Q. What is Putin’s next move after it appears his initial efforts have been stymied to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv?
A. He is going to bring in more forces. This far he has used “forward detachments” to probe Ukrainian defenses and attempt to coerce the government to surrender. It hasn’t worked. Now he is bringing his main force forward, along with Belorussian forces. He will probably intensify his air activity and use heavy artillery strikes.
Q. How will the war come to an end? Is there still a possibility of a diplomatic solution?
A. A diplomatic solution is unlikely. It could end with Kyiv overrun and a Ukrainian government in exile. Or it could end in a Russian withdrawal to face another operation. Or it could end with a Western and United Nations demand that Putin cannot ignore, due to sanctions and international pressure.
Q. What does the nuclear deterrence activation Putin issued Sunday mean in practical terms?
A. This was a means of pressuring Ukraine in possible negotiations and also a warning for the West not to intervene.
Q. Is there a chance the Ukrainians could win? What would that look like?
A. The Ukrainians could win if warm, wet weather and poor Russian logistics immobilize the Russian force and they have the means to attack and destroy that force. Ukraine could also win if the West and international efforts force Putin to withdraw.
Q. What are the chances the conflict escalates?
A. If Putin wins here, he will go after his next targets, Georgia and the Baltic states. This will bring escalation. At some point, if the fighting in Kyiv intensifies, the U.S. may have to intervene even if it risks escalation.
Q. Will the sanctions issued be effective in stopping Putin?
A. Sanctions might stop Putin eventually but probably not immediately.