Diverse forecasts and prophetic predictions
European politicians and Chinese experts, American generals and Russian propagandists, armchair fantasizers and renowned global analysts (such as Henry Kissinger), television beauties from popular Kyiv channels, and countless unknown bloggers — today, on the eve of the Ukrainian offensive, they all strive to demonstrate their prophetic gift and predict how the bloody Putin’s adventure will end.
The palette of forecasts is extensive. From the opinion of the controversial Prime Minister of Hungary, Orban, who believes that “only in a fairy tale can there be a situation where Russia is defeated. I can’t even imagine that someone can defeat a nuclear state” (Uainfo, 5.05.2023), to the firm conviction of the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, in the ultimate victory of Ukraine over the Russian aggressor (UNIAN, 19.02.2023). The judgments regarding the duration of the war and its end formula, as well as the fate of Russia and Ukraine in the post-war period, are diametrically different.
Forecasting such a complex, multifactorial, and tragic process like war requires intellectual courage and the ability to peer into the darkness of the future — into the most mysterious, elusive, and non-existent (because it is yet unrealized) substance that inexorably looms over every individual, nation, state, and humanity as a whole, becoming a reality over time.
American military officials have divided the future into two categories — the near future (the next 10-15 years) and the distant future (beyond future), which goes beyond the limits of human imagination and the possibility of planning new types of weapons. However, true prophets are not hindered by these temporal limitations. For instance, Winston Churchill once remarked that in the future, fascists will call themselves “anti-fascists”! He seemed to have looked forward 70 years into the far-far future, envisioning a fascist monster — Russia, which dresses up as the conqueror of Nazi Germany during Moscow parades on the 9th of May, but in reality, remains a faithful follower of Hitler and Goebbels. In addition to the Putin mutant, Churchill foresaw the emergence of atomic bombs, drones, and a range of new political and technological phenomena.
History has proven that leaders, dictators, tyrannical states, totalitarian parties, and terrorist social groups that seek to turn their subjects into a homogenous obedient mass of like-minded individuals, fight for power beyond time — both the past and the future.
The formula of the great English visionary and writer George Orwell (1903-1950) has become well-known: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”
The Chekist regime in Russia imposes a single, falsified ideology on its subjects, shaping their view of Russian history, the events of the so-called Great Patriotic War, the actions of Joseph Stalin, and particularly their perception of Ukraine (denying the existence of its people and state) and the nature of its relations with Russia. Manipulations of history, the pervasive lies of official Russian propaganda on Ukrainian topics, have laid the ideological groundwork for the full-scale war of 2022-2023.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the knowledge of the true Ukrainian history, no matter how bitter it may be, the understanding of Russia’s imperial-chauvinistic essence, and the diversity of free Ukrainian discussions over the past 30 years have provided Ukrainians, especially the youth, with an invaluable weapon of truth in the fight against Russian aggression.
If Moscow is powerless in the face of the challenges of the future — a mafia regime of bandits and corrupt officials incapable of even inventing a fairy tale about a communist paradise — and can offer its subordinates nothing but war and plunder, then Ukraine has a clear vision of its future: victory over Russia as a crucial phase in the national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people, initiated as early as 1917; a return to sustainable demographic development indicators; the restoration of the devastated economy and infrastructure; a decisive eradication of Soviet-Russian corrupt and oligarchic practices; accession to NATO and the European Union; transforming Ukraine into a regional democratic European state that, in close alliance with Poland and other countries, will stand as a barrier to Moscow’s hegemony.
The unpredictable nature of the future
In fact, the implementation of these plans for the postwar revival of Ukraine should be within the timeframe of 10-15 years in the foreseeable future, ensuring a reliable existence in the new competitive world that is being born today.
We understand that after the end of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the geopolitical structure of the world will undergo fundamental changes. International organizations such as the UN, IMF, Security Council, WTO, and others, created by the victors over Hitler, will be radically rebuilt or completely disappear. New post-Putin organizations of a conditional global North and global South will be established. The post-Yalta and post-Helsinki world will be destroyed and vanish because even the mention of the Second World War will fade from the memories of people and become distant, like the Napoleonic wars. The bloody Russian-Ukrainian war will be imprinted in the memories and pains of several generations. After the surge of Russian hatred and Chinese aspirations for global domination, dreams of an idyllic conflict-free future and beyond will seem unfounded.
Of course, let us remember that the future, this illogical, mighty, and variegated flow of diverse events, is almost impervious to rational planning from the linear perspective of “common sense.” Who would have thought in 1913 that a year later, a global war would erupt — not an operatic-decorative one, but a cruelly bloody conflict with millions of victims, fundamentally reshaping the global map and determining the trajectory of the 20th century’s development?
Who in 1926 could have predicted the artificially organized Holodomor (genocide) by the authorities in Ukraine in 1932-1933? Who, besides the boldest dreamers, could have believed in the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and the declaration of Ukraine’s independence in the 1980s? Ultimately, who in 2012, during the joyous European Football Championship in Ukraine, could have foreseen Russia’s armed aggression in 2014, the annexation of Crimea, and the military conflict in Donbas? And who could have envisioned a full-scale missile and tank war by Russia against Ukraine in 2022? If such lone prophets existed, and undoubtedly they did, who would have believed them?
Nevertheless, let us try to outline a few possible scenarios of the future — from the darkest to the most optimistic.
Facing defeats on the battlefield and losing the war in Ukraine, Putin and his circle dare to engage in a total nuclear war against Ukraine and NATO countries. Russia, possessing 1420 strategic and nearly 2000 tactical nuclear warheads, and 517 deployed delivery systems, initiates a suicidal attack on Washington, Ottawa, London, Berlin, Paris (or perhaps makes an exception for Macron and Parisian cafes?), Warsaw, Lublin, and Zhytomyr (hateful suppliers of weapons to Ukraine), Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Odesa (not sparing the homeland of Zhvanetsky), Mykolaiv, Rivne, and Ivano-Frankivsk.
And it falls under the retaliatory massive missile-nuclear strike of American forces (3800 nuclear strategic warheads) and 215 British nuclear warheads. If China (with 250 warheads and hypersonic delivery systems) joins this gentleman’s deadly exchange, striking Japan and Australia, and North Korea, not wanting to lag behind its Chinese hosts, launches nuclear missiles towards Seoul — then the end of humanity as a whole is securely ensured. Only cockroaches, rats, and a few spider monkeys in the jungles of the Amazon will survive to attempt the mournful path of evolution once again.
As terrifying as it is to imagine, such a scenario is entirely possible.
Defeat of Russia and removal of Putin
Ukraine achieves a decisive military victory over Russia on the battlefield, while Putin is eliminated or removed from political life by his associates who, in order to save their own skins and the remnants of their state, immediately engage in negotiations with the United States. Russian forces are withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, and a demilitarized zone is established along the state border with a width of 500 km. Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, and Russia pays reparations to Ukraine. The International Tribunal condemns Russian military criminals, ideologues, and propagandists of Putin’s regime. Enthusiasm and optimism prevail among the victorious people of Ukraine, who have a strong desire to heal the wounds inflicted by the war. The majority of refugees return to Ukraine.
The war drags on, there is no winner, Putin remains in power
Heavy battles rage along the entire front line, Ukraine is bloodied, and its resources are on the verge of exhaustion. Pessimistic sentiments prevail in society, accompanied by growing frustration and protest moods. Difficult compromises have to be made, accepting painful territorial losses. The main goal is to preserve the state, initiate the country’s recovery, and strive for NATO membership as the sole guarantee of Ukraine’s security. The struggle for power intensifies in a country experiencing a deep crisis.
Ukraine will lose the war
A desperate struggle for survival ensues, at least in the western part of Ukraine, prompting the deployment of NATO forces (or a UN peacekeeping contingent). The capital is relocated to Lviv as the state suffers incredible demographic and territorial-infrastructure losses, resembling the situation of South Korea.
At least other 8-10 million refugees flee the occupied part of the country. A new Ukrainian Ruin begins, accompanied by the demoralization of the people and a surge in violence.
The defeat of Ukraine signifies a strategic failure for NATO, led by the United States, resulting in the loss of its leading role on the world stage and its relegation to the shadows of isolationism. It represents the victory of the world’s Mordor — the Empire of Evil (China, Russia, Iran, and other countries in the anti-democratic coalition) and a fundamental restructuring of the world order and redistribution of resources, which ultimately will culminate in a global nuclear war.
Many intermediate scenarios can be envisioned, but these four basic hypotheses of the future presented here, in my opinion, are quite acceptable as subjects of discussion. However, in accordance with the law of the irony of history and its devilish grimaces, none of these variants, in my view, will be realized in its pure form.
The skepticism surrounding Ukraine’s victory
However, a strong belief in Ukraine’s strategic victory over Russia has emerged not only among Ukrainian romantics but also among pragmatic Western politicians and military observers — either as an accomplished fact or an inexorable approaching reality. It is noted that Putin’s main objectives in this war have been completely failed: Ukraine, having regained control over 85% of its territory as of 2014, remains a sovereign, independent, and democratic country recognized by the world, inflicting painful blows on Russia.
The theme of Ukraine’s victory over Russia has become central in the discussions among analysts since late 2022 to early 2023. While during the initial months of the war, the prevailing idea among Western elites was to “do everything to prevent Ukraine from losing,” on the eve of 2023, the paradigm shifted to “Ukraine must win.”
However, in this Western honey pot that sweetens Ukrainian pride, there is always a spoonful of skeptical tar. Many analysts lean towards the belief that Ukraine’s victory on the battlefield will not be complete, decisive, or a crushing blow to Russia.
Western strategies for ending the war
Yes, the influential American journal The Foreign Affairs discusses various aspects of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the prospects and parameters of Ukraine’s victory in several articles published at the beginning of 2023. One article that catches attention is the April issue featuring renowned authors Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan, Chairman and member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, under the significant title “The West Needs a New Strategy in Ukraine: A Plan for Getting from the Battlefield to the Negotiating Table” (Richard Haass, Charles Kupchan). The impression is that the article to some extent reflects the views of the White House and is aimed at gauging the reaction of Ukraine, Russia, and the broader international community.
The authors argue that Western policy is divided between the goals of preventing a catastrophe — Ukraine’s defeat in the war and, paradoxically, the catastrophic success of Ukraine on the battlefield where Putin will be forced to escalate military actions. This involves the possibility of a nuclear attack by Russia, which would compel NATO countries to initiate a direct war against Russia.
According to the authors, a complete military victory for Ukraine may be a “Pyrrhic” one considering the over 100,000 casualties and the loss of many elite units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It is reminded that the decline of the Ukrainian economy during the year of the war amounts to 30%, 8 million citizens have left Ukraine, and millions of people have become internally displaced. This war will cause damages of 2.8 trillion dollars to the global economy in 2023, and its consequences will be felt from France to Egypt and Peru.
See also: Ukraine after war: social dimension
The authors conclude that under such circumstances, it is not necessary for Crimea and Donbas to return under Kyiv’s control. They believe that right now (spring 2023), the United States should formulate a strategy for ending the war. When the Ukrainian advance reaches its limit (i.e., achieves the best possible results), negotiations with Russia for peace should commence. The result should be the creation of a demilitarized zone along the contact line under the control of the UN or OSCE, with the involvement of China and India. Negotiations with Russia regarding arms control and the architecture of European security should also begin. The division of Ukraine and the “gift” of Crimea and Donbas to the aggressor do not concern the authors, as they cite the examples of divided Korea and Cyprus as existing cases.
The fear of Ukraine’s defeat and decisive victory
Richard Haas and Charles Kupchan make a cynical conclusion that Ukraine’s goals are in conflict with the interests of the West. If the “peace” concept presented by respected American authors is indeed a “Western plan,” then the failure of this idea lies in the fact that any agreement with Putin, rather than his successor who acknowledges Russia’s defeat, would mean:
1. Allowing an international criminal, the dictator of Russia, to remain in power indefinitely.
2. Granting Putin and his regime the opportunity, after a certain pause and regrouping, to continue the war not only against Ukraine but also against Western countries.
3. Putin’s failure to fulfill any agreements regarding arms control and the establishment of European security architecture, which he vehemently destroyed.
4. Encouraging the Russian aggressor to commit new crimes.
5. The strategic defeat of the collective West by the coalition of Evil.
The authors of this “concept” don’t even promise Ukraine compensation in the form of NATO membership, instead offering vague “security guarantees” from the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, and the Baltic countries. However, no paper “security guarantees” like the Budapest Memorandum will satisfy Ukraine.
Only immediate NATO membership can compensate Ukraine for the losses incurred as a result of the forced compromise. The naivety of experienced politicians who attempt to save the wounded rabid Russian wolf, as it sharply worsens the geostrategic situation for the United States itself in its growing rivalry with China, leaving not only Ukraine but the whole of Europe face to face with an implacable enemy of freedom and democracy.
Similar warnings about the danger of the ultimate outcome of the war were expressed from the right political flank, in a statement by French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. According to her, if Russia wins the war, it will be a catastrophe, but if Ukraine emerges victorious, it will signify “the beginning of the Third World War.”
“If Russia wins the war, it will be a catastrophe because all countries with territorial claims will think that they can resolve them through the use of force. If Ukraine wins, it means that NATO has entered the war because I am convinced that Ukraine cannot achieve a military victory over Russia without NATO’s assistance. And this means that the Third World War will be unleashed,” stated Le Pen.
At the same time, reports emerged that the Pentagon is preparing documents for Russia’s capitulation in the event of Ukraine’s military victory, which American generals believe in. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian government, while repeating its promise to liberate all occupied territories of Ukraine, including Crimea and Donbas, does not go beyond its public statements, although it is hard to believe that such crucial matters are not discussed at Bankova Street. According to the principles of a democratic society, it would have been necessary to initiate a national discourse on these issues to learn the opinions of citizens regarding the parameters of victory. It is worth noting that according to a survey by the Razumkov Centre and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, approximately 92% of Ukrainians believe in Ukraine’s victory over the Russian aggressor (UAINFO.org, May 8, 2023).
To put it bluntly, the West is afraid of both Ukraine’s defeat and its decisive victory, which would not only signify the military defeat of Moscow but also the destruction of the so-called “second Russian republic” — the Putinist federation, which is neither a federation nor a republic but has been transformed by the efforts of the Chekist regime into a terrorist monarchy reminiscent of Ivan the Terrible’s era, armed with nuclear weapons.
Biden, Stoltenberg, and other allies, not to mention Macron, hope to navigate through the storm, defeating Russia without dismantling its internal structure or pushing Putin to the point of nuclear self-destruction. NATO member countries, including Ukraine, have no intention of occupying Russia as the United Nations did with Nazi Germany in 1945. Therefore, in a sense, Mordor may remain unconquerable even after a collapse on the front lines. Events within Russia itself, such as a new Russian revolution, for example, may provide an answer to the path this deeply troubled country will choose for its development.
It is not excluded that in the future and beyond, Russia, engulfed in convulsions of a new revanchism, will remain a source of evil and a deadly threat to Ukraine and other peaceful countries of the world. This would be the worst outcome of this war.
When asked what the victory of Ukraine over Russia would mean, a Polish four-star general replied, “It is a state in which Russia will not be able to attack Ukraine for many years.”
The answer to this question will not be obtained in the future or the distant future, but tomorrow.
Originally posted by Yuriy Shcherbak on Universum. Translated and edited by the UaPosition – Ukrainian news and analytics website