History tells us that every conflict comes to an end eventually, one way or another. Yet there is little discussion about how the current conflict in the Ukraine might (or should) end – although it is definitely something worth thinking about due to the high potential for the situation spinning out of control.
Clearly, despite the initial propaganda, the conflict will not end with Kiev triumphant, pushing Russia out and reclaiming the Crimea and the parts of the Donbass which rejected Kievan rule 8 long years ago; that much is now obvious.
It is unfortunately easy to see how the conflict could end in the complete Mutual Assured Destruction of North America, Europe, and Russia in a brief thermonuclear war. E.g., a Danish-supplied Harpoon missile sinks a Russian ship in the Black Sea; Russia responds by dropping a non-nuclear hypersonic missile on the Danish parliament; NATO reacts; and the Western world comes to an end. Hopefully, our Betters will avoid that slippery slope.
Short of nuclear war, the most reasonable outcome would be a partitioned Ukraine, with Poland seizing parts of western Ukraine, Russia setting up Novorussia in the Donbas and extending west to Catherine the Great’s city of Odessa, while Kiev retains control of landlocked Rump Ukraine. But that would not necessarily be the end of the story.
It is possible there might be no formal end to the war, with a Korean-style +/- 600 mile long tinderbox De-Militarized Zone between Rump Ukraine and Novorussia, along with a continuation of the Western sanctions on Russia which are bringing such economic pain to Europe.
Perhaps the Ukraine might become the Palestinian Territories of Europe, with ongoing violence and a never-ending financial drain on Europe and the US. But what would happen when the downward financial spiral of the West reaches the point that our Betters can no longer subsidize Kiev?
Or there could be a genuine negotiated peace, although it is hard to see who could credibly play the role of honest broker to bring the sides together. A peace treaty might yield a de-militarized Rump Ukraine, internationally-supervised plebiscites throughout the former territory of the Ukraine to let the people choose their own futures, and US/EU lifting their sanctions to provide economic relief to Europe. A de-militarized Rump Ukraine would require international peacekeepers to ensure that both NATO and Russia stay out; China might accept that job.
The ripples from whatever happens in the Ukraine would continue to spread. Perhaps Europe would shift to a permanent war footing, with militarization of societies and Europe-wide conscription. Or perhaps European countries might instead abandon NATO, seeing it now as a source of danger instead of security. The EU could easily fracture and collapse. Some of the weapons the West has poured into the admittedly corrupt Ukraine are likely to be sold to terrorist groups, with grave repercussions across the world. Taiwan might observe the outcome and decide that discretion is the better part of valor by cutting a deal to rejoin China – putting the West’s supplies of high-end computer chips under Chinese control. As a consequence of the Western sanctions, an enhanced BRICS might put an end to the role of the US Dollar as the global reserve currency, causing economic chaos in a US no longer able to trade freshly-printed IOUs for essential imports.
In one sense, the conflict in the Ukraine is no more relevant to the rest of the world than was NATO’s 1999 war against Serbia. However, the resolution of today’s unfortunate situation in the Ukraine could lead to a better, more stable world – or could lead to a ghastly end to Western civilization. The subject deserves serious consideration, rather than the current mindless boosterism from each side.