to universal self-destruction.
He is left with the option of a tactical strike in Ukraine itself.
If he destroys Kiev with a nuclear bomb it will be devastating for hundreds of thousands of people.
However, this will not lead to the capitulation of Ukraine, but will cause an even greater reaction from the West.
The West will send its heaviest weapons possible to Ukraine – non-nuclear, of course.
Thus Moscow will be directly threatened and possibly defeated.
It is also unclear how much of Russia’s nuclear weapons are actually capable of reaching and delivering an accurate strike.
Although Russia has the largest number of nuclear warheads in the world, many of them are relics from the period shortly after World War II.
They have been stored for decades and their maintenance is questionable.
A failed nuclear strike would spell disaster for Russia.
There is another risk for Russia that stops Putin from using a nuclear bomb.
Ukraine practically floats between Russia and Belarus. The nuclear bomb will bring untold damage to Russia itself.
The last thing Putin wants is to infect Russia with radiation.
So this option for ending the war seems unlikely.
But according to Gyuman, Putin has other tricks up his sleeve.
Much of the world supports Ukraine more as a fashion and out of a desire to stay out of the conflict.
The Brazilian president even Lula da Silva even called on the two countries to sit down and divide the territory of Ukraine.
Very few countries actually support Russia.
This is the puppet state of Belarus. Others are Iran and North Korea.
They support Russia with arms supplies.
This is not enough for the victory of Russia.
There remains one more player whose help the West does not want Russia to receive.
This is China.
China’s role is unique. Chinese leader Xi Jinping took a picture with Putin, calling him “my best friend”.
Since the sanctions began last year, China has become Russia’s main economic partner.
A level of $190 billion in trade was reached.
China’s imports reached $76 billion and exports $114 billion, mainly gas and oil.
Still, China’s support for Putin in Ukraine is only indirect.
China does not supply any weapons to Russia and has publicly stated that it is against changing the borders of Ukraine.
This was especially evident after Prigozhin’s campaign.
The Xi Jinping administration has reacted nervously to the unpredictable nuclear power on its border, Russia.
Russia remains useful to China.
According to Gyuman, if Xi continues to support Putin, it will undermine his efforts in the geopolitical game.
Another option for Putin is support from two Eastern European countries.
One is Belarus.
An attack on Ukraine could be launched from there.
This opportunity failed at the very beginning of the war. Russia lost an unknown number of soldiers and retreated.
This happened with much weaker training and armament of the Ukrainians.
They currently have the most modern western equipment.
Another possibility is an attack from Moldova.
There are Russian troops there.
However, the government is pro-Western. Russia has been investing in separatist movements in Moldova for decades. The battalion in Transnistria can quickly join the war.
However, it is unlikely that Kiev will be reached again.
Moscow has another weapon.
May resort to asymmetric warfare by creating guerrilla units.
Or kill key leaders in Ukraine.
Like Zelensky, for example.
However, killing Zelensky could have the exact opposite effect and consolidate Ukrainians even more.
In areas with a mixed population, there may be assassinations of pro-Russian leaders, and in Russia itself.
Leaving aside the option of a complete Russian victory, what is the other possible outcome?
Is a Ukrainian victory possible?
At first, the experts categorically rejected such an option.
However, they later changed their minds after the swift repulse of the fierce Russian attack.
However, the probability of a complete victory in the sense of Ukraine regaining all its territories seems small, and the cost is huge.
However, Ukraine continues to benefit from Putin’s economic and military difficulties.
It even bombards Moscow with drones.
Still, there are several obstacles to Ukraine’s outright victory.
The West does not want to provide Kiev with long-range missiles, but primarily self-defense systems.
It is almost certain that if it gets more powerful weapons, Kiev will use them to strike inside Russia.
This will escalate the conflict.
Ukraine will soon receive F16 fighters.
This is unlikely to play any decisive role, but it will prevent Russia from gaining supremacy in the skies.
Another problem is Crimea.
Ukraine has been systematically striking key military posts there as a signal of an impending offensive.
However, the West believes that an invasion of Crimea would be a red line for Putin.
Satellite photos show that exceptional defense lines have been created there – trenches, dragon’s teeth, minefields.
Ukraine is more likely to reach the coast of the Sea of Azov at Melitopol than to enter Crimea.
This will cut off the land supply link to Crimea.
And this, however, is an extremely difficult task, if at all possible.
The defensive barriers are one of the most reinforced.
It’s going to be a bloody operation.
The Ukrainian generals know this.
They would not rush in until they saw weaknesses and gaps in the Russian defenses.
And so we come to the most likely outcome of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
There won’t be one!
In any case, not soon.
There is a good chance that the conflict will decrease in intensity.
With the desire of each side to weaken the other.
Kiev, perhaps, has a greater benefit from such an option because it has greater access to aid.
For Moscow, things are not like that with foreign aid.
Ukraine may be trying to retake cities and have Russian troops defend them.
This option does not suit Russia.
It is possible that, with Russia showing weakness, Ukraine might try to invade Crimea at some point.
Ukraine recently announced that it plans to return its territories by mid-2024, but is it possible?
Certainly the harder it gets for Russia, the more likely Putin is to do something horrific.
He still has enough missiles to shell Ukraine’s interior.
However, there is also the possibility that something unforeseen will happen to him.
However, there is no guarantee that his successor will be more peaceful.
Some of his entourage are much more militant than himself.
But let’s assume that Putin or his successor decides to end the war and enter into negotiations with Kiev.
There is no guarantee that any peace agreement will last.
That is more than certain.
50% of peace treaties are broken within 5 years of their conclusion.
Putin can claim that all Russian-speaking Ukrainians are oppressed. He declared President Zelensky, who is Jewish, a “Nazi” and that Ukraine is a fictitious country that was never independent.
According to Güman, the most likely End to the war in Ukraine is no End.
It is very easy to start a war, incredibly difficult to stop it.
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