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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Climbing the ladder: How the west can manage escalation in Ukraine and beyond | Atlantic Council

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A look at what Russia and its allies may do in eastern Ukraine.

As the war continues, NATO and EU efforts might be critical one way or another. Each of the “rungs” below will rely on Putin’s view and evaluation of how the campaign proceeds. The judgment that the movement has momentarily halted and those alternative measures are required to restore momentum are likely triggers for escalation into each successive phase of the war. A judgment that defeat is impending, and Putin may be deposed, putting all of Putin’s choices on the table. The Russian military will most likely rely on its residual strengths, which include a massive stockpile of rocket and tubed artillery and Cold War-era bombs.

As its access to finances has restricted by severe sanctions, the Russian government may choose to default on the $56 billion owing to European banks. Russia has not yet banned Ukrainian cellphone use, partly due to the need to maintain telecommunications infrastructure for future use. As the likelihood of triumph fades, Putin may rethink his position and try to limit Ukrainian social media and internal communications. Putin may decide to use his arsenal of offensive cyber capabilities, which are formidable. Russian troops might plan a nuclear “accident” involving one or more of Ukraine’s fifteen reactors, which are situated in Yuzhnukraines, Rivne, Khmelnitsky, and Zaporizhzhia.

In a last-ditch effort to achieve military triumph, the use of tactical nuclear weapons inside Ukraine is also a possibility. Such usage would not always result in uncontrolled escalation, which is well within Russian military doctrine. The most likely scenario is that Putin will escalate until he is beaten, ousted from office, or granted concessions. Russia’s international reputation is poor, and the proof of crimes is so overwhelming that false-flag operations will not gain support outside Russia. Providing Ukraine with food, gasoline, replacement parts, and modern equipment is the most effective approach to aid in the defeat of Russian soldiers on the ground in Ukraine.
Source: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/report/managing-escalation-in-ukraine/


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