Today, it is impossible to predict when and how this Russian–Ukrainian war will end or what Ukraine’s victory will amount to.
However, we can clearly formulate our goals and point out some factors signaling Ukraine’s future victory.
In my opinion, Ukraine’s real goal is not just Russia’s military defeat and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity to its 1991 borders, but an end to the historical existence of Russia as an empire – namely its territorial reformatting with the emergence of independent states based on democratic principles of national self-determination.
Possible pathways to achieving these goals can be divided into four groups of factors.
- Processes in Russia
These might include Putin’s natural death or assassination; a coup resulting in his dethronement; mass public unrest provoked by socio-economic deterioration; or a rise of national movements in the autonomies of the Russian Federation.
This is what we all would welcome, but we must admit that these scenarios are hardly feasible and most likely impossible without the engagement of the second group of factors.
- Military defeat
These might include, among others, a painful defeat (or better, several painful defeats) of the Russian army in Ukraine. That is possible if the Ukrainian Armed Forces has sufficient numbers of combat-capable and well-armed assault units.
This scenario is more realistic, and I can forecast that as soon as it were to happen, Russia would begin to fall apart because of feuds among Russian elites, grassroot turmoil and rising national movements in autonomies on the country’s periphery.
- Economic pressure
This could involve paralysis of the Russian economy caused by sanctions, which is likely to happen in 2023; critical shortages of food and medicines; and a possible agreement among the major oil producers to increase their offer to the world market. That would result in mass unemployment and significant impoverishment in big cities. Riots in Moscow and St. Petersburg would inevitably kill the Russian state.
- Geopolitical pressure
If, in the place of the current “Rammstein” coalition, there emerges a military-political alliance aiming to force Russia to capitulate, and if the major powers begin consultations on Russia’s future and a new world order after its defeat, the days of the Putin regime would be numbered and the fate of Russia as a state would then be decided.
Then, we might see that Zbigniew Brzezinski was right to predict that Russia would be the main geopolitical prize in the 21st century – for those who make a deal.
Taras Stetskiv is a politician, public figure and deputy of the Verkhovna Rada in several convocations
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.
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