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Russia’s War Calculus: Understanding the Impact on Ukraine and Global Security

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In recent years, Russia’s aggressive actions on the global stage have raised concerns about its war calculus and the implications it holds for international security. The invasion of Ukraine has been a particularly brutal manifestation of Russia’s ambitions, leading to devastating consequences for the country and reverberations across the globe. As middle-aged men navigating a complex world, it’s important for us to understand the dynamics at play and the potential impact on our lives. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of Russia’s war calculus, examining the historical context, potential scenarios, and the post-conflict phase. Let’s explore this critical topic together.

Historical Context: From Peace to Conflict

Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine may have come as a shock to many, but it is essential to recognize the historical context that has shaped this conflict. For decades, Europe had enjoyed a period of relative peace, with the memories of past wars fading into the background. However, history has a way of resurfacing, reminding us that peace is not guaranteed indefinitely. The invasion of Ukraine serves as a stark reminder that the long arc of history cannot be easily dismissed.

The Brutality of Russia’s Invasion

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been characterized by brutality and shamefulness, leaving a lasting impact on both the Ukrainian people and the international community. The shock and awe that accompanied the initial reports of the invasion were reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, when the world was astonished by the unfolding events. It is crucial to avoid falling into the trap of recency bias, limiting our perspective to a few decades rather than considering the centuries of war that have shaped our world.

Potential Scenarios: Assessing the Risk Factors

As we navigate the uncertain landscape of Russia’s war calculus, it is essential to consider the potential scenarios that may unfold. While the future remains uncertain, we can explore three possible outcomes as a starting point for our analysis.

Scenario 1: Quick Resolution and Normalization

In this scenario, there is a 20% probability that the war in Ukraine winds down quickly, and economic and market activities return to a semblance of normalcy. However, this scenario appears unlikely, given Russia’s long-term planning and commitment to achieving its goals. Putin’s intentions to create a puppet regime in Kyiv make it improbable for Russia to back down and allow Ukraine to remain independent.

Scenario 2: Deterioration of Relations and Geopolitical Tensions

The more likely scenario, with a 70% probability, involves a significant deterioration of relations between Russia and the West. This would result in disrupted economic trade and energy exports, but falls short of total isolation. The geopolitical tensions would create what can be considered as Cold War II. Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and oil, particularly Germany’s dependence, would serve as a weak link in this scenario.

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Scenario 3: Geopolitical Armageddon

While less probable, with a 10% likelihood, a complete breakdown in relations between Russia and the West cannot be discounted. This scenario would compare to the height of the Cold War era and would have severe economic implications for Europe due to its dependence on Russian energy. However, the economic pain and the lack of political support for such extreme measures make this outcome less likely.

Post-Conflict Phase: A Challenge for Russia

If Russia were to succeed in its military campaign and achieve its objectives in Ukraine, it would face the daunting task of dealing with the post-conflict phase. Unlike previous interventions, Russia would find itself ill-prepared to address the security, political, and socio-economic fallout of an indefinite post-war scenario.

Peacebuilding: A Missing Piece in Russia’s Strategy

Russia’s past interventions, such as those in South Ossetia, eastern Ukraine, and Syria, have been characterized by a focus on short-term gains and power politics. Peacebuilding and participation in Western-led post-conflict peace operations have not been part of Russia’s approach. However, a successful military campaign in Ukraine would force Russia to confront the realities of post-war challenges.

The Changing Nature of Modern Interventions

Armed conflicts in the modern era have become increasingly protracted, with the line between the active phase of conflict and its aftermath becoming blurred. External military interventions often include post-conflict reconstruction and stabilizing efforts. Western interventions, such as the French-led mission in the Sahel, demonstrate the long-term commitment required for successful post-conflict operations.

Russia’s Lack of Experience in Post-War Scenarios

Unlike Western powers, Russia has never encountered an indefinite post-war scenario. This lack of experience and preparation could pose significant challenges for Russia in the aftermath of a successful military campaign in Ukraine. Dealing with security, political, and socio-economic issues will require a different approach than the decisive and brutal military force that has characterized Russia’s interventions thus far.

Implications for Global Security

Russia’s war calculus in Ukraine extends beyond the borders of the country itself. The invasion has raised concerns about global security and the stability of the international order. The deterioration of relations between Russia and the West, coupled with disrupted economic trade and energy exports, creates a volatile environment that could have far-reaching consequences.

The Fragility of Europe’s Energy Security

Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil, particularly Germany’s reliance, exposes the fragility of the continent’s energy security. In the event of a significant disruption in trade and energy exports, Europe would face significant economic challenges. Diversifying energy sources and reducing dependence on Russia become crucial components of Europe’s long-term security strategy.

Ripple Effects on Regional Stability

The conflict in Ukraine has the potential to destabilize the broader region, with implications for neighboring countries such as Poland, Belarus, and the Baltic states. The escalation of tensions and the risk of further Russian aggression could undermine the stability that the region has worked hard to achieve in recent years. This highlights the importance of collective security measures and alliances in safeguarding regional stability.


Understanding Russia’s war calculus and its implications for Ukraine and global security is essential for middle-aged men navigating an increasingly complex world. By examining the historical context, potential scenarios, and the challenges of the post-conflict phase, we gain valuable insights into the dynamics at play. As we continue to monitor the situation, it is crucial to prioritize the stability of the international order and work towards a peaceful resolution that respects the sovereignty of nations. Stay informed, stay engaged, and let us navigate these uncertain times together.


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