It’s another heavy day into the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, as reports of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhia facing shelling and subsequently catching fire, flooded media early Friday. While Ukraine warned of a blast ’10 times worse than Chernobyl’, the United States and the UK talked to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called on Russia to end the action.
Meanwhile, reports of airstrikes and shelling in and around major Ukrainian cities such as capital Kyiv and Kharkiv continue, with the West threatening Russia with increasing sanctions.
But what will happen further in this conflict? Could there be an end to it soon, or does the world risk a spillover from this war? News18 provides some possibilities.
In this scenario, Russia topples Ukraine’s government and installs a pro-Russia regime after weeks of intense fighting in Kyiv and other major cities. However, neither Ukraine’s armed forces nor its people are willing to give up the fight. Instead, the Ukrainian people mount a broad-based, well-armed, well-coordinated insurgency against Russia. Although Ukraine’s regular forces have been reduced over time, and major cities such as Kyiv have been occupied, Russia’s victory has been a pyrrhic one, as explored by the Atlantic Council in this report.
The Ukrainian insurgency, in a pattern seen elsewhere in the world, exacts a significant, sustained human and financial toll on Russia, forcing it to devote far more resources over a much longer period of time than it had anticipated. Its problems are exacerbated by external support for the insurgents, with NATO countries providing covert but significant defensive assistance to Ukraine’s resistance. Moscow’s coffers and resolve are depleted as a result of the conflict, which could eventually force a withdrawal, but after a long and protracted war.
India, among other nations, has repeatedly called for a possible resolution through the path of ‘dialogue and diplomacy’. After all that has happened, could such a direction actually be the future?
Despite the lack of clear success between the nations and escalating violence, talks between the nations have went on. Ukraine and Russia agreed to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians on Thursday, in a second round of talks since Moscow invaded last week, negotiators on both sides said. The talks between the Russian and Ukrainian officials took place on the Poland-Belarus border on the eighth day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the BBC, feelers are being sent out to Moscow, while France President Macron has remained in touch with Putin. The key question is whether the West can provide what diplomats call a “off ramp,” an American term for a major highway exit. Diplomats say it is critical that the Russian leader understands what it would take for Western sanctions to be lifted in order for a face-saving deal to be possible, the report said.
WAR BETWEEN NATO AND RUSSIA
The most dangerous scenario for Europe’s and the world order’s future is one in which the Ukraine conflict sets the stage for a direct military conflict between NATO and Russia, the Atlantic Council report states. There are several paths that can lead to this result, including:
NATO could decide to escalate its involvement in Ukraine by attempting to impose a no-fly zone or other form of direct intervention. For the time being, the United States and other NATO allies have ruled out implementing a no-fly zone, but that could change if Russia continues to bombard civilians. Russia would be forced to choose between retreating and directly engaging alliance military forces. If it opts for the latter, the risk of escalating armed conflict between NATO and Russia increases.
Russia could inadvertently strike a NATO member’s territory, for example, through imprecise targeting or incorrect identification of friend and foe, prompting the alliance to respond with countermeasures. (Russia has already attacked targets near the Polish border.) As the Russian military’s stock of precision-guided munitions depletes, the risk of such an accident resulting in an unintentional escalation with NATO grows. This scenario would see the start of direct conflict, possibly air-to-air or air-to-ground, in Ukraine’s border regions. As a result, a tit-for-tat cycle of strike and counterstrike could begin, leading to open hostilities.
Putin could also threaten to send troops into Nato-member Baltic states like Lithuania to establish a land corridor with the Russian coastal exclave of Kaliningrad. This would be extremely dangerous and could lead to a war with NATO. An attack on one member is an attack on all, according to Article 5 of the military alliance’s charter, the BBC reports.
That Russia would be able to pacify an entire country roused to self-defense may not be the immediately possibility, the New York Times said in a report. So a world of guerrilla warfare backed by the West and run by a Ukrainian government-in-exile looms in a future where Russia wins the war outright, Ross Douthat opines.
To gain such a ground in the first place, Russia would have escalates its military operation. With an increase in artillery and rocket strikes, air strikes, and cyber attacks, Kyiv falls in some days. The government is deposed and replaced by a pro-Moscow regime. President Zelenskyy forms an exile government in abstentia, and Putin declares victory and withdraws some forces, leaving just enough to maintain control.
The least likely scenario is the ouster of Putin. Thousands of people are taking to the streets to protest the war. And, while it’s too early to tell, the resistance makes one wonder if such a mass movement could eventually bring Putin’s reign to an end.
By March 1, the ruble had cratered, losing one-quarter of its value, and the central bank shuttered stock trading in Moscow through Tuesday. The public rushed to withdraw cash from ATMs, and Aeroflot, the national airline, canceled all its flights to Europe after countries banned Russian planes from using their air space. Concern about travel was so great that some people rushed to book seats on the few international flights still operating. “I’ve become one concentrated ball of fear,” the owner of a small advertising agency in Moscow, Azaliya Idrisova told the New York Times. She said she planned to depart for Argentina in the coming days and was not sure whether her clients would still pay her.
Thus, the Russian public stands to lose from the war more than estimated. Whether this could pave way for new leadership in the country, remains to be seen.
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