Three Scenarios worth discussion.
- The people of Kharkiv strongly resisted the separatist scenario in 2014-2015. Demonstrations for Ukraine were consistently well-attended, despite the obvious threat of violence. A university city, the fragmented nature of Kharkiv is quite distinct from the unitary, proletarian nature of rebel-held Donbass. Kharkiv seems to have come to the consensus that the city’s newfound stability is all thanks to MAyor Kernes. Now that Lugansk and Donbass are stable, the city is prime for another attempt. Kharkiv has built a wall, but its people just want the war to end. The assassinations in Russia are on the rise. The Mayor stopped the separatists, but would the engine of the city stop if he was killed? This event would happen and the separatists would have better odds. This would plunge Ukraine in chaos. NATO would not intervene. This would have to happen this year or the freedom to travel the EU would make it harder to want to rejoin the Soviet Union. Kharkiv residence that were able to travel visa free are enjoying it. The romance with EU and the West will continue like Romania in the 1990s. Russia can see the days when missiles defenses are on its border, manned by Russian speaker Ukrainian soldiers. That is the fear that is not acceptable to the Rodihna.
- Belarus. The conflict between Russia and NATO probably will begin with Belarus. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko does not need or want Russian military bases on its territory.. He recently allowed five day visa free travel from the EU and USA. This has triggered an underground pro-west feeling among many Bellorussians. Life is too hard there and foreign cash and tourists are welcome.Russia may decide to launch a coup, overthrowing or assassinating Alexander Lukashenko and replacing him with a fully controlled and loyal secret service general. The new leader of Belarus then officially invites Russian troops into Belarus. After this the Kremlin begins to generate hybrid threats to the Baltic countries and Poland. NATO then decides to activate Article 5 and sends High Readiness Forces to protect these states. The Kremlin interprets this step as a declaration of war and responds with a large-scale offensive operation against the Baltic states and Poland.
- Poland. The world watched the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. This is in the NATO mind for Poland. NATO initiating a conflict is a politically palatable cover for an offensive plan into Poland. Yesterday, a USA recon place was within five feet of a Soviet Fighter. At what point does NATO shoot down a fighter in open air space>? What would Moscow response be? NATO resistance would be overrun quickly in the absence of a larger mechanized defensive force posture. Also like Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia are home to sizable ethnic Russian populations that have been at best unevenly integrated into the two countries’ post-independence political and social mainstreams and that give Russia a self-justification for meddling in Estonian and Latvian affairs. Even though the USA is part of NATO, would the current administration participate if Poland scenario of war developed?