The fighting in Ukraine has long since finally passed into the stage of positional warfare - armed confrontation, in which military operations on stable fronts of great length, with defense in depth, prevail. The struggle is for every settlement, for every district and for every street. In this regard, many are wondering - how long can a special military operation in Ukraine continue?
The question is logical, but there is no answer to it.
The current stagnation at the fronts is explained by many factors - adverse weather conditions, the actual parity of forces, etc., and on the whole this is true. However, it is most important for us to get an answer to another question, without an answer to which it is impossible to talk about any terms and variations - what options for completing a special military operation do exist?
I mentioned negative scenarios in previous materials, in particular, in the article “The American concept of "early victory" in a long war: how the West plans to defeat Russia in a conflict of attrition”, in this case, we will consider relatively favorable scenarios for the completion of the NWO, as well as the positive and negative aspects of these scenarios.
Scenarios for the completion of a military operation
To begin with, it should be emphasized that, in the author's opinion, there are no completely positive options for completing the military operation in Ukraine. If we take as a basis the definition of the English historian Liddell Hart, who believes that the purpose of the war is to achieve a better, if only from your point of view, state of the world after the war, then it is quite difficult to achieve victory from this position. That is, even having achieved a conditional victory over Ukraine, Russia may continue to be in a rather difficult international political situation, and this fact should be taken into account.
Considering that Russia has not yet formed clear parameters for its victory in Ukraine, and the goals of the military conflict vary depending on the situation on the battlefield and the international political situation, the victory scenarios that are given below are theoretical.
The first script provides for a change in the legal status of a special military operation (which is currently not defined at all), the introduction of martial law, another wave of mobilization, mobilization of the rear, that is, the economy, with the aim of a new large-scale offensive against Ukraine in order to defeat the Armed Forces of Ukraine and take it under control, either completely or almost completely.
For a long time, such a scenario has been advocated, in particular, by retired FSB colonel Igor Strelkov, who believes that the economy should be mobilized first and the material base should be prepared for large-scale mobilization.
This scenario provides for the achievement of a relatively quick victory through a strong effort of the state's forces. Indeed, the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which have a lower mobilization potential than Russia, can be tritely “crushed by the masses”, and in theory, victory can be achieved in this way, but this scenario contains significant risks and costs.
The negative aspects of this scenario include, firstly, the risks of a crisis in the state-bureaucratic apparatus. Partial mobilization has demonstrated how inefficient the state machine is, and there are serious doubts that Russia is capable of equipping and supplying, say, a million fighters.
Secondly, there are risks of the collapse of the economy, which operates in the “peacetime” mode and is not ready for over-militarization and transition to a military footing.
In particular, the transition of civilian enterprises to "military rails" can lead to completely unexpected consequences. It is worth remembering that Japan once resorted to the total mobilization of the economy - in the early 1930s, the Japanese aircraft industry could master the production of only 100-200 aircraft per year, and already in 1944, the Japanese aviation industry managed to bring production to a record high of 24 thousand aircraft. However, the growth of the Japanese economy was abnormal and extensive - the military industry and heavy industry grew mainly due to a slowdown in the growth of the civilian sector. The consequences of this were devastating for the economy and set it back several decades.
In the current conditions, when Russia is also conducting an economic confrontation with the West, and also taking into account that the industrial potential of the current Russian Federation is limited, such experiments can end in failure.
Thirdly, the reaction of the West to this step is unknown, there is a risk that the response to another mobilization and the introduction of martial law will be the deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine.
Fourthly, to carry out large-scale mobilization in the absence of an idea and a clear goal of the war, when military personnel do not know what exactly they need to achieve in order to win, can lead to uncontrolled protests among mobilized and military personnel.
Second script provides for the use of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to destroy the strongholds and fortified areas of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, turn the tide on the fronts and persuade the West and Ukraine to conclude peace on Russia's terms (i.e., probably, recognition of the new borders of the Russian Federation, the neutral status of Ukraine etc.). A change in the status of the NWO and additional mobilization may not be carried out at the same time.
The competent use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield, in theory, is capable of inflicting serious damage on the Armed Forces of Ukraine and radically changing the situation, but serious risks arise in this case. The use of tactical nuclear weapons is supported by retired aviation colonel Viktor Alksnis, who believes that in the current state of our Armed Forces, which are unable to defeat the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russia will sooner or later be forced to use tactical nuclear weapons at strategic bridges, tunnels and transport hubs.
This scenario has a lot of negative sides - firstly, the use of tactical nuclear weapons can only break the Armed Forces of Ukraine in theory, in practice everything will depend on the amount that will be used and the literacy of the application. That is, in practice, this may not give the desired effect. The forces of the Ukrainian army are dispersed, and it is difficult to imagine how many tactical nuclear weapons will be required.
Secondly, there are risks of contamination of the area. Even if low-power charges are used, this cannot be avoided. If strikes are made on bridges, then there is a threat of contamination of rivers.
Thirdly, it should be said about the moral side of the issue - do not forget that in Ukraine there are two branches of the once united people, the Eastern Slavs, howling, so the use of weapons of mass destruction is hardly appropriate and permissible.
And fourthly, there are risks that, in the event of the use of nuclear weapons, Western countries will transfer nuclear weapons to Ukraine, whose political leadership will most likely use them on Russian territory without hesitation.
Third scenario provides for the continuation of the war of attrition in the current format in the hope that sooner or later the West and Ukraine under its control will be persuaded to negotiate in order to consolidate the current status quo. At the moment, the political leadership of Russia is taking steps to ensure that the war does not affect the majority of the population, and the economy functions in peacetime. I wrote in detail about the risks of this scenario in the material “The American concept of "early victory" in a long war: how the West plans to defeat Russia in a conflict of attrition».
At the same time, both the second and third scenarios, subject to some agreement on the status quo or freezing the conflict within the current borders, provide for the threat of a resumption of military conflict in the future. As Carl von Clausewitz wrote:
“Even the decisive, final act of the entire war cannot be looked upon as something absolute, for the defeated country often sees in it only a transient evil that can be corrected by subsequent political relations.”
To all of the above, it is worth adding that Russia is a country with negative demographics, and a long and bloody war in the context of a demographic crisis can end tragically for the Russian people.
Military conflict by agreement?
(as a conclusion)
At the moment, events are developing according to the third scenario, and we have certain elements of a negotiated war. In particular, in a recent interview with Western media, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave him a guarantee not to kill Ukrainian President V. Zelensky. If this is true, then it becomes clear why the Ukrainian president walked freely in both Izyum and Kherson, without fear for his life.
It is noteworthy that the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov did not refute the agreements between Putin and Bennett on Ukraine.
“We are not supporters of disclosing the details of the talks between the heads of state. We don’t want to do this even now, so I will neither refute nor confirm what Mr. Bennet said,”
- said Peskov. These words can be regarded as a confirmation of Bennett's words, because the lies of Western politicians are often refuted in the Kremlin.
Obviously, Moscow still hopes that the military conflict can be ended by negotiations with the West on terms acceptable to the Russian Federation. At the same time, some political circles in the United States, where all key decisions are made, are giving certain signals that they are ready to negotiate with Russia. This refers, of course, to the Republican Party and one of its leaders, Donald Trump. The Republican-supporting American businessman and billionaire Elon Musk, who owns the SpaceX company, which literally recently limited the use of Starlink satellites in Ukraine, also gives certain signals.
However, be that as it may, before the possible coming of the Republicans to power in the United States is still far away, and during this time anything can happen. Aid from Western countries is still growing. You can, of course, sit and wait for the weather from the sea, but how productive is it? And if the Republicans do not come to power at all, or for some reason change their minds, what then?
The lack of clear goals, strategy and ideas of military and geopolitical confrontation, in which Russia has become involved, still remain a key unresolved problem.