The War in Ukraine: What Happens Next and How to End It
Currently, it seems that the Russian advance has stalled outside of Kiev. It is impossible to say why, but there are two possible reasons. First, the Russians likely expended significant amounts of fuel and ordinance getting to the outskirts of Kiev. Secondly, the Ukrainian army is proving a tougher nut to crack than the Russians thought. However, I think it is improbable that Kiev will be able to hold out despite the admirable efforts of the city’s defenders.
I believe Kiev will fall because the Russian army is a lot bigger than Ukraine’s, and the longer the battle goes on, the more Russia’s numerical advantage will begin to show. However, this does not mean the Russians will have an easy time taking the city. An urban environment is a significant force multiplier for any defender, as evidenced by the battles of Stalingrad, Breslau in 1945, and Grozny after the Soviet Union’s collapse. If the Ukrainians can inflict high enough casualties on the attacker, they may hold the city yet.
Even so, the Russians still have cards to play. After the Russians resupply, they will likely launch a new operation to cut Kiev off from the rest of Ukraine. If successful, the Russians can then assault the city directly, as they did Berlin and Grozny, or they could besiege Kiev and let it whither on the vine.
If the Russians want to assault the city, they will likely use artillery and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to reduce the city block-by-block. However, while doing this may result in the Russians taking the city, it will further damage Russia’s world and domestic image because such an action would result in massive amounts of destruction and civilian and military deaths, and high Russian casualties.
On the other hand, a siege would put a significant amount of pressure on President Zelenskiy to come to the negotiation table without Russia suffering excessive casualties, as it would result in Kiev’s food and other vital stocks of supplies eventually being expended. With no food or any chance of relief, Kiev would have to capitulate.
Those are the only two possibilities I foresee, and I will not make further predictions. However, I can assuredly say that if the Russians think they can buffalo the Ukrainians into the Eurasian Economic Union and Collection Security Treaty Organization, they have another thing coming.
Before the war, there was much doubt as to whether the Ukrainian army would stand. But they proved a lot of people wrong, including yours truly. Their successes have emboldened the Ukrainian fighting man, and he will take to the countryside and fight as a partisan rather than submit to Russian domination. If I know this, Russia’s politicians, soldiers, and diplomats do too. For if they try to break Ukraine, Ukraine will wind up breaking Russia, just as Afghanistan broke the Soviet Union.
The United States would happily fund an anti-Russian Ukrainian insurgency, and there are several reasons to believe it would be successful:
- The Russian army and economy are not as strong as the Red Army or Soviet economy.
- NATO is adjacent to Ukraine, which will make supporting the insurgency far easier than it was post-1945.
- General Secretary Joseph Stalin’s grip on power was far stronger than President Putin’s, meaning Stalin could lead the country in any direction he wanted. Putin does not have that kind of control.
Even so, such a war would be a great tragedy, and it could potentially escalate beyond Ukraine depending on how the Russians react to the Americans and their allies aiding a Ukrainian insurgency. For this reason, the Ukrainians and Russians should immediately hammer out an agreement in which both parties get what they want.
Here is my advice to both parties before they sit down to negotiate.
- President Zelenskiy should commit Ukraine to neutrality
- Recognize the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk and exchange embassies
- Accept Crimea’s current status as Russian territory
- Never develop nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.
In exchange, President Putin should:
- Withdraw his troops from Ukraine
- Respect Ukrainian neutrality and sovereignty
- Compensate Ukraine financially for the loss of Crimea and Donbass
- Compensate Ukraine financially for damage to its infrastructure, or provide direct assistance in repairing it
- Provide humanitarian aid and relief for Ukrainian civilians
- Allow Ukraine to use any lost portage on the Black Sea coast at no cost
- Increase the flow of gas to Ukraine to reduce prices
Another possible compromise would be for Russia to accept Ukraine joining the EU but not joining NATO. In this case, Ukraine would have greater access to the European market, and the Russians would not have to worry about NATO troops being on their doorstep. Finland enjoys such status, and Russia hasn’t suffered any grief because of it.
Such an agreement allows both sides to save face. President Putin can claim victory by saying he kept Ukraine out of America’s orbit and protected Ukraine’s pro-Russian breakaway regions, while President Zelenskiy can say he secured Ukrainian independence against an aggressive neighbor.
If neither side can come to an agreement, both will be ruined. Ukraine will be physically destroyed, and Russia will be economically destroyed. Furthermore, like in 1914, the war may spread beyond Ukraine until it encompasses all of Europe. Events such as these can take on a life of their own, and once they pick up momentum, they are beyond man’s control.
Messrs Putin and Zelenskiy, put a stop to this while it is still possible to do so.
In my next article, I will detail how I think Ukraine should develop after the war.