-We do not know, who will win the war in Ukraine or how. In February, in Interia, we analyzed possible scenarios for ending the fights.
And as long as cannon shots are heard at the front, and neither side tipped the scales of victory in its favour, all possibilities we have analyzed remain valid.
In the face of reports about the progress of the Ukrainian army, one should keep a cool head and analyze black scenarios as well. To be ready for them.
There's no shortage of votes, that the military successes of the Ukrainian troops and the liberation of part of the occupied lands will not end the fighting, if there is no internal crisis in Russia, which would break the Kremlin's ability to wage war.
The existing Western sanctions have proved insufficient, and Russia is not yet in the position of the Soviets, who withdrew from Afghanistan in the face of internal crises and the failure to achieve military goals 1989 r.
Almost three years later, the USSR ceased to exist.
For now, one thing is certain: the Russian invasion will end, like other wars of the past.
We can wear it in the dark, that there will be a ceasefire, negotiations – That's possible, that they are conducted under the auspices of the greatest powers or international institutions.
Another thing, what conditions will be negotiated and whether the parties to the conflict will be satisfied.
At the same time, the Ukrainian counter-offensive is already underway. Let's stay aside, whether it is its main phase or just preparations, as US General Ben Hodges suggested over the weekend.
British “The Economist” announced in April, that the following weeks could be the decisive period of the war.
In the most pessimistic variant, the authors assume, that Ukraine's counter-offensive will not bring the expected results, and the situation at the front will come to a stalemate, which would allow Russia to retain its territorial gains.
Then Vladimir Putin would decide to drag out the war, to show more patience than the West, and above all, waiting for Donald Trump to return to the White House.
Let's remind, that the former US president complained many times, that America is needlessly losing billions of dollars, helping Ukraine. Trump convinces, that he could end the war in one day.
It cannot be ruled out, that after the elections in 2024 r. possible, the new republican administration will put pressure on the authorities in Kiev, threatening to withhold or reduce support, to demand a compromise with Moscow.
The US Congress has already investigated the matter of Trump's pressure on Volodymyr Zelensky. The US president allegedly made military assistance to Ukraine conditional on the initiation of an investigation by the US, that would hurt Joe Biden before the election in 2020 r.
In the United States, the next few months are seen as the key moment of the war. According to the American press, Ukraine has to prove, that the billions of dollars donated to it have not been wasted.
And while Joe Biden provides, that he is ready to help Ukraine “so long, as necessary”, opinion polls show, that support for such a position is waning among Americans, especially among Republicans.
Simply put: future U.S. support for Ukraine depends on the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive. So is the reputation of the US president. The Biden administration has invested heavily – financially and politically – in support of Kiev.
The lack of success at the front will be a disaster for Zelensky's team, Ukrainian statehood, and Biden may be thwarted in his bid for a second term in the White House. And yet Ukraine is not the only challenge for Washington, to mention the rising tensions with Beijing.
We are at this stage of war, where the ultimate failure of Ukraine cannot be ruled out under any circumstances, although it would certainly be bad news for us. And certainly political leaders should be ready for such a scenario.
Western public opinion wishes Ukraine victory. For Kiev, it means regaining lost territories. Any other scenario – Moscow's retention of the occupied lands in the Donbass, Zaporizhia and Crimea – is unacceptable, and any suggestions coming from the West on this subject cause our eastern neighbor understandable indignation.
But you can't assume, that Western societies will indefinitely bear the costs of war with the same tenacity, so far.
This is what Moscow is counting on, indicating readiness to lead “eternal war”, until the end. Another tool of the Kremlin's influence on pacifist public opinion in the West is the nuclear bogeyman – the announcement of the use of tactical nuclear weapons and the transfer of part of the nuclear arsenal to Belarus.
We won't settle, is it just Putin's bluff or is the threat of using weapons real, but the mere mention of such an eventuality is worrying and forces NATO countries to prepare an appropriate response.
In May “Financial Times”, citing talks with officials from countries supporting Ukraine, he informed, that the massive arms shipments to the Ukrainian army are reaching the limit.
And for many of Kiev's allies, September is expected to be a turning point in the war, after which it may be necessary to start peace talks.
If European countries do not increase armaments production, the gap between the efficiency of the Western defense industry and the needs of Ukraine, not to mention restocking, will grow. And stopping or limiting supplies in the current situation would mean dooming Kiev to failure.
Another threat to the durability of the pro-Ukrainian coalition concerns the change of authorities in individual countries to ones that are less friendly to Kiev.
The elections may bring a change in the balance of power on the political scene and give voice to groups opposed to helping Ukraine.
The long-term political crisis in Slovakia creates an opportunity for the party of former Prime Minister Robert Fico to come to power, which is hostile to Ukraine. Voting in Slovakia will take place 30 September.
A possible failure of Ukraine should be perceived as a geopolitical failure of the West, who was strongly involved in helping the country attacked by Russia.
It may result in a greater willingness to force a truce on Ukraine and try to arrange it anew – especially by the countries of southern Europe – relations with Russia.
There is awareness in Ukraine, that lasting peace cannot be achieved by concessions, and such a solution may in the near future result in a new war.
This is a favorable scenario for Putin, because it does not currently have the military capacity to achieve political goals.
For Kiev, such a variant may mean the outbreak of an internal conflict, e.g. between the civilian leadership and the army or part of it.
And this, in turn, is grist to the mill of Putin or his successor, whoever it will be, which would have the potential to further destabilize Ukraine.