“If Ukraine were willing to negotiate territorial losses, there would be no guarantee that Russia would not invade the country again.”

The war in Ukraine has entered a phase of stalemate. What are the immediate consequences of the continuation of the conflict and what scenarios can we expect?

A sustained war of attrition is to be expected with only minor territorial gains for both sides. With a good supply of F16s, the air war could benefit Ukraine, but I doubt it will bring a decisive advantage. Russia can make slow progress on several fronts, albeit with heavy losses. It is possible that Putin will introduce broader conscription after the March elections and close borders to ensure there is not a mass exodus of men eligible for conscription.

If half of Ukraine’s territory was captured by Russia and the other half was regained by Ukraine, would it be beneficial for Moscow to negotiate on these terms?

Yes I would. In addition to Crimea, Moscow has claimed four territories: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson. Only the first two are fully occupied, and his claims to the last two are based on land once owned by the Russian Empire before 1914. Furthermore, if Ukraine is willing to negotiate on the basis of these losses, there is no guarantee that Russia will not stake subsequent claims on Odessa or Kharkiv with new invasions. Any agreement should begin with the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory. However, to be effective, major power intervention would be required and would have to occur outside the borders of the United Nations and its Security Council.

Does the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdivka, the largest Russian advance in a year, represent a turning point and evidence of the failure of Western support?

No and yes. It is not a turning point but a calculated retreat. Only a few remains of the city remain. But the loss is due in part to a shortage of missiles and artillery due to a delay in U.S. support for the promised package. Russia may make small profits, but losses are always high. Ukraine has also eliminated a third of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, leaving Russians without security in Crimea.

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Can Ukraine still win the war? The survival of Zelensky’s troops without US military support is uncertain.

A Ukrainian victory depends on a number of factors: morale, leadership, money, weapons and manpower. I think he has the first and the second, although the removal of the commander-in-chief was unfortunate. Zelensky is very vulnerable in the face of any opposition, but he himself lacks military experience. US military support is the most important element today. The United Kingdom’s support is significant, as is that of the European Union, but the United States provides 90% of the weapons and more than twice the military aid (44 billion euros) than Germany, the second-largest supplier. The human losses in Ukraine are horrific and very worrying. It will take a generation for the population to recover. Zelensky needs broader conscription to continue the war: increasingly older age groups and more decisiveness in enlistment. But such measures are unpopular in both Ukraine and Russia.

Will the European elections in June and especially the US elections in November determine the future of the conflict?

The EU has managed to maintain unity despite Hungary’s hesitations, and the upcoming European Parliament elections should not affect overall support. But if Donald Trump wins the US election, Ukraine’s cause could be lost. Trump will call for an immediate ceasefire, without which additional aid to Ukraine could be suspended, and will have support in both chambers of government for at least two years. It could also undermine the NATO alliance and end Ukraine’s pursuit of future security. The situation in the United States is critical and the signs are not encouraging. Joe Biden has lost much of the support he had in 2020, and even Democratic voters are concerned about his age and waning powers.

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