The Russian-Ukraine conflict— Europe’s largest land war since 1945 — has created a strategic fulcrum that could have a long-lasting impact on future geopolitics and geo-economics. It could lead to the emergence of a multi-polar world with China- Russia at one end and the US at the other end of the spectrum.
Of course, Russia will have to give way to China as the lead, because of its economic leverage. Having initiated the conflict US and Russia do not know how to pull out of the mess. The biggest losers of course will be Ukraine and Europe.
Ukraine will have to contend with the loss of its Eastern territories contiguous to Crimea and the widespread destruction of its industrial belt, including the city of Kharkiv. Post the collapse of the USSR, Europe had got a carpe diem moment to integrate Russia economically as an unending source of essential energy and raw materials.
Having missed that, they have no option but to begin rearming and strengthening NATO, already noticeable with Germany having hiked its defense budget two-fold.
Tactically, I foresee, an increase in the tempo of operations in the next fortnight. Both sides seem to have consolidated their positions in Eastern Ukraine. The Russian military is under pressure to show some substantial results by Victory Day in May. The US continues to support Ukraine militarily and this has greatly enhanced their staying power. Mariupol may spring some surprises for the Russians.
The reported statement of the CIA Director on the possibility of use of tactical nuclear weapons assumes importance. Russian doctrine allows for such use on the battlefield. Post the sinking of Moskva, it is a feasible option especially as Victory Day closes in. The war has several valuable lessons on warfighting for the Indian military in view of the large holding of weapon platforms from Russia and their associated vulnerabilities.
It is important that a diplomatic solution soon emerges, else the world will see the continued loss of lives and destruction of Ukrainian cities. One distinct possibility is the conflict developing into a prolonged war. Russian military could get bogged down in a long struggle and street fighting as was witnessed in the destruction of Grozny in Chechnya.