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Expected Outcomes

To predict an expected outcome of a potential world-changing conflict which has only started weeks ago is a bit daring. JCOT attempts to do this, though, because important decisions on the economic and physical safety of the citizens and allies of the Federated Micronations depend on this. Please note that, in our experience, predictions containing a timescale are usually wrong in regards to the predicted dates. The war has _not_ started on 2022.02.01, as initially expected. But many of the Trump Presidency predictions made by the SDFM became true, some in a twisted way and after Trump lost the election.

Initial analysis - 2022.03.23

As described elsewhere , JCOT correctly has predicted the attack on Ukraine being executed from several sides. Due to the "false flag" most easily created in Donbass, the conflict started there, but was followed by a "rapid decapitation" attempt from the north and from an attack towards Charkiv. The only attack we predicted incorrectly was the thrust from Crimea - we expected a maritime landing operation instead, which was not yet attempted on the Odessa coastline. Ukrainian forces defended the access from Crimea valiantly, but failed.

We assumed correctly that these attacks would not progress as fast as expected by the aggressor, but finally be successful in surrounding most large cities in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. Some of the cities might capitulate quickly, but others, especially those on the east bank of the Dnepr, would keep on resisting. As Ukraine as a whole would not capitulate, Aleppo-like situations have come up in Chernihiv, Kharkiv and especially Mariupol.

At this point, Russia might be prepared to offer an armistice, demanding the capitulation of the remaining surrounded cities as a price for this. Ukraine would probably not accept this, utilizing the extended supply lines and the abilities of the Territorial Defense to inflict huge losses on Russian forces. In this situation, Russia has these options:

  • Consolidate forces into those areas they want to keep (Cherson peninsula, to secure Crimean water supply, parts of Donbas) and withdraw from others
  • Send reinforcements and enhance air and ground attacks on Ukrainian cities, Chechnya style.
  • With a shock attack, possibly nuclear, cut off Western supply lines to Ukraine and push Ukraine into capitulation.

We are currently observing the "reinforcements" variant. The "consolidation" variant would be sort of a capitulation inacceptable to Putin, while the "shock attack" basically is only possible with nuclear weapons. That would lead to NATO Article 5 and possibly a nuclear war.

As Russian supply lines are cut more often by Ukrainian forces, we expect that some Russian battle groups might be cut off and surrounded. First reports in this direction are coming in from the region north west of Kyiv, but we expect a similar scenario for the forces west of Kherson. In the south east, on the other hand, Russian forces might try to surround Ukrainian forces positioned against the Donbas "Republics". But for Russia, the protection of supply trains will become more and more difficult since about half of their helicopters have been shot down. Regarding typical maintenance cycles and repair quotas, we assume it will shortly become difficult to protect Russian supply lines with helicopters.

We expect no effective attack of Belarusian forces in north west Ukraine. Even if some Belarusian units cross the border, they will soon dissolve, with high number of desertions. It is feasible that an attack order by Lukashenka will lead to a civil war or coup d'etat in Belarus.

If the Russian groups active in the western Kyiv and Cherson regions are routed within the next two to four weeks, we expect a decision by Putin to be made, either to consolidate the occupied territory on the Azov coastline and withdraw from the other regions (except maybe the north east as bargaining chip) or to expand the war by using weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons are one possibility, as the Russian ally Syria has used such weapons without any military backlash by the west. But their terror factor is locally restricted, therefore it is possible that Putin will decide to use tactical nuclear weapons.

Like in Syria or in Iraq (Saddam Hussein, against the Kurdish regions), we believe larger scale use of chemical weapons will not lead to Western military action. It would lead to another level of sanctions, though, against natural gas and oil and probably all other trade. In case of the explosion of tactical nuclear weapons in western Ukraine, though, the fallout and political shock would lead to Article 5. On the other side, we hope that such a command would be forfeited by the Russian command chain and, either before its execution or after, lead to Putin being arrested and tried by a new Russian government.

If such a command is executed and a TNW device exploded, we probably will see a declaration of a No Flight Zone over large parts of Ukraine, supported by threats of strikes against Russian forces west of the Dnipro. At this point, Russia probably will back down and not escalate into a global nuclear war. Probably.

JCOT, 2022.02.18 / 2022.02.26 / 2022.03.23

Looking back and forward - 2022.12.29

Soon after the initial analysis was published, Russia switched from the "reinforcement" phase to the "Consolidation" phase by first declaring, then executing a withdrawal of all forces oriented towards Kyiv. Ukraine has been able to also push back Russian forces from the vicinity of Charkiv, while Russia has completed the conquest of Luhansk oblast and pushed further into Donezk oblast. Finally, in October, Russian forces were forced to withdraw from Kherson and the surrounding region west of the Dnipro. JCOT predictions in this sense came true, but at least in regards to Kherson later than predicted.

In regards to "either consolidation or escalation", Russia decided for both, trying to consolidate the occupied territories while at the same time escalating by attacking Ukrainian power infrastructure with cruise missiles and Iranian drones. There are almost no signs of Russian preparations to use of WMD yet, but we still believe this to be relatively probable later in the war. The core tactics of Russia currently seems to be the "meat grinder" of the Bakhmut offensive, where Russian and surely also Ukrainian daily losses are in the hundreds. At the same time, as expected, Belarusian forces have not actively taken part in the war, only trying to bind Ukrainian forces to the common border through maneuvers.

For the first half of 2023, JCOT predicts a continuation of the Donbas "meat grinder" situation, with only minor advances for Russian forces. We also expect a further number of long range infrastructure attacks, with Russian supplies of these weapons reaching a critical level in February, leading to a massive reduction of such attacks.

In the January / March timescale, we also expect both an offensive of Ukrainian forces in the south, targeting to cut Russian supply lines somewhere between Tokmak and Berdiansk, and an offensive of Russian and possibly Belarusian forces in the north. maybe in the direction of Zhytomyr. While the Ukrainian offensive might be partially successful, the Russian offensive will fail.

In the second half of 2023, this failure of conventional Russian operations will lead to a strengthening of internal Russian tensions, between the Defense Ministry and Wagner group aligned forces. Current news are hinting that Wagner-aligned officers are receiving high level positions in the Russian army. They seem to favour the "meat grinder" approach, neglecting the human costs to their forces in order to weaken the Ukrainian army. The core question is at which point Putin loses control of the Wagner group, being forced to give them full power over Russian forces, and at which point Prigoshin, the Wagner leader, decides to take over the state. Putin might be kept as a figurehead, though, like Wilhelm II, the German emperor, during WW I.

Any use of TNW ordered by Putin must therefore be seen as a mostly internal operation to "win" the war before the Wagner people become too strong. It would be self defeating, though, as it would lead to a conventional strike of US forces, leading to a breakdown of Russian forces in most of Ukraine. Prigoshin and his alliance would have the opportunity to take power by arguing that they had to act to avoid a nuclear armageddon. In any case, they will try to continue the war focussed on the Donbass "meat grinder", even if having to give up the land connection to Crimea.

Looking at historic wars, a "meat grinder" like conflict can be sustained only for a small number of years before one side breaks down, and, in this conflict, the Russians are taking higher losses and are having lower morale than Ukrainian forces. Desertions and troops giving up to become prisoners of war are the key - Ukraine is best advised to support these as best as possible. Looking at the internal tensions in Russia, any such breakdown would probably lead to an internal conflict which might end in a civil war, as any coup of Wagner or similar groupings would not be acceptable to other power structures like the FSB. Additional wars might spring up around Russia, eg in Georgia and Armenia / Azerbeijan.

In such a situation, Ukraine would win back most of the occupied territories, possible with the exception of Crimea. Demoralized Russian forces would surrender in droves. The situation in Belarus might remain stable for the time being if Lukashenka decides not to send troops, but might end in a coup or revolution if he becomes involved in the war and his forces being defeated.

We do not expect a civil war scenario to occur already in 2023, but see it as a realistic option in 2024 / 2025.