There is a RAND paper, published to that end. While it doesn’t go out of its ways to admit the most obvious and probable result of UA losing the war east of Dnepr, leaving ruined country, economy and decimated population, it finds other arguments to push for the need to stop the shooting proxy war against Russia.
This brings forth the next main topic of the terms for the ceasefire, both acceptable to the West and to Russia. Since it seems the main driving force behind the shooting war, the Uncle Sam, is changing its approach from “bleed Russia out” to “stop the war before the US will bleed out”. Naturally, there is no true regard for the UA itself as well for the EU. It only concerns for US interests, which is actually a reasonable and realistic approach, despite the ideological uncompromising agenda for public and foreign consumption we have been seeing all along.
Many respected commentators, while seeing behind the propaganda machine of mass media, are unable or (more probably) unwilling to understand the paradigm which drives Kremlin’s inhabitants. They believe Russia will reject any deals from the West, since it had repeatedly shown itself only seeking diplomatic solutions which will allow it to readjust and reinforce itself against Russia, while presenting no real benefits for Russians. Once the Russia will stop its offensive, the West will abandon its responsibilities under the deal, instead creating diplomatic swamp for any productive initiatives and reasonable demands to stuck in. Eventually any deal will be broken, and the fault will be laid on Russia. In the meantime, new strategies and updated policies will emerge to keep destabilizing Russia and preparing new proxy war against it.
While it how things will develop if Russia accepts Western deal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be rejected. As demonstrated by the war, Russian ruling elites do not care for the general wellbeing of Russia as a country and the people. While West is now providing tanks, artillery, drones, missiles, etc., Russia is still pumping its energy into the West, the only limiting factor being the sanctions West itself has put on the Russian energy imports. There are still no retaliatory measures taken by Russian government, after its sovereign foreign reserves were frozen (practically stollen, without any prospect of returning them back), its companies and property ceased and nationalized, and its enemy provided weaponry which not only kills Russian soldiers fighting in UA, but also Russian citizens in Russia proper. All the Russian “red lines” which were crossed, remained without any response. The most bellicose are Russian diplomats and politicians, in the interviews they give to TV or on their social media accounts.
The reason for this inexplicable behavior, as I finally came to realize, is that Russian ruling elites don’t view the best interest of their country as their priority. Instead, they are more concerned in continuing making money by exporting Russian natural resources. And the Western market is still very lucrative, considering Russia is geographically, culturally and physically much closer to Europe than to Asia, Africa or South America. Those elites are also preferring the luxury way of life the West has to offer for 1-percenters. So, they cannot see themselves cutting ties with the West and putting their children in Chinese Universities and Indian resort cities. And they have been telling that from the very start: “the West will have to accept us (i.e., the kleptocrats) eventually”. The growing economic and diplomatic ties with China and India are only temporary necessities in their eyes, not the genuine reverse of foreign policy and relationships. Similarly, China and India view this as an opportunity to make money on Russian energy. Neither provided any direct military assistance to Russia akin to that provided by the West to UA. Only Iran, the pariah nation, is selling Russia its stand-off weapons. And if in Chinese case there is some quite support for the Russian military industry, like supplies of electronic components Russia needs, India is staying demonstratively neutral and cold to Russian cause.
While not all the fractions in Russian ruling elites are there for the money — some are seeking positions of force (the siloviki), while others probably just want the fame and the stage to present themselves to a public as wide as possible (diplomats) — yet they all parts of the same group. And the economic-oriented fraction is seemingly the most powerful one, or at least the closest one to Rasputin. If so, any decision made under their influence, won’t be openly disputed by other fractions. Loyalty to the group is their highest valued virtue, after all.
If so, it is quite possible they are actually not only open for a “diplomatic solution”, but eager to reach it. On the other hand, things were led so far by the West, that any deals will be highly destabilizing for the governments and parties supporting them. If many of the Western governments are public figures which don’t make the real policy decisions and are being directed by other individuals who remain in shadows, than Russian government is the actual power. That is why West has more flexibility, allowing it to sacrifice some public figures in order to promote their interests, while Russian government has much less room for maneuver, endangering the Rasputin’s government by making deals similar to the Minsk agreements.
The irony is, while both sides quietly want to stabilize their position and stop the war, they will have a very hard time to actually coming to mutually acceptable terms. Rasputin is mostly concerned by staying in power, so he would need a deal that could be presented as favorable (meaning something close to Ukrainian capitulation, captured territories and a government with less obvious anti-Russian policies). And the Western “deep state” is likely believing that a ceasefire with territories gained will be enough of the bone to throw to Russians to stop the war entirely.
If my assumptions are correct, it means it’s too late to stop the conflict to the mutual satisfaction of the ruling elites on both sides. Meaning the war will only stop when UA Army will collapse, or its government overthrown. It is by far the weakest link. Any Ukrainian offensives will only hasten this process. Only by gradually retreating to the right side of Dnepr River and making it their ultimate defense line, this conflict can become somewhat sustainable, assuming the West will continue to provide money and weapons in ever larger quantities. At which point, it will hardly look as good a cause for the Western public that was stimulated towards supporting the war by promises of Russian imminent military defeat in UA.
In such situation, US is most likely to abandon the UA project, much as it did with Afghanistan, etc. In which case it will sustain some farther damage to its international image as a military power, will embolden China and frighten Taiwan, leave EU in metaphorical ruins, and provide Russia a chance (given it will remain politically stable) to reassert itself in Europe, Central Asia and maybe Middle East.
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