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Russia should not win the war in Ukraine, Western politicians say. But what if that still happens? Ukraine's counteroffensive did not lead to a large-scale breakthrough at the front, the war became positional, and Western aid weakened. Against this background, under the headline "What if Russia wins?", the German Die Zeit published an analysis of two military experts. Their conclusions sound like a warning about a scenario they themselves consider real.
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The authors of the analysis are Carlo Massala, professor at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, and military expert Nico Lange, a specialist in Eastern Europe. According to the two analysts, a "victory" is considered a situation in which Moscow will permanently gain control over the already occupied regions of Ukraine or conquer new territories in addition to them.
In Ukraine: population outflow, radicalization and nuclear weapons?
In the event of such a victory, Ukraine risks becoming a "permanent hotbed of instability in Eastern Europe," Masala and Lange write. The two experts suggest that Ukrainian troops will continue to fight - as part of the regular army or as guerrilla groups, and Russia will "continue violence in the occupied territories - purges, murders, child abductions, torture." Against this background, more and more Ukrainians will leave the country, and a "high degree of militarization of society" could lead to an increase in "extremist and aggressive forces."
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The forecast also contains an aspect previously considered unlikely - the creation of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Kiev denies having any such plans. But, as Masala and Lange write in Die Zeit, in the event of Russia's victory, "rapid development and preparation for the use of Ukrainian nuclear weapons would become more likely."
In Russia: neo-imperialism, blackmail and new wars?
As for Russia itself, in the event of a victory over Ukraine, experts expect an increase in Russian nationalism and neo-imperialism, as well as manifestations of revenge - plans for new wars and a transition to open blackmail in the supply of energy resources. As likely future targets for Russian attacks, experts name both Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, as well as the Baltic republics - that is, NATO territories.
In Europe: Extremism and Russia's Dominance?
In the EU, and in Germany in particular, Russia's eventual victory in the war against Ukraine will make it difficult to find public support for the necessary security measures, Masala and Lange predict. They explain this by the strengthening of left-wing and right-wing extremists, who advocate seeking agreements with Russia and, ultimately, a kind of "submission" to it. In this regard, the two experts recall that some parties are in favor of their countries leaving the EU and NATO.
Moscow, in turn, would accompany this development with "intense influence, open support, funding and disinformation." And given the situation in the United States, NATO's days may be "numbered" as some countries may withdraw from the Alliance, experts warn. In this situation, "Russia would dominate Europe."
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On a global scale: the end of the liberal world order?
Russia's victory over Ukraine would have "catastrophic consequences not only for Europe, but most likely for the rest of the world," the experts said. Masala and Lange are of the opinion that it is no coincidence that destabilization of the Near and Middle East is taking place, and China is roughly testing the limits of what is possible with regard to the Philippines. In this regard, experts also mention Nagorno-Karabakh.
They expect that one of the consequences of Russia's victory over Ukraine will be that large powers will be able to attack small ones, "settle old territorial accounts" or try to establish regional dominance. In this case, a Chinese attack on Taiwan would be "highly likely," experts said. And they suggest that Russia's victory in Ukraine could lead to "the end of the liberal and the beginning of the authoritarian world order."
The conclusion: support for Ukraine must be strengthened
The economic and political consequences of Russia's victory in Ukraine would be far more expensive than the military resources needed for Kiev to defeat Russia, the two experts concluded, calling for increased German aid. According to them, Russian President Vladimir Putin "seeks to destroy the world as we know it." To save this world, the West must "repel the attack along with Ukraine," which the two experts see as a future member of the EU and NATO.
The article in Die Zeit concludes with the thesis that Putin's defeat and his foreseeable collapse could open the way to a peaceful and constructive role for Russia in Europe. Therefore, the two experts believe that Russia's defeat in Ukraine is also in the interest of Russia itself and its society.
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