Scenario update.

Regarding the scenarios I wrote about a few days ago. A few additional thoughts.

1). A scenario where Ukraine is split between East and West might be middle ground in terms of a diplomatic solution. (not popular with Ukrainians obviously!)

2) The outward migration could be huge: 5 to 10+ million people, in which case one wonders what Putin might inherit. (on the other hand an empty buffer zone might be what he wants).

3). It might be reasonably easy (it isn’t) to capture (flaten) the cities, but Ukraine is vast and largely empty. Occupying what is essentially empty space is hard. I can only see two outcomes here: The destruction of Ukraine or the destructioin of Putin.

4). As the historian Simon Schama points out, the war could suddenly end when Russia’s cash runs out, but it could also slowly come to a halt when Russian soldiers become disillusioned with the campaign. Disillusioned troops returning from WW1 played an important role in sparking the 1917 Russian Revolution. In War and Peace, Prince Andrei Bolkonsys remarks that success in war does not depend on equipment or position, rather it depends “on the feeling that is in me and him” (soldier and opponent). The battle for the future is always in the mind.

5). What do we mean, or define, by ‘end’? What does this ending look like?

Future Gazing

From a 2014 horizon scanning report. Now a good question that flows from this is who gets listened to?, when? and why?

What’s next? I can only see two scenarios. 1). Putin gets what he wants – largely because the West, and critically China, decide not to stop buying Russian oil and gas. Then perhaps he extends his expansion to Moldova, Georgia and even further. Ukraine itself is possibly split into two, with Russia taking the larger East of the country and the democratic government holding onto the far West. Sporadic fighting continues for years. 2). Putin finds the going harder and slower than expected. Sanctions cripple the Russian economy, social unrest grows, there is a palace coup and that’s the end of him. There is a third scenario, but at the moment there’s no off ramp for Putin in my opinion and he is committed. Also, the humiliation of backing down would be too much to bear (which is why this situation is so dangerous).

Ukraine scenarios

Nice set of scenarios for Ukraine/Russia from the BBC (I wonder what it might look like as a matrix?). The whole sorry state reminds me of Mary Schmich’s commencement speach essay: “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday.”

And to think we we worried about a pandemic and before that Brexit not so long ago.

So what might happen next? Is Puten playing chess or poker? I think the answer largely depends on China decides to do next, especially in relation to energy imports from Russia.

Oh and the generals. always the generals. Keep an eye on them, which I’m sure is what Putin is doing….