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How will Russia’s war with Ukraine end? Here are 5 possible outcomes

Civilians and soldiers with assault rifles during training on March 5, 2022, in Lviv, Ukraine.

Europa Press | Getty Images

Less than two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the country’s people and armed forces continue to mount a staunch — and undeniably brave — resistance against Russian forces.

But for all Ukraine’s heart and courage in facing down multiple, sustained attacks from Russia’s military in the north, east and south of the country, many analysts and strategists believe it is only a matter of time before Ukraine is overwhelmed by Moscow’s military might.

What comes next for Ukraine could be bleak, these experts say, with many expecting a long and drawn-out conflict, noting that even in the most positive scenario — that Russia withdraws its troops and Ukraine remains a sovereign nation — Europe is unlikely to return to the pre-war status quo.

CNBC takes a look at the possible outcomes for Ukraine and what might happen in each of them:

1. Patchy control

2. Purge and partition?

Some analysts agree that any patchy control over Ukraine by Russia could lead to some kind of partitioning of the country, particularly as Russia becomes firmly entrenched in eastern Ukraine — particularly in the Donbas region where it recognized the independence of two pro-Russian republics ahead of its invasion of the wider country.

Taras Kuzio, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, wrote in an article for the Atlantic Council on Thursday that Moscow has indicated that it is aiming at “the complete military conquest of Ukraine followed by a partition and a massive purge of the civilian population.”

“Putin’s apparent objective is to eradicate all vestiges of Ukrainian identity while condemning the country to a grim future as a military dictatorship locked firmly inside a new Russian Empire. This nightmarish vision tallies closely with Putin’s own stated objectives for the current military campaign along with his long record of public contempt and animosity towards Ukrainian statehood,” he said.

There are many questions over who could lead a loyalist regime in Ukraine, one that could resemble that of Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko. Kuzio noted that there has been speculation of Moscow seeking to install former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was stripped of his powers by Ukrainian lawmakers during the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution and fled Kyiv for Russia.

“This would be entirely in keeping with Kremlin propaganda, which has insisted for the past eight years that Yanukovych was illegally removed by a Western-backed coup,” Kuzio noted.

3. Insurgency

4. NATO vs. Russia

Such a situation is a tinderbox in Europe, Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group’s president said in emailed comments Monday. He noted that it’s a “non-starter” for the West to send troops to fight alongside Ukrainians or to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine “because that leads to direct confrontation between NATO and Russian troops and accordingly risks World War III.”

“Anything short of that is fair game: you can send fighter jets and other advanced weapons systems to the Ukrainians, provide Ukraine with real time intelligence on the disposition of Russian forces, and take economic measures without limitation to destroy the Russian economy,” he said.

But Bremmer believes that Putin still perceives this kind of help “as acts of war taken by the United States and NATO allies against Russia, meriting retaliation.”

Bremmer said Russia may therefore resort to more indirect attacks including cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, disinformation campaigns and even the possible sanctioning of terrorism in and against NATO countries.

“It remains highly unlikely Russia would launch direct military attacks against NATO forces, given that’s understood by NATO to be a tripwire for a broader war … but support for Chechen terrorist attacks into frontline NATO states delivering all these weapons? That’s another matter. NATO would be unlikely to respond directly with military strikes against a nuclear power; the only way to prepare is greater intelligence efforts to prevent or at least blunt the effectiveness of the efforts,” Bremmer said.

5. A miracle?

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How will Russia’s war with Ukraine end? Here are 5 possible outcomes

2022-03-08 08:11:38

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