How long will this war last? What are the risks of a conflict that is evolving in an unexpected way? Analysts look to Afghanistan and even to the battle of Stalingrad, and glimpse a scenario that goes far beyond the "blitzkrieg" that Vladimir Putin immagined. The Pentagon assesses the situation in Kiev and believes that it will take the Russians another 7 days to completely surround it and between 4 and 6 weeks to be able to take control of the country. But this will not mean the end of the war, because - according to American experts - it will take 10-20 years to find a political and military solution. History teaches us this.
Russia-Ukraine, how long will the war last?
The war in Ukraine is not going the way Putin planned. Ukrainian resistance is strong, not only among the military but also among civilians who are highly motivated to protect their land. And so far only one city, Kherson, would have been conquered. Although, until a few hours ago, the mayor has continued to deny that it is totally in the hands of the Russians. Therefore, no goal has yet been achieved, other than the death of thousands of people, from one side to the other. The difficulties - logistical and military - encountered in the first seven days of battle forced the Kremlin to raise the bar: if initially Putin's troops had a more cautious approach, to limit losses and avoid too many civilian casualties, now they have intensified the offensive, hitting cities with heavy attacks. The Tsar is discontented and wants results.
Military experts say it is still too early to clearly delineate the trajectory of the war. Studying the battlefield, and what happened in the first week, will be long and difficult. According to the US Department of Defense, it is still unclear what tactics the Russians will use: whether they will gradually strangle the city, cut off supplies, or fight street by street. Analysts wonder how long the Ukrainian forces will be able to resist and, above all, how long the supplies, military and food, will last. Some people speculate that within a week they may have run out of ammunition.
At that point it will be clear Putin's real intentions: if the Russians will limit themselves to conquering Kiev and the eastern part of the country, or if they will then point towards Lviv and arrive at the Polish border. The situation is dynamic and the forecast - notes the Pentagon - is based on the military information available and must be adjusted.
The NATO allies think, however, that the Ukrainian forces will resist for a long time, because they are used to fighting: while the Russians showed, even in the past, less capacity on the battlefield and most of the soldiers seemed disoriented. Also because they didn't even know where they were going and probably didn't imagine they had to go in Ukraine. The Kiev army, on the other hand, has been involved in the Donbass for eight years.
Also according to the British Foreign Office, the conflict could continue for 10 years, and like the Pentagon they believe the Russians will eventually lose. We also have to evaluate what will happen once the country has been conquered. Ukraine is two and a half times the size of Italy and has over 40 million inhabitants. The ghost of Afghanistan at the time of the war with Russia is a real possibility. When French President Emmanuel Macron warns that we need to prepare for a long-lasting conflict in Ukraine, refers also to this perspective of resistance based on guerrilla warfare and occupation sabotage.
Then there is also the other side of the story to analyze: how long the Russian troops will be able to resist. As already mentioned, from a military point of view, things are not going as Putin expected, and he had to deploy tens of thousands more men into the field. The morale in the country is growing, despite the many deaths that this war is causing. There is maximum collaboration from almost all of the rest of the world. And many volunteers are arriving from neighboring territories. Something is happening that no one expected and it is not known how long it will last. And then the scenario of a possible defeat of Putin also opens up, although in the long term.
Ukraine is not like Belarus, which in 2020 tried to rebel against a post-Soviet dictatorship by occupying the squares but was crushed by a repressive state apparatus that had Russian weapons, organizational structures, support. Ukraine is different, it is a country with a freely elected pro-Western government, with a valid army and above all a people motivated to defend themselves. Trying to defeat him will mean investing enormous resources: war costs billions a day. And above all, it costs human lives.
If this were not enough there is also a Russian home front: there are squares that attempted to rebel. Young people no longer accept the tsar's dictatorship. Even the daughter of the most faithful Kremlin spokesman Peshkov joined the protests. Even the intellectual world, artists, sportsmen are expressing their dissent. And then, there is a most important front, the one that could have the greatest impact on the president: those oligarchs who got rich thanks to him and who now fear losing everything if Russia ends up cornered due to sanctions.
If the invasion gets bogged down and if the home front gets complicated, it will be the worst hour, that of a Putin in difficulty who could choose to go all-in and drag Russia into a no-longer-cold war with the West. At that point the nightmare of a European tragedy would open, the most horrible unexpected event like in 1914 after Sarajevo. Unless some Russian colonel or oligarch decides that the risk is too high and intervenes by getting rid of Putin.