Despite all the sanctions designed to isolate Russia’s economy, billions of dollars’ worth of military assistance to Ukraine, and two years of grueling warfare, there seems to be no end in sight for this disaster.  Today, those of us living in Ukraine continually wonder: when will the war finally end and what kind of peace will it bring?

When will the war end?

The answer to this question is simple: the war could end within one year if the West did two things:

  • Fully enforce all current sanctions, such as the oil embargo, SWIFT limitations, etc.
  • Provide Ukraine with long-range drones and missiles, and to allow their use on Russian territory.

So far, most sanctions have not been enforced – for example Russia has continued to sell oil products to India and China.  In another stark example, just last week, we learned that the German companies Knauf and WKB Systems GmbH are involved in the so-called restoration efforts in the occupied city of Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast, which was destroyed by Russian troops, according to an April 3 investigation by journalists of the ARD Monitor Program.


In terms of military assistance, the US resembles a rudderless sailboat, lacking a captain in a hurricane season - an impotent nation without a coherent foreign policy, perpetually in a state of internal conflict.  That is why the US has held up vital military assistance to Ukraine at a critical time, allowing Russia to destroy much of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the last month. 

One could argue that the increase in Russia’s attacks is directly due to Mike Johnson, who appears to religiously follow the diktats of former President Trump - who is at the moment just a citizen, not a government official.

Thankfully, the European nations are trying to fill the military void.  For the first time since the US withdrew its military support, Ukraine has been effectively targeting numerous military objects deep in Russian territory on a regular basis - oil depots, airfields, drone factories, and so on.  There is ongoing talk about blowing up the Crimean Bridge, which would dramatically change the battlefield.  Ukraine is just beginning to get the upper hand in this war despite difficult times.


If fully supported with strict enforcement of sanctions and with long-range weapons, Ukraine could win this war within one year.  The bigger question is when will the West give Ukraine the necessary support?

Conditions for ending the war.

Ukraine’s terms for ending the war are simple:

  • Return all territory as it was in 1991 prior to the Budapest Memorandum (including Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, etc.
  • Compensate all damage, with a current estimate of between $650 to $800 billion,
  • Comply with the ICC ruling that declared Putin as a war criminal – remove him from office and send to The Hague.

As a part of this deal, all Western sanctions would be lifted, and Russia would make a peaceful return to the global community.

Knowing the nature of Putin, none of these conditions are acceptable to him for numerous reasons.  This is why a long-lasting settlement negotiated in good faith is impossible with Russia, and the war will not end as long as Russia’s war economy is able to function.  Only a crushed Russian economy, totally depleted of resources, would be able to slow the war to a grinding halt, freezing the conflict indefinitely.

Life in Ukraine after the war

Without agreeing to Ukraine’s terms, Russia will remain a pariah state facing a permanent cold war with the West, as it once was, and continuing its hot war with Ukraine.  So how could Ukraine continue to function under such conditions?


There are two obvious examples of how other peaceful and prosperous countries like Ukraine ended up living for a long time next to aggressive, vindictive neighbors, hell-bent on destruction. 

One involves Israel and Iran, with Gaza and Hamas in the buffer zone, and the other is North Korea and South Korea with a demilitarized zone separating the two nations.  In both cases, unresolved grievances have continued for decades, as did the threats and attacks from the aggressive neighbor, witness the latest Hamas attack on Israel.

In both cases, there were buffer zones, much like the Donetsk and Lugansk regions have become today.  Gaza was settled by civilians and governed by Hamas, a terrorist group sponsored by Iran, while the Korean DMZ is purely militarily controlled.  Like Hamas, Russia is currently resettling its citizens into Ukrainian cities that it has destroyed.  Unless Ukraine takes back these cities, a similar situation to Gaza will develop on Ukraine’s borders after the war, allowing Russia to continue terrorizing Ukrainian civilians with missiles and drones on an indefinite basis.

So how do Ukrainians continue living their normal lives, while living next to this Russian beast?  Normalcy is relative, and if Israel was able to implement air defense systems and alerts and continue to operate airports, allowing people to fly without risking death, Ukraine will surely borrow from this experience. 


With such a system in place, Ukraine will be able to safely start a massive reconstruction and continue to integrate with the EU and NATO.  Like in the early 1990s, the Ukrainian economy will experience tremendous growth whilst Russia will stagnate in isolation until it complies with the West’s and Ukraine’s conditions.

In conclusion, many analysists agree that Ukraine will surely win the war, while others believe that Russia will conquer the entire Ukraine (or at least take over large territories).  Instead of these two absolute scenarios, I believe that unless some intervening event occurs - such as Prigozhyn’s mutiny - a middle ground is more likely a frozen conflict for an indefinite future, which would allow Ukraine to forge its own future with the EU and NATO

All of this is realistic and could happen within one year after the West, especially the US, starts to enforce existing sanctions and provides long-range weapons.  Mark my words.

Alex Frishberg is the managing partner at Frishberg and Partners, Kyiv-based Attorneys at Law. 

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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