1. War in Ukraine: Possible scenarios for its endgame

In February 2022, Russia launched a military invasion against Ukraine.[1] The war continues today. However, recently, there have been Western concerns over Russian advances, both militarily and in its production of weapons and ammunitions, and Ukraine’s dependency on Western aid, ammunitions and weapons. This is despite the US recently committing military aid worth $61bn to Ukraine in April 2024.[2]

Commentators remain uncertain about the war’s conclusion, with outcomes ranging from a protracted conflict to negotiations for a peaceful end to the conflict.

2. War continues

Some commentators have predicted that there could be a protracted conflict in Ukraine in 2024. Although they have warned that this is dependent on Ukraine’s defence, which has been reliant on Western military aid, ammunitions and weaponry.

In an article for the Estonian think tank the International Centre for Defence and Security, published in February 2024, Marek Kohv suggested that the war in Ukraine was unlikely to end in 2024.[3] He outlined several reasons for this conclusion. First, he highlighted the depletion of military resources on both sides after two years of fighting, suggesting that Ukraine and Russia needed time to replenish their resources. Second, he acknowledged that the conflict’s resolution was “not solely a matter of what happens on the battlefield”, pointing to Russia’s stated commitment to its objectives in Ukraine, which had neither been changed nor accomplished. Last, he argued that a near-term change in leadership in Russia, which could possibly end the conflict, seemed “improbable”. Therefore, to enhance Ukraine’s position and lead to a potential 2025 resolution, he called for increased Western military aid and long-term support for Ukraine’s defence industry. Additionally, he emphasised that stricter sanctions towards Russia were needed to “influence Russia’s leadership and strangle its war machine”.

In an interview with Channel 4 in the same month, David Lewis, professor of global politics at the University of Exeter, highlighted that Russia’s territorial gains since the war began had been “rather small given their huge losses—only gaining a further 11 percent or so of Ukrainian territory”.[4] This, he argued, could indicate challenges for Russia in achieving major breakthroughs. However, he anticipated renewed Russian offensives in the spring and summer of 2024. He emphasised that “as long as Ukraine maintains adequate supplies”, it would “still be difficult for the Russian military to make major territorial gains”. Therefore, he acknowledged that a “continuing dynamic deadlock in the land war” was “more likely throughout the year” but also highlighted that there was still a possibility of “a more serious Russian breakthrough”.

However, following the US Congress approving military aid worth $61bn to Ukraine, some commentators have argued that this had ensured that Ukraine could continue fighting in 2024. Speaking to the Associated Press in April 2024, Michael Clarke, a visiting professor in war studies at King’s College London, stated that the military aid “offers Ukraine the prospect of staying in the war this year” and that “sometimes in warfare you’ve just got to stay in it”.[5] Similarly, Matthew Savill, the director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said that the aid could “probably only help stabilise the Ukrainian position for this year” and enable Ukraine to “begin preparations for operations in 2025”.[6]

3. Negotiations for a peaceful end to the conflict

Despite the ongoing conflict, efforts are underway to explore potential pathways towards peace. A peace summit to be hosted by Switzerland in June 2024 aims to establish a framework for ending the conflict in Ukraine.[7] Whilst Russia has not been invited to the summit, both Switzerland and Ukraine have acknowledged its eventual involvement will be required to end the conflict.

Ukrainian officials have recognised the need for negotiation. In an interview with the Economist in May 2024, the deputy chief of Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, Major-General Vadym Skibitsky, stated that “such wars can only end with treaties” and that “right now, both sides are jockeying for ‘the most favourable position’ ahead of potential talks”.[8] However, he said that achieving “meaningful negotiations” was seen as a long-term prospect, potentially “in the second half of 2025 at the earliest”.

The upcoming summit also serves as a potential starting point for broader dialogue. Speaking to Foreign Policy in the same month, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, emphasised that the aim of the summit was “to unite countries who share principles and approaches that they will build further actions on”.[9] He also acknowledged that following the summit, communication with Russia could take place as “you cannot put the war to an end without both parties”.

However, negotiating obstacles remain. Dr Jade Glynn, a research fellow at the Department of War Studies in King’s College London, stated that Ukraine and Russia’s ideas for a peace agreement were “mutually exclusive”.[10] She told Euronews in February 2024 that in an agreement with Russia, Ukraine would insist on its recognised 1991 borders and imposing a “genuine form of deterrence against any future Russian attack”. In contrast, Russia would seek “full control” over Ukrainian territory currently under its occupation, including four regions it claims are rightfully part of Russia. Additionally, she suggested that Russia would demand a “final say on who can be president of Ukraine”, with the only concession being that what would remain of Ukraine “could join the EU”. She concluded that this was “unacceptable to Ukraine”.

4. Russia defeating Ukraine

Several analysts have expressed concern about the possibility of a Ukrainian defeat in 2024.

General Sir Richard Barrons, former head of the UK’s Joint Forces Command, highlighted the risk in an interview with BBC News in April 2024.[11] He stated that there was a “serious risk” that Ukraine would lose the conflict in 2024. He attributed this to possible doubts within Ukraine that it may be victorious, arguing that the country “may come to feel it can’t win” and that “when it gets to that point, why will people want to fight and die any longer, just to defend the indefensible?”. Additionally, he anticipated a major Russian offensive in the summer, aimed at achieving significant territorial gains and potentially advancing through Ukrainian defences. He warned that if that happened, it could lead to Russian forces “breaking through and then exploiting into areas of Ukraine where the Ukrainian armed forces cannot stop them”.

Similar concerns were raised in March 2024 by Ben Barry, a senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a defence and security think tank.[12] Speaking to CNBC, he observed that Russia was “gaining momentum” in its war with Ukraine, which coincided with ongoing concerns over Ukraine’s ammunition and weaponry shortages, in addition to “stalled” military aid arriving from the US. Therefore, he argued that “in a worst-case scenario, parts of Kyiv’s front line could be at risk of collapse”.

5. Ukraine defeating Russia

However, some analysts have predicted that Ukraine can defeat Russia in 2024.

In an article for the Economist in April 2024, Feng Yujun, a professor at Peking University in China, argued for a potential Ukrainian victory.[13] He attributed this to four factors. First, he emphasised the “extraordinary” level of resistance and national unity displayed by Ukrainians. Second, he acknowledged that despite recent international support for Ukraine “falling short” of Ukraine’s expectations, it “remains broad”. Third, Professor Feng pointed to the challenges Russia faced in modern warfare due to it being “yet to recover from the dramatic deindustrialisation it suffered after the disintegration of the Soviet Union”. Last, he highlighted the potential advantage Ukraine holds in terms of access to accurate intelligence. Professor Feng suggested that a more “flexible and effective” Ukrainian intelligence system, compared to Russia’s, could contribute to successful Ukrainian strategies. Combining these factors, Mr Feng concluded that this made Russia’s “eventual defeat inevitable”. He further argued that nuclear capability was “no guarantee of success”, highlighting the example of the US withdrawing from Afghanistan, Korea and Vietnam despite its nuclear weaponry.

6. Read more

Cover image by TheDigitalWay on Pixabay.


  1. Peter Beaumont and Sam Jones, ‘Russia has invaded Ukraine: What we know so far’, Guardian, 24 February 2022. Return to text
  2. Anthony Zurcher et al, ‘Ukraine Russia war: US House passes crucial aid deal worth $61bn’, BBC News, 21 April 2024. Return to text
  3. Marek Kohv, ‘Why the war in Ukraine will not end this year’, International Centre for Defence and Security, 8 February 2024. Return to text
  4. Helen Johnson, ‘How many people have died in the Russia-Ukraine war and what could happen next?’, Channel 4, 23 February 2024. Return to text
  5. Samya Kullab and Jill Lawless, ‘More US aid will help Ukraine avoid defeat in its war with Russia. Winning is another matter’, Associated Press, 24 April 2024. Return to text
  6. Dan Sabbagh, ‘How might new US aid change the war in Ukraine?’, Guardian, 21 April 2024. Return to text
  7. Dave Graham, ‘Ukraine peace summit pushes neutral Swiss toward Western embrace’, Reuters, 10 May 2024. Return to text
  8. Economist (£), ‘A fresh Russian push will test Ukraine severely, says a senior general’, 2 May 2024. Return to text
  9. Foreign Policy (£), ‘One-on-one with Ukraine’s top diplomat, Dmytro Kuleba’, 1 May 2024. Return to text
  10. Giulia Carbonaro, ‘Can the Ukraine war end with a peace deal?’, Euronews, 26 February 2024. Return to text
  11. Frank Gardner, ‘Ukraine could face defeat in 2024. Here’s how that might look’, BBC News, 13 April 2024. Return to text
  12. Holly Ellyatt, ‘A stalemate in the Ukraine war could now be the best-case scenario, analyst says’, CNBC, 2 April 2024. Return to text
  13. Feng Yujun, ‘Russia is sure to lose in Ukraine, reckons a Chinese expert on Russia’, Economist (£), 11 April 2024. Return to text