Predictions on the Ukraine War

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These are some of the likely outcomes as predicted by various sources as of early March 2022.

Why did I collect these?

For the historical record, I’m recording some of the most believable scenarios for how the war in Ukraine is likely to go, according to various experts.

Like a time capsule, this will let us look back at how we were thinking about it during the first weeks of the war.

Predictions as of March 12, 2022 (with similar outcomes grouped near each other)

1. Scenario: NATO vs Russia war

Three ways this could become a NATO vs Russia war:

  1. NATO could decide to escalate its involvement in Ukraine by, for example, attempting to implement a no-fly zone or another form of direct intervention
  2. Russia could inadvertently strike a NATO member’s territory—for example, through imprecise targeting or erroneous identification of friend and foe—prompting countermeasures from the alliance
  3. If Russian forces make rapid progress in Ukraine and achieve effective control over the country, Putin may turn his attention to states that he covets as part of a desire to reconstitute a sphere of influence that broadly aligns with the territory of the former Soviet Union

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2. Scenario: Russian victory & new cold war

Ukraine eventually collapses under the weight of the Russian invasion. Despite intense opposition, Russian forces manage to take control of the country through the use of increasingly heavy-handed weapons and tactics.

While Russia faces steep economic costs, Putin solidifies his hold on power internally, quashing domestic dissent even more forcefully

New Iron Curtain falls. and a cold war is fought by both sides

Highly unlikely that Russia would launch direct military attacks against NATO forces, so he resorts to indirect attacks:

NATO and Russia prepare themselves for a long, bumpy standoff, with no clear outcome and no guarantee of a peaceful resolution.

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3. Scenario: Puppet state in Eastern Ukraine

By June 2022, Russia gains “patchy control of eastern Ukraine, up to the Dnipro River”, captures Kyiv after a protracted siege, and declares a puppet government. A rump Ukrainian state is led from Lviv and continues receiving significant western support. 5-10 million refugees leave Ukraine.

A possible scenario is that Russia partitions the conquered parts of the country, and pushes Ukrainians out of the partitioned areas.

The most likely candidate for who Putin installs as leader of the puppet state is install former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

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4. Scenario: Quagmire

Initial invasion success, then insurgency, devastation, and eventual Russian withdrawal.

Ukrainians successfully fight an insurgency, and “the conflict drains Moscow’s coffers and resolve, ultimately forcing a withdrawal after much violence and death”

Russia is a pariah state at a global level and withdrawing after a costly invasion.

Ukraine would be “devastated” in the process.

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5. Scenario: Negotiated Peace

Someone successfully negotiates an end. Turkey, India, China and Israel have all offered their assistance.

6. Scenario: Ukrainian victory

Ukraine could see its own defensive capabilities bolstered by NATO, allowing its military and civilian resistance to “overcome the odds and grind Moscow’s advance to a halt.” Putin would be prevented from toppling Kyiv’s government and establishing a puppet regime, while “the determination and skill of the Ukrainian resistance forces a stalemate on the battlefield that favors the defenders.”

Russian armed forces withdraw. This may occur after Putin declares he won in order to save face.

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7. Scenario: Ukrainian victory & Putin’s overthrow

Like Scenario 6, but Putin is also overthrown.

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8. Scenario: Ukrainian victory leading to collapse of Russia

Like Scenario 6 or 7, but the military losses by Russia lead to a collapse of the Russian state.

“With Russia’s economy on the verge of collapse, it would be difficult for Putin to prop up the perilous situation even without the loss of the Russo-Ukrainian war. If Putin were to be ousted from power due to civil strife, coup d’état, or another reason…”

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