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What comes next in the Ukrainian war?

During the initial stages of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia received a sobering reality check when its force was unable to “capture Kiev in three days” (as Russian strategists predicted and Western officials feared it would). Instead, it encounters fierce opposition, and the fight has continued for a year. Here is a possible future scenario and a potential resolution to the dispute.

What each party desires
The top brass in Russia no longer seems to be working to remove Volodymyr Zelensky from office. Instead, gaining authority over the areas Russia annexed last autumn appears to be the immediate objective. Even as Russian forces continue to strike Ukrainian cities, Putin has stated that he is open to dialogue.

Nonetheless, Ukrainian authorities have remained steadfast in their belief that a peace agreement cannot be reached until Russia leaves Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders (which would mean leaving Crimea and regions that had been under the control of Russian-backed separatists since 2014). According to Ukrainian political scientist Volodymyr Fesenko, the vast majority of Ukrainians agree that these lands must be liberated.

What lies ahead?
Military experts caution that the conflict may reach a standstill and continue for months or possibly years without either side making any major advance.

It’s possible that the two sides will decide to halt hostilities, which would result in little combat but no formal peace accord. Fesenko claims specialists “commonly realize” that this hypothetical situation “would not bring peace, but will just be a respite in the battle.” He believes that substantive talks won’t start until the end of the year and that there will be actively fighting for the next six months, at the very least.

Western assistance is essential to Ukraine’s military effort, but some voices in the US and EU have questioned the expense of providing such extensive support. Yet according to economist Sergei Guriev, the allies of Ukraine “can afford this aid easily” because it only makes up a very small portion of their combined GDP.

Guriev contends that “Putin quitting [power]” is a prerequisite for enduring peace. He claims that Ukraine and Russia will need aid in the style of the Marshall Plan after the war is over. Nonetheless, he claims that Putin staying in power would signal a day when Russia would be “a hybrid of Iran and North Korea,” suffering from economic stagnation and being subject to international sanctions.

The fighting is still going on, while both sides are currently hoping to advance in the upcoming months.