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April 2022

How Does the Russian-Ukraine War End?

How Does the Russian-Ukraine War End?

                        Robert A. Levine

There are many different possible scenarios about how the Russian-Ukrainian war might end. The main factor standing in the way of a settlement is the fact that Putin cannot lose face, unless he dies or is deposed, both of which seem unlikely. Thus far, Russian troops have performed abominably, being unable to conquer Kviv or any major city aside from Kherson. They have succeeded in destroying Ukrainian infrastructure and residences in many cities and are guilty of committing horrendous war crimes which Russian propaganda has been unable to keep hidden from the rest of the world. Aside from other autocratic nations, the world seems to be fairly solidly opposed to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the damage they have wrought and the innocent civilians including children that they have killed.

The fact is, however, that Putin doesn’t give a damn about his or Russia’s reputation. He just wants to end this” special operation” with what he can label a victory for his military and the Russian people. Unless this new focus on the Donbas region by the Russian military rewards Putin with some significant territorial gains, Putin is going to have difficulty claiming victory despite the loss of Russian lives and military equipment. A revolt against Putin or his assassination by his military or FSB personnel would probably end the war, but appears very unlikely. His control of the Russian propaganda machine and the media have heightened his approval ratings among the Russian public who have supported his actions against the ”Nazi” regime in Ukraine.

Putin stepping down from his position as president voluntarily is also improbable. If there is a stalemate in the conflict, it is hard to imagine Putin allowing the special operation to continue for years, draining the Russian treasury of what little it has, and losing more Russian manpower. Another consideration if for Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons to try and end the war, either bombing a Ukrainian city or a relatively uninhabited area as a warning to Zelinsky and the Ukrainian government. Of course, that would earn Putin even more approbation from the nations of the world, perhaps even from China.

Another way this war could be ended would be by a major power or an ally of Russia stepping in and suggesting negotiations, either at this point before the battle for the Donbas begins or if a stalemate is reached. The United States would be unable to suggest that since Putin has branded the U.S. and the West as the real participants in the current conflict. China and Xi would be the perfect interlocutors as they are seen as allies of Russia and a world power. They could make it seem as if Russia has been winning by destroying Ukrainian cities and Xi wants to end the bloodshed and destruction. This would certainly make China be perceived positively in the world’s eyes and would be a great triumph for Chairman Xi, particularly with Chinese Communist Party elections on the horizon. The question is whether Xi is farsighted enough to realize the benefits that would accrue to him and to China. At the moment, the CCP is spouting Putin’s lies and at least giving him political support.

Orban of Hungary and Erdogan of Turkey could also try to intercede but do not appear weighty enough to influence Russia. If no leader is able to intercede, one can see this war dragging on and on, since Putin seems to have no regard for the lives of Russian soldiers or Ukrainian civilians. Putin just wants to save face at this point and be able to claim a victory of some sort for a “special operation” that he never should have started in the first place.

www.robertlevinebooks.com

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What Happened to the Brotherhood of Ukrainians and Russians?

What Happened to the Brotherhood of Ukrainians and Russians?

                        Robert A. Levine  4-7-22

We see the bestiality of Russian soldiers every day on television as they kill innocent civilians, destroy housing, torture people, loot and rape women. This is not all Putin but must be built into the Russian psyche. These are both conscripts and battle hardened soldiers who perceive the Ukrainians as their mortal enemies, deserving of Russian wrath. How can they so brutalize innocent civilians who in the past were considered the brothers of the Russian nation and whose many citizens speak Russian? All along, Putin has claimed that Ukraine was not a nation but a part of Russia.

Have the Russian soldiers succumbed to the unending lies and propaganda of the Russian state depicting the Ukrainians as Nazis, in spite of the fact their leader Zelinsky is Jewish and was elected by a wide margin as president of Ukraine in a free democracy? Is it revenge for seeing their companions killed by a supposed inferior force and losing battle after battle to the Ukrainian military. What do they gain by destroying cities and homes, killing and torturing citizens and earning undying hatred from the Ukrainians? If the Russians win the war it will never end, as an insurgency will flourish in the soil of hatred that the Russians have fertilized and planted in Ukraine.

The big question now is how can the war end without Putin losing face? Though the Russians have destroyed many cities and villages and killed numerous civilians, they have taken no territory in the center or west of Ukraine. They may be martialing their forces for all out pushes in the east and the south, to cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea and build a land bridge between the Donbas region and Crimea. But will they be able to win these battles and if they succeed will they be able to hold the area against Ukrainian onslaughts.

The war in Ukraine has demonstrated how disorganized and chaotic the Russian military is when fighting a smaller and supposedly weaker enemy. How would their conventional military stack up against NATO forces without using atomic weapons? Most likely they would soon be routed. It appears that the claws and teeth of the Russian bear are decayed and cannot stand up against a determined adversary. Unfortunately, Russia can always fall back on a threat to use nuclear weapons if their military is unable to obtain its objective. But it is hard to see an end game to their war against Ukraine without a decline in status for Putin and the Russian leadership. And perhaps at some point, the Russian people will see through the fog of lies and propaganda that has been fostered upon them by the Russian state. Will there be a reckoning?

Robert A. Levine

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