The scenarios I would categories as coming under the prolonged conflict definition is either the fall of Ukraine and/or the continuation of the current Putin reign in Russia. Any of these scenarios will translate into continued/escalated economic & security tit-for-tat actions between Russia and the west that will eventually tear down global markets and introduce security vulnerabilities the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Remember it’s not only rich nations that will be facing these challenges but also developing nations in Africa, Asia and South America that will face the brunt of these economic and security pressures-and as experience tells us everything eventually flows seamlessly towards the west from there. So playing for the long game primarily through sanctions is not the right strategy considering the fact that once Putin put his first foot on Ukrainian soil on the 24th of February – he lost all of what was left of his credibility/trust in the west to the point of no return.
So there now needs to be a 2 pronged approach in this confrontation;
- Military assistance to Ukraine both in the form weaponry/sharing of military data and possibly embedding NATO troops and/or command-and-control assets/personal to help defend Ukraine. Some of this may already be happening but I suspect not in a consistent well planned manner that can make a big difference.
- Maximising western sanctions and expanding them by applying pressure on other nations – in the Mideast and beyond – to follow suit and weak nations reliant on Russia economically should be assisted to dismantle this reliance so the Russian regime is totally isolated/crippled in a relatively short period of time; this has to be done quickly/efficiently and in a well coordinated manner. There may well be economic ramifications for this in the west short term but this a minimal price to pay to achieve a more sustainable solution at the end.
The bottom line is this that if there was ever been a scenario that necessitates regime change this is most certainly the only one I can think of because with this conflict the world has turned a corner but it won’t be complete unless Russia does the same. However it does not help for the west to pretend that with sanctions alone Russia is about to fall; this is a false narrative specifically designed as an excuse for not interfering militarily in Ukraine. The fact of the matter is that with every passing day that goes by without adopting a strategy similar to the one highlighted above Ukraine will eventually fall and rather than turning a corner on Putin’s Russia it is Putin that will turn the tables on Europe in much the same way that Hitler did in WWII as mentioned in previous posts.
Just a thought!