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These are my two most probable options to end the war-fighting in Ukraine

Putin took power in 1999 and in the same year he launched a war called the Second Chechen War (first in 1994-96) in the Caucasus, which resulted in a clear Russian victory against the Muslim separatists. The war, which ended with the Chechen capital Grozny razed to the ground, put Russia again in a position of power in the world stage after the decadent years of its predecessor Boris Yeltsin, and reaffirmed Putin's consolidation into power.

Since the end of the Yeltsin era, Russia has never lost a war, quite the contrary. It had achieved all its goals with the invasion of Georgia (2008), the annexation of Crimea (2014), and the military operations in Syria (2015), Dagestan (2017), Central African Republic (2018) and Mali (2021).

Meanwhile, Putin's style of governing has become increasingly authoritarian with the time, which makes his willingness to continue the war even higher, as opposition is almost non-existent and this is a way keep his control over the country. Additionally, Russia and China have declared that a new political alliance has emerged “in order to create a new multipolar world to break the hegemony of the US and NATO” (BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

Also, despite western sanctions, the Russian economy grew 3% in 2023 and all its macroeconomic indicators are doing pretty well. Thus, as long as the Russian military avoid total collapse, and prospects of political change in the West (specially a victory of Trump), Putin will continue to send a big numbers of soldiers to the trenches, and will be unwilling to pull back his troops.

In that sense, and taking into account the causes of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia is setting “non-negotiable” demands in order to stop the war:

•Ukraine’s demilitarization and neutrality.

•Annexation of territories it controls in four provinces in eastern Ukraine (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherzon and Zaporizhzhia) plus Crimea.

On the other side, Ukraine managed to get rid of Russian influence by ejecting its former pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych in the 2014 Maidan Revolution. With this, a strong anti-Russian nationalism, sometimes using neo-Nazi forces, and a desire to join the western European political, economical and cultural sphere, have become a part of the national Ukrainian identity. Definitely, Ukraine will never accept going back to have its future controlled by the policies of Moscow.

Zelensky, who will remain in power as the 2024 national elections have been canceled due to the war, has insisted that the only acceptable condition to stop fighting is to get security guarantees to prevent a new invasion in the future. And to push Russian troops back to the pre-2014 borders, that is, until regaining control of Crimea. Also, Ukraine is demanding the return of abducted children from the eastern provinces, and justice for war crimes.

With this, there seems to be two possible scenarios to end the war:

1) Trump wins on November 5th 2024, and together with the anti-globalist mouvements in Europe, forces Zelensky to cede the Donbas (that wanted to separate in 2014), but Ukraine will retain most of Kherzon and Zaporizhzhia. In exchange, Ukraine would become part of NATO and the European Union, and Russia would pay damages for the war and facilitate family unification.

2) Biden wins and with some agreed truces, the conflict will turn into a frozen one, like North vs South Korea, with a demilitarized zone. Ukraine can join the EU but not NATO due to the necessary condition of controlling all its territory to be a member of the military alliance.

The first option is very good on paper, as Russia would be in a worse position than in 2021 as NATO would have enlarged with Finland, Sweden and Ukraine as a consequence of the invasion; it would still been seen as a pariah and unreliable partner in the world; and it will still be suffering from some western sanctions. Ukraine on the other hand, would have lost territory but gained access to NATO and the EU, a dream that seemed very far away before 2022.

Nevertheless, this deal would set a very dangerous precedent that it is possible to break international law by invading a neighboring country in order to annex territory and change the political borders by force. And the western-led liberal world of post-WW2 is supposed to stand on the primacy of Rule of Law.


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