RAND: Neither Ukraine nor Russia will achieve “absolute victory” in the war

RAND: Neither Ukraine nor Russia will achieve

Neither Ukraine nor Russia has the capacity to achieve absolute victory. This is written by experts from the American Research Center RAND Corporation.

Analysts note that Ukraine is not aimed at this absolute victory, because it only wants to return its territories without destroying Russia.

«While successful Ukrainian counter-offensives in Kharkiv and Kherson in the fall of 2022 restored optimism about Kyiv’s prospects on the battlefield, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s September 21 announcement of the partial mobilization and annexation of four Ukrainian regions was a stern reminder that this war is still very far from denouement” , — analysts write.

As of December 2022, Ukraine had a fighting momentum and may be able to fight until it manages to force the Russian military out of the country. Proponents of this view argue that the risks of Russia using nuclear weapons or war with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will remain manageable, RAND notes.

“After Russia is forced out of Ukraine, a stunned Russia will have no choice but to leave its neighbor in the world and even pay compensation for the damage done. However, a study of past wars and a closer look at the course of the current one show that this optimistic scenario is unlikely”, — analysts say.

Possible options for ending the Russian-Ukrainian war are proposed: absolute victory, a truce and a political settlement.

Speaking of absolute victory, experts refer to the definition according to which «the winner establishes a new leadership in the defeated state by occupying or annexing the territory of the enemy…». The Allies achieved such a victory in World War II. However, in this war, such an option is unlikely, analysts say.

Ukraine has never officially declared its intention, experts write, and even if it returns to its borders in 1991, Russia will still be able to strike with the help of the fleet and aviation, which did not suffer much in the war.

Since neither side has the ability to achieve an absolute victory, the war will most likely end with some kind of negotiations. Negotiations, in contrast to absolute victory, require the belligerents to accept a certain risk that the terms of the peace may be violated.

Analysts write that «even relatively «loser» in the war will retain the ability to threaten the other side».

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