Sources in US Intelligence now think that Russia is winning the Ukrainian war and will end up with a Sudetenland solution to be followed in several years or sooner by Russian occupation and absorption. That means Russia could consolidate gains now and wait, just as it did after Crimea, for the next opportunity to take the rest of Ukraine. If the Belarusians come in, advance the timetable.
While NATO arms and support still flow, Russian meat grinder offensives in the east and south coast are gradually but surely besting the Ukrainians. Thus Ukraine may lose its access to the Black Sea and see its east carved off.
The Belarusians are currently making offensive moves on their side of the border and may enter the war in the fall in a renewed attempt to take Kyiv. In fact, there has even been talk of Belarus officially merging with Russia.
This is classic slice up and conquer, again, just like Hitler’s 1938 move into the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovskia. A few months later he marched into Prague. It could take Putin more time than that. But current Western Intelligence estimates say he will likely get the same opportunity in Kyiv. Ukraine may then cease to exist as an independent nation.
The best Zelenskyy can hope for at the conference table is a de facto acceptance of current Russian gains. His only hope after that is NATO membership, unlikely to come. The West will not in the end risk oil supplies or the threat of war for a country that can’t hold out.
Up until now the gamble was good. High return, embarrassing Putin, for low investment, arms supply. But as Putin grinds on to slow but inevitable gains the gamble becomes a suckers play. All the high minded rhetoric about Ukrainian freedom and independence will then be thrown out the window. The West will want to forget another cut and run.
Ukraine will get EU membership. Will the EU stand up to Putin on the ground? No way in hell. Big talk still comes out of Berlin, Paris, London, and Warsaw. But nobody will put boots on the tarmac when the fit really hits the shan.
Who will this embolden? China. If Biden, after taking blame for the midterms, leaves “for health reasons” or is forced to resign, then Token-In-Chief Kamala Harris takes over. The Chinese have watched her and are likely not impressed.
If Biden is gone, say, in December, there will be a leadership vacuum until Harris settles in. It will get worse after that, as she sends signals of further weakness and incompetence emanating from behind the Resolute Desk. That’s when the Chinese will strike against Taiwan. Figure spring at the latest, perhaps in tandem with a Belarusian move into Ukraine.
This is not an optimistic scenario, though it is not carved into stone. However, given current readings of trends and intentions it seems like the probable play by Russia and China. Stay tuned.