here are several options for what happens next. From a distance of 10 to 30 kilometers, the Russian artillery can shell the city. Whether the ground troops will also enter the city with previously 3 million inhabitants is still the question. One possible scenario is that Putin uses the encirclement to force Ukraine to make concessions. But if Zelensky does not agree or if Putin wants to occupy the government buildings anyway and have the flag hoisted there, Kiev will be in for a bloody battle.
In this “very worrying scenario”, resistance will be met with brute force. “We have seen in Chechnya and Syria that people’s lives don’t count with Putin.” Osinga does not think that the Russians will be more reserved towards the Ukrainian ‘Slavic brothers’. “The Russians are also deploying cluster weapons here.”
Kiev is the main prize, but not enough
And what are the political consequences? “Putin wants the government to fall in Kiev, but the war could also lead to a split of the country, with Russia taking over the east completely and creating a dependent republic in the west.”
Full occupation of Ukraine is also an option, although Osinga is convinced that the vast country of 150,000 men cannot be effectively occupied and that an occupation could lead to years of bloody guerrillas. “Kiev is the main prize, but it is not guaranteed that if Kiev falls, the battle is over.”
no fly zone
And then the role of NATO. “The arms shipments made so far are important, but not enough. That explains why Zelensky today asked President Biden and NATO for a no-fly zone.” With such a no-fly zone, NATO should guarantee and enforce that no military activities take place in Ukrainian airspace. “That can have a deterrent effect and deprive Russia of the offensive use of its airspace.”
“That no-fly zone must be completed within two or three days, before the major cities are surrounded,” says Osinga. But President Biden has said he has no plans to do it for now and the risks of a no-fly zone are immense. Osinga says a no-fly zone could mean NATO planes take down Russian helicopters and warplanes and disable Russian air defenses in Ukraine. “That means a direct confrontation between NATO and Russian units that could lead to rapid escalation.”