My Predictions for the Ukraine War

There are a lot of people talking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a lot of moving goalposts in such discussions. I think that everyone who wants to advocate for it should publish what they expect to happen and what specific things they consider as victory conditions.

When Russia first invaded I thought they would win in a matter of weeks. I underestimated the determination of the Ukrainian people and the corruption and the incompetence and corruption of the Russian military. The first time I thought that Ukraine could win was when I read an analysis of the tires on Russian military vehicles breaking because of the cheapest available tires being bought and then not stored correctly to avoid damage, which led to the long stalled convoy. A successful military campaign requires many more difficult tasks than buying good tires and maintaining them correctly. An army that is too corrupt to buy the bare minimum of usable equipment and too incompetent to adapt to failures is not going to do well.

The Ukrainians have done very well with the equipment available, one example is their use of off the shelf drones for dropping grenades into armoured vehicles and for targeting artillery. While the Russians have responded by buying Iranian military drones because they lack the industrial capacity to make their own ones. From the time when the Russians first got bogged down the Ukrainians have been mostly retaking their territory slowly and steadily.

The Russians started the invasion with a significant advantage in aircraft, armoured vehicles, artillery, and ammunition. This advantage has been significantly decreased due to losses of vehicles and artillery, high rates of ammunition use, and Ukrainian capture of Russian equipment. The Ukrainians are getting new vehicles, aircraft, artillery, and ammunition from western countries while sanctions are preventing Russians from importing or manufacturing much.

Currently one important factor for Russia is the ability of their airforce to attack Ukrainian positions while out of range of Ukrainian air defence systems. The MANPAD systems are good for close support but not good for long range. A problem that the Russians will have in the long term is running out of spare parts and being unable to properly maintain aircraft. This will result in loss of aircraft due to accidents and the inability to repair aircraft that has even minor damage.

Here are my specific predictions:

  1. I predict that by the end of 2023 Russia will have a much smaller number of military aircraft through maintenance problems even if Ukraine doesn’t get long-range SAM systems.
  2. I predict that by mid 2024 Ukraine will have air superiority. They will destroy many Russian SAM systems and be able to bomb Russian targets with little risk.
  3. I predict that Russia won’t impose any significant new conscription programs on their population. Such programs are extremely unpopular and Russia doesn’t have the industrial capacity to equip a larger army as they can’t properly equip their current army.
  4. Currently Ukraine is making slow but steady progress in retaking their territory in the East. I predict that before the end of 2023 they will have cut all supply lines to Crimea from the mainland by having artillery that can accurately cover all the distance to the coast of the Sea of Azov. I also predict that the bridge over the Kerch strait will be mostly unusable from now on (on average less than 1/3 the bridge capacity usable). As fast as the Russians can repair it the Ukrainians will bomb it again. At most they will have half of the road lanes available to cars and will be unable to transport any significant amount of military equipment.
  5. Due to Russians lacking supplies I predict that Ukraine will recapture at least half the Crimean land area by the end of 2023.
  6. The regions of Luhansk and Donetsk will be the most difficult to capture as they have been held the longest. I predict that the war will not end until Ukraine controls everything within their 2013 borders including Luhansk and Donetsk. The final victory may happen due to the Russian military collapsing or due to a new Russian government ordering a withdrawal.
  7. I predict that Russia will make significant efforts to help Trump get elected in 2024. But even if they succeed it will be too late for him to help them much or change the outcome.
  8. I predict that Ukraine will win this war before the end of 2025. Even if some of my other predictions turn out to be incorrect I predict that by the end of 2025 the military forces of Russia and Ukraine will not be fighting and that it will be because Ukraine has given the Russian military a proper spanking. If something like the “Troubles” in Ireland happens (which is a real possibility) that doesn’t count as a war.
  9. I predict that Ukraine will not deploy any significant attack inside Russian territory. They will launch small scale attacks on specific military targets but do nothing that the Russian population might consider to be full scale war.
  10. I predict that Putin will not lead Russia 2 months after Ukraine recaptures all their territory. He may not live for long after Ukraine wins, or the Russian withdrawal might happen because Putin dies of apparently natural causes.
  11. After the war I predict that Ukraine will control all their territory from 2013 and there will be a demilitarised zone or no-fly zone in Russian territory.
  12. I predict that after the war some parts of the Russian Federation will break free. There are many different groups who would like to be free of Russia and Ukraine destroying most of the Russian military will make things easy for them. A Russian civil war is a possibility.
  13. I predict that the US will give minimal support to Russia after the war as a strategic plan to block China. I predict that the quality and efficacy of such support will be comparable to the US actions in the Middle East.

I welcome comments disagreeing with this. But please make specific predictions that can be tested and sign your name to them. If you don’t think that a certain event will happen when I predict it then provide a date when you think it will happen or a date by which the opposite will have happened. Also please show enough confidence to make multiple predictions. I’ve made 12 specific predictions, if you think I’m doing badly then make at least 3 specific competing predictions. If you think that Russia will “win” then define what a “win” means in terms of territory occupied when fighting between armies ends and when that will happen. Also if you think that Russia will win then please make a prediction about whether there will be a Ukrainian equivalent of the IRA and if so what they will do.

27 comments to My Predictions for the Ukraine War

  • Peter

    Interesting opinions, but I feel you are lacking data about the actual situation on the ground.

  • Martin

    you are a really funny guy, I haven’t read such a nonsense on Linux related blogs for a long time

  • jesus christ

    “A Russian civil war is a possibility.” – it’s exactly what is happening in former Ukraine, you stupid kangaroo

  • Peter: What data do you think I’m lacking? I’ve read many news sources about this. Do you have any predictions to share?

    Martin: In what way do you think I’m incorrect? Please make your own predictions, sign your name to them, and we can determine who is most accurate in a few years.

    Jesus: No what’s happening in Ukraine is a Russian invasion. By all accounts the Ukrainian people are solidly opposed to Russia. In the areas that Russia captured in 2014 there was a reasonable support for Russia, but I expect that the effects of the war have changed their minds. Like Brexit voters realising that exiting a stable situation isn’t all fun and games.

    The comments are way below the quality I expect.

  • George

    Hi Etbe,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and really hope you’re right. This being said because of it’s geographical location, taking back Crimea will certainly be a difficult task. Hopefully, the F16 will have a positive impact on this.
    It’s still crucial to help the UA, for instance by giving money to the UNITED24 effort, even a few dollars can have an impact. Or write to your PM to ask for bigger military packages.

  • K Haris

    You are just parroting Western (especially British) Government/Media talking points. As has been proven time after time, failure after failure, Game changer after game changer these talking points are usually based on nothing more than faulty intelligence and wishful thinking and more importantly PROJECTION. But there again what more do you expect when debate is stiffed and information censored.. I mean here in the UK we cannot even access! Fortunately there are other methods of accessing information for comparison to what ‘our’ media are saying. Let’s just look at some of the recent Western talking points:

    1, Putin is dying or is dead = Really? looked fine enough at the African Summit
    2, Sanctions will destroy the Russian economy = Yeah how’s that one working out?
    3, The Russian oligarchs run Russia and want Putin out = He has an approval rating our Politico’s could only dream off
    4, The Russian people are ready for revolt = So why haven’t they?
    5, The Russian military is incompetent = all military’s make mistakes Murphy’s Law
    6, The Russian military is running out of weapons = And yet they still keep coming
    7, The Russian military is retreating = Checked a status map recently? I think you’ll find they’re on the offensive
    8, Javelin will change the course of the SPO = Dismal failure
    9, HIMARS will change the course of the SPO = Now being shot down and jammed
    10, SwitchBlades will change the course of the SPO = Dismal failure
    11, Leopards will change the course of the SPO = Yeah they worked out well.. won’t even mention Challenger2
    12, Bradley will change the course of the SPO = They burn nicely
    13, F16’s = Yeah right without and integrated air defence network and AWACS they won’t do much.

    You’ll note I’ve used the abbreviation for the Special Military Operation because nether Ukr and Rus have declared war yet… This is still a limited by task/goal operation.

    This war needs to be turned off ASAP or else those sitting safely behind their keyboards may find themselves doing some actual fighting in a world of hurt real soon.

    Both sides have fought with distinction (except for the WWII left overs – you know what I mean)

    Oh and before you call me a Putin shill or whatever I spent 10 years in the British Army and served on the front lines.

    Awaiting your reply

  • happosai

    I wish I had as much optimizm as you but you are way too heavily counting on Russias inability to repair and maintain, and build new military gear. Heaviliy sanctioned countries such as Iran and North korea manage that too, so will Russia. There is a steady stream of new hits of Russian Lancet drones, showing even relatively high tech chips pass through sanctions.

  • Peter

    Interesting opinions, but I feel you are lacking data about the actual situation on the ground.

    Peter: What data do you think I’m lacking? I’ve read many news sources about this. Do you have any predictions to share?

    I will leave the predictions to others.
    My Opinions:
    1. most/all “news” is a manufactured narrative with the goal of getting the populace to support them.
    2. at some mid level the military leaders as they rise through the ranks and become “political” … virtually none of them are credible.
    3. sources of valid information can be had by listening to the facts presented from Some military and geopolitical experts (and _ignoring_ their opinions).
    a short list, of the most easily accessible, in no particular order:
    Scott Ritter
    Brian Berletic
    Mike Jones
    Pepe Escobar
    Douglas Macgregor
    George Galloway
    Danny Haiphong
    Judge Napolitano

    good day Sir

  • George

    I stopped reading your list at “Scott Ritter”. The RT and Spuntik contributor who was touring Russia during the war to promote his book. The guy who compares the Ukrainian government with the Nazi regime.

  • Ted

    Interesting predictions I largely agree, and wouldn’t say I have more insight or confidence into them to make better predictions.
    I hope for a shorter timetable to collapse. Hopefully a bloodless regime change in Russia. Elections are in September.
    Putin largely lost this war almost immediately. His only hope was surprise. Russia does not have the population or economy to win this. And both were made worse by starting this war. He lost support of the dwindling population, and destroyed their ailing economy. If the Europeans hadn’t been shutting down all their nuclear power plants it would have been even faster.
    It could probably be argued that he lost it in 2013 by bloodying the nose of a former nuclear power. It caused the Ukraine to have to strengthen its bonds with the West and wake up to a need to upgrade its military.

  • George: I agree that retaking Crimea will be a difficult task, that’s why I made a prediction about >50% of land captured not the prediction that it is all taken immediately supplies run out that many people predict.

    Harris: I didn’t predict that Putin would die of “natural causes”, I speculated that a death of “apparently natural causes” might precede a Russian withdrawal. I did predict that he won’t lead Russia 2 months after Ukraine recaptures it’s territory. Maybe he will arrange some deal to leave power peacefully while alive that involves a comfortable retirement, maybe he will escape to a country without an extradition treaty with Russia. The problem with giving up an autocracy is that it involves losing the power while keeping the enemies.

    What is your basis for thinking that Putin is popular? Popular leaders don’t need to have journalists assassinated, they also don’t have the “fires from smoking” problem that seems prevalent in Russia at the moment.

    Regarding the incompetence of the Russian military, can you cite another example of such a large convoy bogged down because of poor maintenance due to corruption?

    Kherson was the only regional capital city captured by the Russians during this war, it was liberated and remains free. Battle lines move back and forth during a war so the capture of major cities is a good way to measure success.

    Your claims about the effectiveness of western weapons is the reason why predictions are good about such things. Anyone can make any claim about how effective various weapons are and even when the war is over determining how effective each weapon was can be difficult, even for people who were there (there are ongoing disputes about the details of WW2 to this day). Make predictions that can be verified and we can compare who is most accurate in future.

    Regarding “WW2 left overs”, which country has the most persecution of Jews and LGBT people? Hint it’s not the country with a Jewish president.

    Why does serving in the British army exclude being a fan of Putin? Many American veterans are fans of Fox and Tucker.

    happosai: North Korea exists because China wanted it to, the US and allies captured almost all of it before the Chinese got involved. The land border with China means that North Korea gets whatever China wants them to get. The countries in the middle east trade with various countries that want their oil, Iran has been helped by Russia in the past. Now Iran and Russia are working together, that’s good for both of them but doesn’t compare to the US and the EU.

    But please make some predictions about this that can be tested.

    Peter: yes there is a lot of propaganda, RT is one propaganda source that I reject in it’s entirety. Anyone who works for RT values money over truth. George has a point.

    Brian Berletic has as his most prominent claim about Ukraine the conspiracy theory about Nazis.

    The first 4 Mike Jones returned by Google don’t seem to comment on Ukraine.

    Judge Napolitano is employed by Fox, the American RT.

    Please make predictions based on your “data”. Then when we see how the accuracy of your predictions compares to mine we can determine how your “news” sources compare with mine.

    Ted: I would like Russia to withdraw sooner, the longer it goes on the more people die. But Russia can’t withdraw without Putin admitting an error and he would rather have hundreds of thousands of people needlessly die than admit an error.

    I agree with most of your points but I don’t think that translates to a change in election results in Russia because I think that like most things in Russia elections are fraudulent. If the general population of Russia remove Putin from power it will probably be more like the removal of Nicolae Ceau?escu than a democratic change of government.

  • A few points, not based on “beliefs” but facts on the ground:

    Had Russia wanted to conquer Ukraine, then it would have sent in many more troops than the 190,000-odd which it did. Russia’s aim is to leave Ukraine as a dysfunctional rump state. It currently controls about 23% of Ukraine and will look to take maybe four more oblasts, roughly about 43% in all.

    Artillery is the decisive military hardware in this war. Russia is far ahead in this aspect and also has the manufacturing capacity to make what it needs. Ukraine has only outside sources and the US has no capacity to supply the needed artillery.

    Whatever Ukraine is achieving is due to Western aid, Western advisers on the ground, and even Western PR specialists advising Zelensky. Else, it would have crumbled long ago.

    When it comes to manpower, Russian outnumbers Ukraine five to one. That is a telling statistic.

    There is a Western myth that Russia helped Trump get elected in 2016. Known as Russiagate, it has been debunked time and again. Yet diehards continue to believe in this fiction.

    There is a lot of history to this conflict, beginning with the break-up of the Soviet Union, the promises made by old man Bush to Gorbachev, the NATO expansion that was begun by Clinton and Dubya, and the bid to expand NATO to Russia’s border. To Moscow, that is an existential threat and that is why we have a war today.

    Ukraine will not win this war. There will be no clear victor. A simmering conflict will continue for a long time, as it did in Chechnya.

    The US will lose interest in the war after the 2024 election, no matter whether Biden wins or Trump takes over.

  • Sam: What makes you think that Russia didn’t want to conquer Ukraine? If they hadn’t focused on attacking Kyiv at the start and had instead dug trenches in places they could supply they would have been in a much better situation now. Attacking the capital is not the approach to leaving a country as a “rump state”.

    I’m sure that Russia wants to capture more oblasts, but it’s been steadily losing. It only captured one regional capital in this war and that has been liberated. Russia has been losing since the 2nd of March 2022. Why do you think that trend will reverse?

    Russia started the war far ahead in artillery and tanks, they had many destroyed and captured due to mismanagement. Why do you think that Russia has more manufacturing capacity than the US?

    Yes things would have gone badly for Ukraine if they hadn’t had outside help. That’s why I predict that Russia will go all out in trying to get Trump re-elected. Trump aims to diminish NATO to help Russia.

    Russia outnumbers Ukraine as it outnumbered Germany in WW2. In spite of the help the US gave Russia the Russians had greater losses than the Germans even when Germany attacked Russian fortifications. Better technology and training makes a huge difference.

    Diehards continue to deny a connection between Trump and Russia in spite of all the convictions. The convictions show that it wasn’t fiction, people on the Trump/Russia side deny facts. Flynn worked for Russia and Trump at the same time, pled guilty to crimes related to that, and then was pardoned by Trump. Trump pardoned Flynn for a reason and only a guilty person can be pardoned. Claiming that Russia was not involved is a conspiracy theory.

    Please make a clear prediction of “not win this war” in terms of territory occupied etc. Please make a clear statement of “lose interest” that can be tested.

  • Russell, I did not comment on your post to enter into an argument. You are free to disagree. That’s the way a mature adult would operate – agree to disagree.

    Since you ask about the Russiagate myth, here are three stories which I wrote about it:

    I have no problem with other people believing in myths. If I am satisfied with evidence, that does it for me.

  • How about “agree to disagree while making predictions that can be tested”? Otherwise it’s of no more value than the talking heads on Fox.

    I place much greater weight on evidence that has been tested in the legal process.

  • I’m sure you are much better than I am in using search engines. In fact, I’m a hundred sure about it. You can find evidence for every one of my assertions on the Web.

    I would not dream of insulting your intelligence by treating you as one would a baby.

  • George

    Sam, I don’t know where you get your information, but the Russia Army is not anymore the artillery super power it was 12 months ago. A large numbers of ammunition depots have been destroyed and their logistic is under constant stress, mainly because of the HIMARS and the StormShadow/SCALP missiles. The NATO Howitzers can shot targets that are far away with great accuracy. Currently, there is a lot of reports of Russian D30 Howitzers being destroyed, while those are still lethal, they are inaccurate and with a much shorter range than a M777 for instance. Russian artillery will not disappear anytime soon, but it’s much weaker now.


    Sam Real Clear Investigations/Politics is a right wing propaganda organisation.

  • Look at the person who wrote that article: Aaron Mate is very much on the left.

  • Here is a very detailed piece from John Mearsheimer on the current state of the offensive:


  • George

    John Mearsheimer remains a controversial person and a Russian apologist. In 2015, he was blaming the “West” for the Russian invasion of Donbass.
    I tend to take his opinions with a giant pile of salt. His first paragraph is clearly an over-exaggeration of the situation that is NOT confirmed by sites like Oryx.

    I would suggest another source like Anders Puck Nielsen. He is a Military analyst from Denmark: Since the beginning of the conflict his analytics are reasonably accurate.

  • The Washington Post has a paywall. The article claiming that Elon helped Ukrain was disproved quickly, makes it look like the article was an attempt to get ahead of bad news.

    The Financial Times has a paywall, but if the article content matches the headline statement “victory by 2025 is possible” then it’s not a great support for your position.

    Regarding the New Statesman (and all the other similar coverage), in war you often have a choice between rapid advance with large losses and slow advance with small losses. It seems that Ukraine has been going for small advances (and in some places no advances) to keep the ratio of loss of life and equipment well in their favour. They have launched an attack on Crimea, destroyed major anti-aircraft systems, and used the lack of Russian air cover to attack a dry dock destroying a submarine and a large transport ship.

    It seems to me that the Ukrainians are doing well, destroying strategically important (and expensive) Russian military assets, launching attacks on targets that were previously impossible for them to hit, and also making slow but steady gains in territory.

    I really wish I’d thought about the naval support situation for Russia. In retrospect it’s obvious that Ukraine would want to hit major anti-air systems and dry docks. I wish I had something in my predictions list about that.

    Sam you have written 8/24 comments here (8/25 when I post this comment), that’s quite a lot for someone who doesn’t want to “enter into an argument”. This is OK as I’m happy to argue. ;)

  • jesus christ

    Are you ready for any revisions of your “predictions”, kangaroo?

  • Are you saying that the current plans to recruit women into the Russian army count as a “significant new conscription program”?