A concrete step is yet to be taken towards ending the war between Ukraine and Russia. On the contrary, both sides are more entrenched than ever, and NATO is making statements emphasizing the ambition and determination to continue the war. We saw that Türkiye, and lastly China’s peace initiatives produced no result. There are concerns that even the grain corridor deal will make it to next year. If there is no very extraordinary development, it seems that this war will not end unless either Russia or Ukraine gives up for sure. But it just seems that way. It might be more appropriate to add, “in the best-case scenario.” Because one of the worst-case scenarios is the likelihood that this war will not remain limited to Ukraine and Russia, and spread to the depths of Europe or towards the Pacific. This will then be none other than that notorious World War III. Thus, it would not be exaggerating to say it will be impossible to hold such a big war at the conventional level, and that it will evolve into a nuclear war. Does this mean that if the war is concluded with one side’s victory, it will result in peace?
If the war is won by Ukraine, backed by the West’s political and diplomatic support, and equipped with its military capacity, what will happen if it saves Crimea and Donbas, and defeat the Russian army? For example, can we expect in this case that Russia will sheepishly accept defeat, sit at the table knowing its global reputation will be shattered never to be mended again, and worst of all, accepting that it will be divided into pieces within three-five years, and join in the negotiations concerning the amount of war indemnity? Considering the statements by the highest-level Russian officials, this seems impossible. In such a case, Russians will most likely launch their nuclear weapon capacity. Vladimir Putin openly said a world without Russia has no meaning, sharp statements by top-level bureaucrats such as Medvedev, Lavrov, and Peskov, signaling a nuclear threat, reveal exactly this. In brief, Russia has declared that it will never be the defeated party in this war, and if the situation gets out of hand, it will launch a nuclear war even if it means wiping out humanity. It would be wrong to consider this as just a threat. NATO members time and again claim Russia is bluffing. This is extremely risky. We must remember that Russia does not joke.
What will happen if Russia wins? Russia is clearly far from the objectives it declared at the start of the war. Its achievements are limited to keeping control over Crimea and taking full control over the east of Dnieper following the spring offensive after long preparation efforts. The likelihood of an absolute victory for Russia seems quite low – for now, at least. If it manages this spring to repel Ukrane’s counter-offensive on Crimea and starts to take full control over the east of the Dnieper, the U.S. and NATO will boost the capacity of their military support to Ukraine, and use more lethal, destructive weapons on the ground to hurt Russia. In brief, the West will do everything in its power to prevent Russia from winning, to ensure the war is prolonged, and Ukraine becomes a new Afghanistan for Russia. Despite this, let’s assume Russia wins an absolute victory and takes full control over Ukraine. In such a case, the West will withdraw to a certain extent and likely launch scenarios that will drive Russia to war again on other fronts. Russia, aware of what will befall it in the case of any gaps, will attempt to fortify its own hinterlands, especially areas it believes its influence has weakened. This is not expected to be through gentle means. The Caucasus and Turkestan regions are the first to come to mind. Yet, these alternative conflict areas are unlikely to be activated while the Russia-Ukraine war is ongoing. I am just concerned that tensions between Russia and Japan may be escalated despite the ceasefire, causing close combat to resume.
In short, it seems this war will never end. This is not a war that was launched with the intent of ending it. Quite the contrary, it is a war that started to grow and spread. Sad but true. It’s not like we can say all is quiet on the West front.