How did the war in Ukraine start and how could it end?

For Vladimir Putin, the decision to launch an invasion of Ukraine could be his crowning legacy — or the nail in the coffin of his two-decade rule over Russia.

On February 24, after weeks of warnings from Western intelligence officials, the The Russian President ordered a full-scale invasion its Eastern European neighbor. The decision triggered what may be the biggest conflict in Europe since the 1940s.

Here’s our guide to how the conflict began and how the war might eventually end.

justification of the conflict

Putin made that clear a long time ago his belief that Ukraine is an illegitimate statewho, in an article published last year, claims that Russians and Ukrainians, along with Belarusians, are a people belonging to what was historically known as the “All-Russian Nation.”

Titled in the essay On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians, Putin explicitly stated that Ukraine had no right to call itself an independent nation. “The formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state that is aggressive towards Russia,” argued Putin, is tantamount to using weapons of mass destruction against Russians.

It was based on that logic Putin justified the annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as the longstanding conflict between Kremlin-backed proxies in the Donbass region. This conflict, fought on Ukrainian soil, claimed 14,000 lives between 2014 and 2022.

In a speech days before he gave the order for a full-scale invasion, Putin was internationally condemned for attacking the idea of ​​Ukrainian statehood in an “angry” and “dismissive” speech from the Kremlin.

Putin outlined a “version of Ukraine’s history” in which the area now controlled by Kyiv “was always part of Russia,” he said Associated Press Editor John Daniszewski. Instead, he argued that the land that now comprises Ukraine was stolen from mainland Russia by the Bolsheviks after the founding of the Soviet Union.

But “while this serves its purpose, it is also a fiction” that denies Ukraine’s “own 1,000-year history,” Daniszewski said. World leaders dismissed Putin’s history lesson, but it laid the “basis for a war” nonetheless, he added.

How the war started

On February 21, Putin signed a decree recognizing the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, the two self-proclaimed states controlled by pro-Russian separatists in Donbass. No other country recognizes their independence.

He then dispatched Russian troops to the area, arguing that they were “peacekeepers” trying to prevent a “genocide” of Russians living in the region.

Ukraine has since “taken Russia to the International Court of Justice for launching an invasion against the country’s Russian speakers under false claims of genocide.” The guard reported.

What followed was an attack on three frontswith Russian troops flooding in from annexed Crimea, the separatist-controlled regions in the east, and into Ukrainian territory Belarus, which borders Ukraine to the north.

Putin justified this attack by saying that NATO’s eastward expansion threatens Russia’s national security, even though Ukraine is not a NATO member and is unlikely to join the alliance in the near future. He also claimed to be “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” the country, which is run by a democratically elected Jewish president.

He had intended to make the invasion quickwith troops quickly rushing into the capital, Kyiv, and disembarking President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Government. But his troops were hit fierce resistance from the Ukrainian armed forceslaying the foundation for ongoing fighting in several major cities.

How will the war end?

Putin’s invasion did not go according to plan and reports of it surfaced low morale among soldiers and lack of basic services like food and fuel. But Russia has captured a major city and appears to be encircling Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

According to the Atlantic Councilthere are four likely outcomes at this point in the conflict:

1st victory for Ukraine

The most unlikely outcome, according to the think tank, is a “miracle on the Dnipro” in which “Ukraine’s military and civilian resistance overcomes all odds and halts Moscow’s advance.”

Should that happen, “it could quickly become apparent to the Kremlin that Russia will pay an exorbitant price for its adventurism,” meaning Putin could withdraw his troops and Ukraine “remain a sovereign democracy.”

2nd partial victory for Russia

Alternatively, it is possible that the conflict will sink into a “swamp,” according to the think tank.

After weeks or months of struggle Russia could “overthrow the government of Ukraine and install a puppet regime”. But if neither “Ukraine’s armed forces nor its people are ready to surrender,” the struggle could escalate into “a broad-based, well-armed, and well-coordinated uprising against the invaders” that would drag on for years or even decades could .

The Telegraph calls this result a “Pyrrhic victory” for the Kremlin because “such a development could lead to domestic political turbulence in Russia“. It would also create “a vast zone of destabilization and insecurity,” while “nearby states will perceive Russia’s political control of Ukraine as illegitimate and a national threat.”

3rd division

The third possible outcome, according to the Atlantic Council, is “a new Iron Curtain”. This would emerge as Ukraine “eventually collapses under the weight of the Russian invasion,” creating a division “that runs along the borders of the Baltic States in the north through the borders of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania in the south.”

In this scenario, “the new division at the heart of Europe brings with it a familiar list of dangers and uncertainties”. Most urgently, a Russian-controlled Ukraine will border a multitude of NATO member states, “raising the prospects of direct conflict.”

4. Escalation

That is the final possible outcome: an escalation of the conflict in a war between NATO and Russia. This is what the Atlantic Council calls “the most dangerous scenario for the future of Europe and the world order”.

Western leaders have confirmed they will not follow suit in Ukraine or impose a NATO-enforced no-fly zone amid fears of engaging directly with Russia could trigger a global conflict.

But should NATO “decide to escalate its involvement in Ukraine,” the think tank warned, “Russia would be forced to decide whether to back down or attack alliance forces directly.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned that if Russia is not stopped in Ukraine, “we will see others threatened – the Baltic StatesPoland, Moldova, and there could be a conflict with NATO”.

This would mean a conflict between the nuclear powers. And “it goes without saying,” said The Telegraph, “that everyone actual use of nuclear weapons would be indescribably catastrophic.” How did the war in Ukraine start and how could it end?

Fry Electronics Team

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