Suppose Russia wins – what happens next?

 

Ukraine in 2021

We still cannot break the advantage of the Russian army in artillery and in manpower, and this is very felt in the battles, especially in the Donbass – Peski, Avdiivka, and other directions. It’s just hell. It can’t even be described in words.   ==Volodymyr Zelensky.

If a problem cannot be solved, it may not be a problem, but a fact.  ==Donald Rumsfeld.

I think the Russians have a good chance of winning their war in Ukraine, for reasons I’ve stated in previous posts.  You may disagree.  But suppose, for the sake of argument, I’m right.  What would happen next?

The first thing to understand is that, at this point, Russians are not interested in negotiation, only in terms of surrender.  And the terms offered at the outset of the war may not be enough.

Historical map of Ukraine

Before invading, the Russian leaders demanded that Ukraine recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea and the independence of the secessionist Donbas republics, and renounce future membership in NATO.  But that is no longer enough to satisfy.

Russia is extending its operations to absorb the pink and blue areas on the map at the right, which are the areas with the heaviest concentrations of Russian speakers.  It is issuing passports to those who desire Russian citizenship.

This indicates a plan to carve out a “new Russia” from Ukrainian territory which would extend from Russia to Transnistria on the Moldovan border.

Russia’s demands go beyond Ukraine.  Russia’s goal is to push back all NATO bases and installations from which NATO forces could strike at Russia.  This includes missile sites in Poland and Rumania.  Presumably it would include Sweden, Finland or any other U.S. ally that becomes a site for NATO strike weapons.

The ultimate goal, which Russia shares with China, is to crack global U.S. military and financial domination and replace it with a balance of power that includes Russia, China, the USA and maybe other countries, such as India.

A vain hope

Compromise is no longer possible.  Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov say that US American leaders are “not agreement-capable.”  They say the USA and NATO allies have ignored their red lines for years, and the time for talk is past.  A recent speech by General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, the Russian minister of defense, gives a good idea of the Russian point of view.

The main advantage Russia has in Ukraine is superior firepower.  The USA and its allies are drawing down their arsenals to supply Ukraine and will not be able to quickly replenish them.

Russia claims to be producing as much ammunition and armaments as it is expending.  If Russia wins, this claim will have been proved right.

Where does this leave Poland, Rumania and other NATO allies?  Their governments joined NATO because they believed the USA could protect them from Russia.  This belief will have been proved wrong.  The choices for Poland and Rumania will be to submit to Russia’s demands or to fight at a worse disadvantage than Ukraine had (except for being less corrupt than Ukraine).

The European nations would have to face the fact that they must either be willing to make peace with Russia or be prepared to depend on themselves for defense.  Ideally, they would do both, as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland did during the Cold War era.

At the same time, economic warfare against Russia is failing.  Economic sanctions have backfired.  The USA’s NATO allies are hurting much more than Russia is.

∞∞∞

If Russia wins

A sample failing industry

Europeans already have greatly suffered from sanctions and it would have been all in vain.

Purchases of Russian oil and gas would be on much worse terms than before.  Supplies may not even be available at 2021 levels because the Russians will have found new customers.

The businesses that went bankrupt, or lost market share, would not automatically bounce back when peace is restored.

The leaders of most countries, not just in Europe, will want to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports and foreign financing, but they would find this is not so easy to do.  Of course this would be true throughout the world, not just Europe.

There would be a political backlash against interventionist European governments.  Both the anti-war left and nationalist right would gain, but I believe the nationalists would gain more.  The governments of Hungary and Serbia would be vindicated for sitting out the war.  At the same time, there would be a drive in the European Union to punish these two nations for their reluctance to join in.

Russia would become more even more authoritarian than it is now. The rulers of Russia would no longer have any reason to heed Western liberal human rights advocates. The war provided an excuse to crack down on dissent, and the continuing conflict would provide a need and an excuse to continue to keep the lid on.

Vladimir Putin would seek national unity based on support of traditional religion, Russian nationalism and the patriarchal family.  He would  seek political allies in Western countries based on his support of these values.

The USA would be a sore loser, if history is any guide.  In the Chinese civil war, the Chinese Communists defeated the U.S.-backed Nationalists, who relocated their government to the island of Taiwan.  For roughly a quarter century, the U.S. government recognized the Nationalists as the legitimate government of China and waged covert war and economic war against the Communist government.  The end of the conflict game only when President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saw the advantage of splitting China from its alliance with the Soviet Union.

I can see an equivalent thing happening with Ukraine.  The United States would very likely refuse to recognize the Russian conquests and insist that the rump government in Kiev was the legitimate ruler of all Ukraine.

Some U.S. military analysts hope that the Russians would try to subdue all Ukraine and get bogged down struggling with a Ukrainian resistance movement.  My guess is that the Russians understand this.  They would have sense enough to leave the Ukrainian parts of Ukraine alone, so long as there aren’t any NATO bases or strike forces there.

Is this Ukraine’s future?

Ukraine would be ruined.  It was one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in Europe to begin with.  Now it would be cut off from its coastline.  There already are millions of Ukrainian refugees in Europe, and not all of them are women, children and the elderly.  Their numbers would vastly increase.

The worst possibility for Ukraine is a breakdown in the social and governmental order, with local militias exercising more power than the central government.  The best is that the United States would redouble its efforts to help Ukraine, in order to keep it as a bastion against Russia.

Russia’s ex-President Dmitry Medvedev floated the possibility of a  partition of all of Ukraine.  I don’t think this is likely because trying to pacify the Ukrainian part of Ukraine would be a trap, an open-ended military quagmire war.

But if there is a breakdown in  social order in Ukraine, neighboring countries might send in peacekeepers.  I can imagine Poland “temporarily” occupying the part of Ukraine that used to be part of Poland.

Members of the fascistic Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists would be out for revenge—maybe on the Russians who defeated them, maybe on the Ukrainians and NATO supporters who betrayed them, maybe both.  They would be armed with advanced weapons, some given to the Azov fighters, some bought up on the black market.  It wouldn’t be surprising if they became the new terrorist threat, equivalent to the Palestine Liberation Organization in Europe in the 1980s.

Americans would ask: Who lost Ukraine?  After World War One, few Germans could understand why their army, which was claiming victory after victory, suddenly surrendered.  The generals must have been stabbed in the back, they concluded.  Likewise Americans, saturated with war propaganda, would find it hard to understand why Ukraine lost.

One reason American politicians are so reluctant to admit military defeat today is that they remember the reaction of Americans to defeat or stalemate in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.  President Putin can’t afford to admit defeat, but neither can any incumbent Democrat.

Republicans would blame liberals and Democrats for being weak, although they aren’t.  Democrats would claim Trump supporters are a pro-Putin fifth column.  Past history indicates that scholars, journalists and politicians who analyzed the situation correctly will be canceled, and those responsible for the disaster will continue to be respected.

The USA would still be a global superpower. U.S. global power has many sources.  The most important one is the U.S. lock on the world financial system, but there are others—the ability of the U.S. Navy and Air Force to project power against weak nations, the Central Intelligence Agency to spread propaganda and engineer uprisings and coup, the American press and entertainment media to create a favorable picture of the United States.  All these pillars of American power would remain in place.

The Biden administration has abused its financial power by forcing other nations to enforce U.S. economic sanctions and by stealing the financial assets of nations that defy it.  The sanctions war has brought the day closer when resentful foreign nations will rise up against U.S.  But there’s no telling when that day will be.  If it were possible to know for certain, the uprising would already have happened.

∞∞∞

What I think.

All this is an argument for staying the course until Ukrainian victory is won.  Unless the war is un-winnable.  In which case it becomes an argument for cutting losses and ending the bloodshed as soon as possible.

Russian artillery in action

The Russian advance is slow, and some say that shows Russia is stalemated or losing.  But as General Kutuzov or General Grant could have told them, victory is achieved by destroying the enemy’s forces, not gaining territory, and that is what Russia is achieving.

Recently Ukraine escalated the war.  It conducted sabotage behind enemy lines, launched drone attacks on Crimea, and bombarded the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  It’s likely, though unproven, that Ukraine was behind the attempted murder of the Russian nationalist Alexander Dugin.  Ukrainian agents murdered the Russian nationalist Daria Dugina.

All these things seem to be an indication that Ukraine is losing on the battlefield, and is preparing for an insurgency, while also trying to draw in the USA to a more direct role in the conflict.

But Russia is keeping most of its forces in reserve.  It is prepared to meet Ukrainian and NATO escalation step by step, all the way up to mutual assured destruction.

Russia and China say they want a “multi-polar” international order, based on a balance of power of regional imperialisms, to replace the “uni-polar” global system dominated by the USA.   Too bad for Ukraine and Taiwan!  Not to mention the subject peoples of Central Asia, Xinjiang and Tibet.

But a multi-polar order is feasible and at least offers the possibility of cooperating on urgent global problems such as global warming, exhaustion of natural resources and pandemic disease.

The U.S. economic system, political system and national unity are all more fragile than many of us Americans realize.  So is the “rules-based” global order that the U.S. elite is trying to impose.  We Americans need to regroup and rebuild.

LINKS

Welcoming speech of the Russian Minister of Defense at the opening of the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security.  Important for understanding Russia.

The Return of Industrial Warfare by Alex Vershinin for the Royal United Services Institute.

Ukraine war veterans on how Kiev plundered US aid, wasted soldiers, endangered civilians and lost the war by Lindsey Snell and Cory Popp for The Gray Zone.

Playing With Fire in Ukraine: The Underappreciated Risks of Catastrophic Escalation by John J. Mearsheimer for Foreign Affairs.

John Mearshemer’s latest article on Ukraine in Foreign Affairs – a critique by Gilbert Doctorow.

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4 Responses to “Suppose Russia wins – what happens next?”

  1. whungerford Says:

    I hope there is an exit strategy; if not, it is long overdue. I also hope there are plans for peace talks, which will sooner or later be necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The following was posted on WordPress on August 22, 2022 Says:

    […] https://philebersole.wordpress.com/2022/08/22/suppose-russia-wins-what-happens-next/ […]

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  3. onlyfactsplease Says:

    “I think the Russians have a good chance of winning their war in Ukraine, for reasons I’ve stated in previous posts. You may disagree. But suppose, for the sake of argument, I’m right. What would happen next?”

    Your words remind me of someone who would support Adolf Hitler in a heartbeat. You have no qualms about being one of the many shit nuggets, swimming in the raw sewage of despotism.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ohengineer Says:

    Russia stands little chance of winning. their losses are already horrifical and wildly exceed those in the Afghan war.

    Liked by 1 person

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