Lasha Tughushi, Editor in Chief of DFWatch.

On the 18th day since the start of the Russian aggression, more and more people, as well as politicians and experts, say that Ukraine will win the war. Russia has failed to crush either the Ukrainian army or its people. The more atrocities it inflicts, the stronger the resistance of the Ukrainians. It has already reached a point where there are reports of depletion of Russia’s military potential, which pushes Vladimir Putin to take even more reckless steps. This is manifested in the increased brutality against peaceful settlements, recruitment of mercenaries from different regions, and destruction of the last remnants of freedom in his own country.  

However, let’s assume that Russia manages to capture Mariupol, Kharkiv, and other major cities and appoint collaborationist rulers there. What picture can we see emerging in that case? Even in such an apocalyptic scenario, it is nearly inevitable that a fierce guerrilla war will break out in Ukraine. The country will face an even worse humanitarian catastrophe, millions of refugees, thousands of dead and wounded civilians or the military, devastated cities or other settlements, shattered economy, and a lack of development prospects, all of which combined amount to actual genocide. 

Noteworthy in this regard is Putin’s open letter published last year, in which he expressed doubts about the existence of the Ukrainians as an ethnicity. This is the faded paradigm of the old Russian chauvinists, as if the Ukrainians do not exist and they are just Russians, although for some reason they do not know it themselves.

If he succeeds in Ukraine, President Putin won’t stop and will continue the “powerful march”. He will try, like Belarus, to reshape Central Asia. Before that, however, his target will most likely be the Caucasus.

Russia has deep roots here. The security of Armenia almost entirely depends on it. Armenians have very little room for maneuver to avoid the Belarusian model, which is completely unacceptable to them. 

However, for Russia, Georgia is the most problematic in the Caucasus, as it is at the forefront of the Euro-Atlantic movement along with Ukraine. If it wins in Ukraine, Russia will naturally not want to have a NATO member in the long run on its southern borders. Initially it will demand from Tbilisi at least a deviation from the Euro-Atlantic course in favor of Moscow, while lately it will inevitably put Georgia on the path of annihilating its sovereignty. Putin will not allow, as he has said publicly several times, the mistakes that the Bolsheviks made in the formation of the USSR, when they allowed the Soviet republics to leave the Union.

Russia will have another historic round of confrontation with Turkey over Azerbaijan, which will create another potentially important crisis hub for serious, heated conflict.

In the process of “reformatting” the South Caucasus, Iran will also lay its claims as it perceives itself as a great neighbor in the region with its own vision of history and justice. In any case, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the balance of power and influence distribution will be in the region.

In the context of Ukraine, in the near future it will be problematic for Russia to control its borders with NATO states, in terms of the influx of troops and military equipment, which will invoke the escalation of its relations with the Alliance. Consequently, this will greatly increase the threat of military confrontation, including the use of nuclear potential.

A hallmark of Putin’s paranoia is that the longer he acts, the more viral he damages the surrounding environment, creating hotbeds of devastation along Russia’s borders.

This is the reason why the Kremlin’s adventure in Ukraine should be stopped immediately, otherwise it will be stopped at the cost of more blood and much farther away from Kyiv!