By Todd Davis
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV.
Every war eventually comes to an end. Years ago, the fate of countries and empires could be decided on a single afternoon; Hastings in 1066 transferred the rulership of England from Saxons to Normans, Waterloo in 1815 brought down the French Empire and restored the monarchy. The fate of millions was decided in the span of a few hours. Beginning in 1914, modern nation states, with their huge populations that could be mobilized for total war and vast industrial resources to sustain a military commitment over years, allowed countries to take a punch. Wars would no longer be decided over a single battle or even a campaign. Victory and defeat would only be won or lost over the span of years as the very fiber and soul of a nation was broken down until, at last, one side could no longer take the misery. Peace always comes, eventually, and as the current war between Ukraine and NATO against Russia enters its second year, we might begin to ask, what does the eventual peace agreement look like and how will it change the world?
There is no hyperbole in saying the results from this war will alter world geopolitics for generations to come. Had the conflict been limited to a regional disagreement between Ukraine and Russia, the stakes would have been constrained, likely not even felt by the vast majority of the world. That changed when NATO decided to intervene. As is so often the case, localized hot spots expand, engulf, and consume the desires and ambitions of Great Powers, or nations attempting to act like one. NATO entered the war on Ukraine’s side and now is inextricably tied to its outcome. A defeat for Ukraine is a defeat for NATO. That will have worldwide ramifications. And so, NATO is doing everything it can to avoid that outcome, at least optically. However, the language NATO leaders use is far different from what these countries are doing individually. Russia has instituted a war economy in terms of military production, integration between civilian manufacturing and weapon orders, and early mobilization. With the exception of Poland, not a single NATO country has done anything remotely like this.
War, despite the images of cavalry charges, waves of bombers, or armored spearheads almost always comes down to logistics. Who has the most butter, bullets, and bombs wins. Russia has more of that than Ukraine. Nothing is going to change that equation in the near future. With that in mind, here are the possible scenarios for peace in Ukraine.
The Zelensky plan
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has stated, too many times to count, that the war goal for Ukraine is to drive Russia back to the 2014 borders. This means that not only must the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson that voted to unify with Russia and were later annexed must be conquered, but so must Crimea. In addition, Ukraine would demand Russia pay trillions in reparations. Ukraine has not been able to conduct a successful offensive since Russian partial mobilization brought force equity to the front. During the initial Russian intervention, only 150,000 men were sent into Ukraine joining the 40,000-50,000 members of the DPR and LPR militias. In retrospect, this was an incredible underestimation of the numbers needed for such a large front. Putin himself has now admitted this was a mistake. Over the last year, in particular, over fall and winter, Russia has trained up its mobilized reserves and now has over half a million men massed against Ukraine. Meanwhile, the AFU has been mauled at the seminal Battle of Bakhmut. Zelensky recently signed an order that requires boys as young as 16 to register for the draft. Military press gangs roam Ukraine forcibly grabbing men and teens from the streets to feed into the ravenous war machine. Ukrainian losses have been staggering. According to a leaked estimate from Israeli Intelligence Mossad, they have suffered 150,000 casualties. Some reports put the number over 200,000.
Whatever the actual number, Ukraine has suffered grievous losses and its manpower is not infinite as the recent conscription orders show. Even more difficult for Ukraine is the lack of munitions. Ukraine has no functioning defense industry. After a steady campaign over the span of months by Russian Aerospace forces the Ukrainian economy is, for all intents and purposes, wrecked. All missiles, artillery, tanks, shells, and infantry fighting vehicles must be imported from NATO. Ukraine might scrape together enough men for another offensive, but arming and supplying them for the sustained drive it would take to reach Crimea is unrealistic bordering on fantastical. No serious military analyst believes Ukraine can take Crimea. Further, this doesn’t even take into account that Russia views Crimea as sacred. Sevastopol is the only warm-water naval base available for Russia. Crimea has been Russian for hundreds of years. It will do everything to defend it. Russia agreeing to any peace deal involving the loss of Crimea and trillions in war reparations isn’t grounded in reality. Nuclear war is more likely. A more limited offensive designed to conquer the Russian unified regions is equally bleak. Russia has spent months fortifying the front. Multiple lines, defense in depth, gun emplacements, and fortified positions would make any attack here costly to the extreme for Ukraine. The Zelensky plan is not feasible.
Armistice and Korean scenario
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Deputy Chairman of the Security Council and likely frontrunner to eventually replace Putin as president of the Russian Federation, claimed that Ukraine was seeking a scenario where the country is divided into two parts following an armistice and the establishment of a demilitarized zone. The 1950s war in Korea ended in this inconclusive manner. Although Ukraine publicly stated that this wasn’t an acceptable resolution, it is likely that, at this point, such a divide would be a best-case scenario for many within the Biden administration and NATO military apparatus.
Russia seems unlikely to accept such a treaty unless its current position on the battlefield suffers a sudden reversal. Medvedev characterized the Korean scenario as “wishful thinking on the part of Ukraine and it would not be possible because Russia is a state with full sovereignty and the most formidable weapons”. Russia didn’t go through mobilization, increase weapon production, and take significant battlefield losses to accept what amounted to a worse version of their proposed peace plan offered back in March 2022. Leaving Ukraine a direct satellite of NATO would fail one of the key stated goals of the Special Military Operation, disarming Ukraine so it could not pose a threat to Russian territory. A fully armed Ukraine could not be trusted to respect the newly annexed territory of the Russian Federation.
Even if events on the battlefield unfolded, requiring significant NATO involvement and escalation, that would make Russia grimace and stomach this scenario, for the world this resolution is the most dangerous. Dividing Ukraine into a pro-NATO country centered around Kiev and the unrecognized by NATO annexed regions within the Russian Federation ensures that this would remain a hot spot for years, perhaps decades to come. Such a divide would require the largest military presence and build up on a border since the Cold War. America had a massive economic edge over the Soviet Union but with the globalization and outsourcing of American industry that advantage no longer exists. In fact, America and NATO have already cut deeply into its collective military surplus funding this war. Entering an arms race east of Kiev isn’t in American interests who consider China their primary priority. Finally, any peace agreement made under these conditions virtually guarantees that a new conflict will break out in this region. What happens if NATO attempts to put nuclear weapons into Ukraine? A renewal of this conflict on these terms would be dancing with Armageddon.
For most of the world, the best case ending to the war is the unconditional surrender of Ukraine. In this scenario, Russia will likely annex further parts of Ukraine, perhaps pushing to the Dnieper in the east and taking Odessa, a key port city with a majority pro-Russian population. Bringing Odessa into the Russian Federation would landlock Ukraine and turn the Black Sea into a Russian-Turkish lake. Russia would install a puppet government in what remained of Ukraine and the state would now serve as a buffer between Russia and NATO. The terms of this surrender would certainly include some type of accord between Russia and NATO.
A Russian victory along these lines would have significant geopolitical ramifications. NATO would suffer an irreplaceable loss of prestige after investing so much into the defeat of Russia. European nations would fear Russia. Russia would have enhanced its standing on the world stage. Nations like Hungary and Turkey might leave NATO altogether and join Russia in a growing anti-NATO anti-EU economic and military bloc built around BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The Global South would experience a resurgence as it would be further emboldened to break out of the post-colonial paradigms that still dominate its politics as these countries see new viable options outside of American hegemony.
Needless to say, none of this would be acceptable to the United States or NATO. Russia would be unable to impose an unconditional surrender on Ukraine without taking significantly more land, likely driving to the Dnieper and directly threatening Kiev. And so, the question becomes, exactly how much are the combatants willing to sacrifice to prevent or achieve this outcome? Is Ukrainian victory, or at least stalemate as important to NATO as the Crimean red line is to Russia? Philosophically yes, but whether or not NATO has the collective will is another matter entirely. That leads to the final straight out of a spy novel outcome.
Polish intervention and protectorate
Poland has quietly been gearing up for war. Real war, not the show war the rest of NATO has been engaging in. Recently, it began mobilizing its army, increasing its size from 150,000 to almost 300,000. Defense spending for Poland in relation to its GDP has risen from 2% to 4% last year and is expected to surpass 5% in 2023. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki appeared on Face the Nation taking an aggressive, militaristic stance against Russia that foreshadows increased Polish involvement and escalation. Poland already has significant volunteer forces fighting in Ukraine. With manpower and equipment shortages fatally weakening Ukraine, Poland appears ready and willing to step up as the next nation to be thrown in front of the Russian behemoth.
One of two main problems Ukraine has when it’s supplied with NATO equipment is that it lacks both the training and logistical systems to use these weapons to their maximum capacity. Poland has neither of these problems since its army is fully trained on all NATO equipment and almost every weapon coming into Ukraine now goes into Poland first. Poland would be significantly easier to supply and arm than Ukraine.
Direct intervention by Poland is risky for both the Poles and NATO. Poland is a full-fledged member of the alliance, in many ways the key member on the Eastern Front. It would be extremely difficult for Poland to start fighting Russia without all of NATO coming along. And while some might never believe that the world would end in a nuclear exchange over Warsaw, World War 2 started there and based on current tensions London and Washington would be compelled to go all in again.
The globalists running these countries certainly don’t want that. Small wars are good for business, large, catastrophic wars aren’t good for anyone. Recently the RAND Corporation, a globalist think tank, published a report stating that long-term war in Ukraine is against US interests. America has about reached the point where the cost is outweighing any benefits from the conflict. This is by no means a unanimous assessment within the Washington power base as the globalists want total Russia defeat (although fail to demonstrate how that is possible) with Senator Lindsay Graham recently saying more tanks, missiles, and planes to defeat Putin. When you factor in the Republican party, large segments that now want to defund Ukraine and get out of the conflict entirely, the United States is deeply divided on how far it wants to go.
Bringing us to a scenario that at first glance might seem improbable, but upon further scrutiny may provide both sides with what they want out of this affair. After the fall of Bakhmut, Russian forces will push toward the Dnieper. An already spent AFU very well might begin to rout. Ukraine has taken such punishment over the last year, a bloodletting that will get worse in 2023, that once it starts to go bad it will snowball, and the collapse could come unbelievably fast. NATO can’t accept the complete fall of Ukraine. This would be a blow far too severe to stomach. If Eastern Ukraine is being lost then having Poland, which will have a ready to go combat force of up to 300,000 men enter Western Ukraine would be a safeguard to prevent the entire country from falling. In order to prevent Polish, and therefore ultimately NATO, forces from engaging with Russia on Ukrainian soil, Western Ukraine could be annexed by Poland either directly into the Polish homeland or as some kind of protectorate.
Such a resolution benefits both sides; Russia gets all the land it started the Special Military Operation to defend plus a new border going all the way to the Dnieper. There is no demilitarized zone because Western Ukraine is now Poland and an uneasy state of affairs between Russia and Poland already existed before February 2022. Poland, a more belligerent anti-Russian country than either Germany or France, with its increased size and standing would become the premier European military nation within NATO. Having a larger, ascendent Poland as a bulwark against Russian interests would mollify the Neocons. President Biden, who is going to have a hotly contested election in 2024 within a deeply divided country, doesn’t want endless war and sacrifice for Ukraine hanging over his presidential run. Perhaps not a neat bow, but a bow wrapped around the conflict that most sides can live with.
Not everyone would be happy with this accord, Germany in particular would be distraught. Poland would have, for next several generations at least, supplanted them in terms of power and influence in central and eastern Europe. There isn’t much Germany can do about this and would have to grimace and go along with it, much like they have with the American bombing of its Nord Stream pipeline as outlined by Seymour Hersh. One gets the feeling that none of these countries in NATO actually like each other but are bound together in alliances from which they can’t extract themselves.
No one loses quite like Ukraine here since there will be no Ukraine. Then again, the time when Ukraine had the autonomy to direct its future ended when it allowed NATO to wage a proxy war through the country. History has told us that, time after time, the United States abandons countries like this when they no longer serve a purpose or have become too costly to support. The best peace deal Ukraine was going to get was on the table back in March of 2022. It allowed Western diplomats to sabotage that deal. A nation can only avoid an unconditional surrender (or partition) while it still has an army in the field. Every month that passes degrades the AFU making it less likely Ukraine can salvage anything from this war. Zelensky should put aside pie-in-the-sky thinking about retaking Crimea and focus on saving what he can because time isn’t on his side. What remains of Ukraine will be smaller and smaller until, like Keyser Söze, with a puff, it’s gone.
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