Russia Ukraine War: All your questions answered as experts predict what might happen next – World News


As Russian battalions besiege Kyiv, representatives gather to negotiate peace, and sanctions pile up on Moscow, the world is asking: What will happen next?

Will Putin back down? Will the Russians turn their backs on their leader? Will Ukraine negotiate peace?

Here, Andrew Wilson, Professor of Ukraine Studies at University College London, and Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, chemical weapons expert and former commanding officer of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment of the UK, will answer your questions.

According to Latest updates from Ukraine in our live blog

Is there any chance that peace talks will yield a solution?

Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said: “There is no chance to snowball in hell at the moment.

“Maybe if the West threatens the no-fly zone, the Russians can rethink looking for a peaceful solution, because without air superiority, I don’t think Putin can take Kyiv.”

At least 10 people were killed in attacks on Kharkiv today

Professor Wilson is a bit more optimistic, saying: “President Zelensky said that he does not expect much, and given the military situation, Russia will likely ask for the impossible to provide.

“But at least they are talking. I expect angry exchanges and one of the parties will walk away from the negotiation.

“Ukraine has inflicted a lot of casualties on Russia, almost five times the number in Syria.

“Negotiations are also buying time, and with sanctions every day is doing more damage to the Russian economy.”

Can Ukraine accept any of Putin’s demands (like neutrality, handover of Crimea)?

“Perhaps it’s too late for Ukraine to acknowledge the demands made by Russia before it invaded, like giving up its ambitions to join NATO,” said Professor Wilson.

“There is still the possibility that they accept the declaration of neutrality, but certainly not in the way Russia wants, by arming themselves.”

Can Putin compromise his goals, such as regime change and bringing Ukraine back into Russia’s sphere?

Mr. de Bretton-Gordon thought: “He may have to do it to save face.

“Things are going badly, it could be the beginning of the end for Putin and that might just be enough to put him in the balance. It depends a lot on how the fight for Kyiv plays out. ”

The damaged local town hall of Kharkiv today


AFP via Getty Images)

Professor Wilson believes that Putin may be ready to withdraw from Ukraine if he acquires Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk. “Russia has taken a lot of territory and it is possible that Putin could give that up in exchange for Ukraine recognizing the self-proclaimed rebel republics in the Donbass.

“But it will be very difficult for Ukraine. They will also have to take it to Ukraine’s parliament and change the constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority. But I don’t see anything else capable of pleasing Russia.”

What might happen if Russia encircles and encircles Kyiv?

Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said: “Putin’s plan was to surround Kyiv like a medieval siege. If he did what he did in Syria, they would bombard the quotes, hoping everyone would surrender. In Aleppo, they did not surrender after four years, and the siege was finally broken through the use of chemical weapons.

“Chlorine tank bombs were dropped, which could kill people in their shelters, force them to stay on the ground where they were killed or captured and it all happened under his watch. ”

Professor Wilson thinks Putin will not want to destroy Kyiv. “This is not the same as the leveling of Aleppo, or the Chechen capital Grozny. Putin believes that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, and he has been to Kyiv many times, including once in 2013 when he said that Kyiv is the mother of all Russian cities.

“He wouldn’t want the Russians to see images of Kyiv’s devastation. A long siege is a possibility. And the Ukrainians lose to Kyiv in a conventional war, they will fight a guerrilla war, and the UK and others are looking to arm them with small arms, anti-tank missiles, even sniper equipment. “

Are there any instances where Nato could be involved to help Ukraine defeat the Russian invaders?

“For now, it will only provide military hardware and intelligence,” Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said. But I expect that if Putin starts using chemical and biological weapons, NATO will probably step in, and Putin must certainly believe that this will happen.”

Professor Wilson said: “If there is some outrage humanitarian war crime, that could change the terms of the debate. “But we can do more now than just supply Ukraine with weapons, such as limiting Russian naval activities by blockading the Sea of ​​Azov and Ukraine’s southwestern coast off Odessa, and maybe even no-fly zones.”

Can the Russian people get rid of Putin?

Possibly, Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said. “We must do all we can to let the Russian people know that atrocities are being carried out on their behalf.

“Unfortunately, all the key opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny have to go to jail. The Russian state is painting a very different picture from what is actually happening, but the message will be conveyed. “

A school destroyed in the war


AFP via Getty Images)

Is there any chance that Putin’s generals could incite him, and how could that happen?

Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said: “Probably but not sure. He is a dictator and has almost complete power. A bit like Stalin’s purges, anyone who opposed him was eliminated.”

“This is Putin’s war, and while some top officials may be skeptical, it’s clear that no one has the right to question him,” Professor Wilson said.

“But there were military mistakes, operational and tactical errors and casualties were much higher than expected. But I think it will have to get a lot worse before there is any resistance against Putin.”

Can sanctions on Russia force Putin to back down?

Professor Wilson believes so. “The combination of cutting off Russia from Swift and sanctioning the central bank means it can’t touch half of its reserves, which are huge. They don’t have the ability to defend the ruble they think they will, so a series of banking rallies is a real possibility.

“Russia thinks that they can give life as an economic vehicle, but they are wrong if they think they have the support of China. China is more interested in profiting from the global economy and certainly does not want to join them.

“Things could get a lot worse for Russia in the coming days. It would be like pulling a brick across the table with an elastic, you think nothing is going to happen and suddenly get hit in the face.”

Smoke after a missile attack on the TV center of the Ukrainian capital



What other sanctions could be used against him?

“We need a total blanket – everything has to be sanctioned,” Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said. All Russian ships and aircraft must be seized. We need to reduce Russia’s maneuverability.”

Professor Wilson believes that what will hurt Russia the most is ending the world’s dependence on oil and gas, but that is a long-term measure. “We’ve done a lot since Russia cut oil and gas to Ukraine 13 years ago, and that’s about the time it took to find alternatives.”

Any chance China could put pressure on Russia, and will Putin then listen?

“We have to put as much pressure on China as possible, but they are also an autocratic state,” Mr. de Bretton-Gordon said. If China turns its back on Putin, he will probably be finished. We must also make India more vocal in its opposition to Putin.”

“China and Russia are not a full-fledged strategic alliance in which the Chinese will do whatever the Russians want,” Professor Wilson said. In many ways, Russia is a junior partner, and there will be a big change if China begins to see economic and diplomatic damage to itself economically and diplomatically because of what Russia does. doing “.

At least 30 angry Ukrainians confront a Russian military convoy



Military equipment destroyed during the fight with the Russian army in Bucha


Image Zuma Press / PA)

Current sanctions could eventually paralyze Russia’s war machine, and how long could that take?

“It took a very long time,” said Mr. de Bretton-Gordon. “He has unlimited fuel. But the weak point for Putin will be his people and soldiers. If he didn’t pay them for the sanctions and they started taking heavy casualties, their morale would drop. Morale is a very powerful consciousness, and its loss has cost many armies the lives of. “

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