The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Experts React: Factors Shaping the Russia-Ukraine Conflict in 2023

As Russia and Ukraine head into year two of a war that has defied expectations, a collection of CSIS experts examined driving factors for the future of the conflict. These experts borrow the approach from intelligence analysts, who seek to evaluate the possible trajectories of a conflict rather than make straight-line predictions, bounding reality for policymakers. Emily Harding discusses the life-or-death question of continued outside aid for Ukraine and the resilience of the Ukrainian people. Ben Jensen discusses cohesion in the Russian military and the potential for catastrophic collapse. Heather Williams evaluates the looming nuclear question. Finally, Eliot Cohen examines how a conflict might end.

The success or failure of Kyiv’s war effort hinges on one unfortunate fact: Ukraine does not have the indigenous capacity to arm itself for this fight. Ukrainian president Zelensky knows it and has devoted considerable time and energy to shoring up relationships and corresponding supply lines—for example, leaving Ukraine to visit Washington and Europe. 

The West has responded: despite a slow, hesitant start, marked by hand-wringing over escalation, NATO members have stepped up to provide increasingly effective and potent weapons systems. HIMARS—the light, mobile, precision artillery platforms—are already a hero of the war, and Abrams and Leopard tanks are inbound. Debates over fourth-generation fighter jets and long-range fires are surely right around the corner.

But Zelensky’s work is never done. Russia is working hard to widen any crack in support for Ukraine. Recent Quran-burning protests in Sweden seem to have been bought and paid for by Russian assets, designed to make it impossible for Turkey to support Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. A recent poll by the European Hybrid CoE suggests that segments of the public in key European nations are questioning why Europe is sending so much aid to Ukraine. Those segments are still minorities, but Ukraine is only a year into what most likely will be a very long fight.

Read more at the Center For Strategic & International Studies

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.


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The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.