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Ukraine. Foreign Affairs: Russia seems doomed. Experts give three possible scenarios

Ukraine.  Foreign Affairs: Russia seems doomed.  Experts give three possible scenarios

Ukraine. Foreign Affairs: Russia seems doomed. Experts give three possible scenarios

Russia seems doomed to fail in Ukraine. However, it is not certain what form this failure will take, experts write in the American magazine “Foreign Affairs”. They present three main scenarios, each of which would have different consequences for Russia, Ukraine and the West.

For Vladimir Putin lining Ukraine it was supposed to be the most important achievement, a manifestation of new strength Russia and the first step in the process of rebuilding the empire. The Russian leader wanted to show that the US is a paper tiger and that Moscow and Beijing are destined to assume the role of hegemons in the new, multipolar world order, write the authors of the text Liana Fix from the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Michael Kimmage, a professor of history at the Catholic University of America in Washington and an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank.

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Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has failed, and while there may yet be a significant change, Russia seems doomed to fail. Three baseline scenarios for such an end to the war should be considered, as each has different consequences for the West and Ukraine, Fix and Kimmage point out.

Russian soldiers in SoledarPAP/EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT

Three scenarios for the end of the war in Ukraine

The first and least likely scenario is for the Kremlin to admit defeat and start peace negotiations on Kiev’s terms. For this to happen, Putin would have to be marginalized, which is highly unlikely as long as he remains in power.

In the second scenario, Russia’s defeat would occur after a serious escalation of the conflict, and in the worst case scenario, after a nuclear attack on Ukraine, which would threaten a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. Such a “nuclear threshold crossing” by Moscow would hasten its defeat, as the Alliance would advocate a forceful conventional attack against its forces, the authors argue.

The third scenario predicts that the end of the war will be forced by the collapse of the Russian regime. The Russians may “turn against (Putin) if the war leads to widespread poverty. The collapse of his regime could mean the immediate end of the war…. A coup d’état followed by civil war would be an echo of what happened after the takeover of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917,” write Fix and Kimmage.

Ukraine, military Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/Facebook

But such a Russian failure would mean that the US and Europe would have to prepare for the regional and global chaos that would ensue. It could mean conflicts in and around Russia itself. The question that Western politicians struggled to deal with in 1991 would become relevant again: “Who will get control of Russia’s nuclear weapons?” – the authors warn.

Nuclear attack ‘wouldn’t help Russian soldiers’

Although the first scenario is unlikely, it has the advantage that if the war ended with a peace agreement, it would be possible to normalize Russia’s relations with the West, experts say.

If the second scenario were to materialize and a nuclear attack occurred, however tragic it would be, it would not help Russian troops, and Moscow would be “economically and possibly militarily punished by the global coalition,” the authors say.

Photo from January 11

Ukrainian soldiers near SoledarPhoto from January 11East News/Associated Press

War in Ukraine may have made the Russians a little more skeptical of Putin, but “they are used to Russia having superpower status (…) and do not want their country to be stripped of its power and influence in Europe. And that would be the consequences of Russia’s failure in Ukraine,” continue Fix and Kimmage.

In the long run, however, the sanctions and the number of Russian victims of the war could “ignite the fire of revolution” in Russia and lead to the overthrow of Putin, the authors believe. Most likely, the next leader of Russia would be an equally authoritarian leader. Had he also dreamed of restoring Russia’s superpower status, he probably would not have ended the war in Ukraine. In this scenario, the fall of Putin would lead to civil war and the disintegration of Russia, experts estimate.

The country would fall into chaos, Moscow would be unable to continue the war, and thus Ukraine would free itself from the invader.

“The West should be politically and intellectually prepared”

A deep crisis in Russia would affect many countries in the region. The fall of Putin would, for example, entail the fall of Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenko. Georgia would get more freedom. Old conflicts could be revived around Russia. China would try to gain more influence in Central Asia, the South Caucasus and the Middle East, write Fix and Kimmage.

Photo from January 4, 2023

Ukrainian forces near BakhmutPhoto from January 4, 2023PAP/EPA/GEORGE IVANCHENKO

However, a dramatic weakening of Russia would not automatically mean that a “golden age of order and stability” is coming. This could be the beginning of a “chain reaction” from which they would not benefit United States. Neither the US nor Europe would have a great chance to stop the expansion of China and Turkey, which would be interested in filling the void left by the fallen superpower, the authors estimate.

Twice in the last 106 years the Russian empire has collapsed: in 1917 and 1991. Twice Russia managed to rebuild itself. “A defeated Russia will one day reassert its position and pursue its interests on its own terms. The West should be politically and intellectually prepared for both Russian defeat and Russia’s return,” Fix and Kimmage conclude.

Main photo source: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine/Facebook

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