Saturday, February 26

Ukraine. What happens next?

To answer many questions regarding this, how it affects us, my friend's citizenship, what happens etc., is not easy. But I'll try.

Initially I had written outlining what I reckoned would be the most likely scenario. That was Russia taking control of the government and calling the whole country part of Russia with new passports, Russian laws and regulations applying, enforced by Russian police and troops and so forth. I'd said that people wouldn't be happy and resistance would continue but the majority would need food and to earn money to buy food and so shops and factories would re-open and life, of a sort, would resume.

However . . . when I attempted to check this with Olga I realised I'd got it wrong. Yes, my likely scenario of Ukraine ceasing to exist and being part of Russia may be right but no, the vast majority of people will not accept that. They will simply not give up and continue to fight. It doesn't matter what happens in a legalistic way to them, they're not giving up and will continue fighting in groups, or joining together to create safer spaces here and there, making bread and gathering food and doing whatever they can to take back control in any place that becomes vulnerable.

So they will slowly diminish in numbers as they get killed by Russian troops or taken prisoner but no-one is going to submit to Russian police or start working in a Russian-controlled factory or store. So Russia will have to repopulate businesses and factories with people from elsewhere if this part of the continent is to continue to produce goods and trade. Being unable to trade with Europe will also have a big effect and it is conceivable that large areas will become unoccupied and turn to dust, although China might help and be a new trading partner but it will not be Ukraine nationals who man the machines or equipment or communications systems. They will, 90% of them at any rate, continue bashing away at whatever targets they can reach with whatever weapons they can get hold of.

It is a strange scenario to consider for me, as I'd been inclined to think that day-to-day needs would take priority and people would succumb, albeit secretly still hating the new occupiers, and use the new banks and shops that Russia sets up. But no, they won't. They'll get by without money and fuel. It'll be rough and children will be educated by parents at home. The internet and phone system may well collapse for them too although the brighter ones should be able to tap into the new Russian cables or whatever. Life will be basic and dirty for her son and family, as it will be for everyone, whether they were the company boss before or a bus driver.

This will go on for some considerable time. One of two things will follow. The resistance numbers fall quickly as nasty weapons wipe out people or massive troop imports arrest them and take them away. That's basically it and all is lost. Someone else will take over her apartment and chuck away her paintings and all that she has in the world that's not here in a tiny house in Astcote. Or, and we must cling on to this hope, the many protests around the world lead to a decision by one or more other nations to do more by way of support.

If such support is provided reasonably quickly then resistance numbers will be likely to be maintained and Russian equipment and troops may not be as successful in quelling rebellion. As has been seen so far, small amounts of resistance have kept Russian advances at bay in some places for a while. Heavy missiles and bombardment, though, could quickly wipe away such pockets and support which prevents Russia, or makes it much more risky for Russia to use more advanced weaponry, is, therefore, vital to be maintained and increased now.

There is a distinct risk of war with Russia happening, either by deliberate action or mistake. Required to fight then on several fronts against a rather more powerful mass of forces may well result in the eye being taken off the Ukraine ball and resistance will succeed even more effectively and even remove Russian troops from the country. That is then , though, a problem for the rest of us as we all become vulnerable to whatever Russia feels able to throw at us. At that point I believe very much that internal resistance in Russia will have developed to a point where Putin may either be obliged or, conceivably forced, to stop. I would expect a smart assassination by special forces but I would also not be surprised if wealthy and powerful people in Russia decide that enough is enough as those otherwise currently futile-looking sanctions do actually begin to bite some in the arse.

Even if air support is not provided by NATO, some undercover or anonymous support could be organised and would make a huge difference without causing WW3.

So these are the likely scenarios as we see them. There is considerable violence and loss of life and pain to come in all events.

Olga has a visa permitting her to live and work here until sometime in 2024, at which point she'll need to apply for an extension after passing another English exam or whatever further requirements may then apply. If Ukraine does cease to exist then so too will the validity of her passport but I believe the Home Office will find a way to cope with that at the time. So she is safe and expects to continue to be so. To visit her family, however, will be impossible for some considerable time as we see it, whatever develops in the short term.

Russia, as Ukraine may well be called then, will allow her to return, assuming there are flights there once more, but it is unlikely that she would get permission to travel to come back to the UK again. I would also most certainly be persona non grata in Russia! So only when either her family or friends get out of the country, should they ever have a chance to do so, or in that golden hope of success in retrieving Ukraine from the grasp of Putin, will she be able to greet them again. She is resolved to that being some years in the near-worst scenario, never in the worst where they're killed or imprisoned, six months in the best.

Anyone reading this will no doubt have concluded that this really only ends well with the removal of Putin. That will almost certainly only be possible if he dies, either of illness or being whacked as he is not going to be deposed. My guess is that there are plans in place and they may save the day for us all if someone has the guts to enact them.