- - Monday, February 6, 2023

For those hoping for a negotiated settlement to end the war in Ukraine, forget it. The conflict that has raged for a year has entered its terminal phase. The Ukrainians have done a gallant job of resisting the initial invasion. Now, however, Moscow has fully mobilized at the precise moment that NATO‘s critical stockpiles of weapons and Ukraine‘s forces are wearing down.

Plus, Russia’s leadership has made it clear that they view this struggle against Ukraine as an existential fight — not only for the survival of the autocratic regime of Vladimir Putin but for the continued existence of Russia as a unified nation-state itself.

NATO only gets more desperate with each moment that passes in Ukraine. In its desperation, the risk of uncontrolled escalation inches nearer — which may involve nuclear weapons. What a switch from just six months ago, when it truly looked like it was Russia that might end up losing and collapsing in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance.

Had the West had real statesmen in charge as opposed to the lot of childlike, ideological lunatics, a negotiated settlement that split Ukraine in half might have been brokered. Time would have been bought for NATO to restore its spent arsenals and for Ukraine to reestablish sensible defensive perimeters around the core of that nation. And Mr. Putin just might have been overthrown for having failed to knock out the U.S.-backed government in Kyiv.

But that window has closed.

Mr. Putin has convinced enough of his fellow countrymen that NATO means to kill not just him but Mother Russia. And America’s utterly asinine “mainstream” media keeps reinforcing that belief with loose talk of overthrowing Mr. Putin’s regime and preparing for the collapse of Russia itself.

With mobilization in full swing in Russia, just as with the massive mobilization that prompted the First World War, there can be no stopping these forces through slow diplomacy anymore. Only victory in the war can stop the conflict.

The likelihood of a Russian victory over Ukraine will have devastating knock-on effects for both the dying postwar European order and American power globally. Should the Russians destroy the Ukrainian government, it will be yet another decisive defeat of U.S. global power. (America’s defeat began in earnest with the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021.)

In Ukraine, the impact of NATO’s defeat will destroy the postwar American order in Europe and break NATO’s back. Humiliated and dejected, the different members of NATO — notably Germany and France — will seek new accommodations with Russia, allowing the alliance to fray. 

The Russians, meanwhile, will find themselves on the border with Poland in Ukraine, chomping at the bit to go for more. With NATO having wasted so many essential weapons systems in Ukraine with few spares available, Russia just might try its luck going after one of the smaller former Soviet states, such as Estonia, whose survivability will be in question with the collapse of NATO. Or Moscow might just consolidate their victory over Ukraine and watch as NATO implodes — which, of course, it will.

Elsewhere, Iran will attempt to push its luck in the Greater Middle East as it thinks the Americans are in full-blown retreat. And regardless of what happens in that domain, with NATO having been thoroughly discredited by Russia in Ukraine, China will strike out against Taiwan.

We are at the start of a protracted global struggle for dominance between the United States, Russia and China, and their allies globally. These are the tragic birth pangs of a new world order that is post-American, multipolar, and radically competitive.

More dangerously, these events might not just herald a prolonged geopolitical crisis for America. It might be the opening phases of a world war — a conflict in which the United States is outnumbered, outmanned and outgunned by fiery Eurasian autocracies seeking to curb what they believe to be a radical, imperialist American power run amok.

No one in Washington is prepared for this reality.

• Brandon J. Weichert is a geopolitical analyst and the author of “Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower “(Republic Book Publishers) and “The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy” (Republic Book Publishers), which is due out March 28. He can be followed on Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

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