Is there any chance for Ukraine to win the war with Russia?

NATO Supreme Commander Wes Clark

Is there any chance for Ukraine to win the war with Russia? Answers former NATO Supreme Commander Wes Clark

Last week Russia's invaded Ukraine sparked international protests and severe sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

USA TODAY Opinion asked Clark this week to view what happens when Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine unfolds. His conversation with editorial board member Austin Boggs has been edited for length and clarity:

'It was tough, but we are still': life in Ukraine as Russian forces attack Kyiv, Kharkiv.

Q: What is Putin's next step after his initial efforts to seize Kyiv seem to have faltered?

A: It will bring more troops. So far, he has used "front detachments" to investigate the Ukrainian defenses and force the government to surrender did not work. Now he directs his main force forward with the Belarusian troops. He will likely intensify his air activity and use heavy artillery strikes.

Q: How will the war end? Is there still a possibility of a diplomatic solution?

A: A diplomatic solution is unlikely. It could end with the invasion of Kyiv and the Ukrainian government-in-exile. Or it may end with a Russian withdrawal to face another operation. Or it could end with a demand from the West and the United Nations that Putin cannot ignore due to sanctions and international pressure.

Q: What does activating the nuclear deterrent issued by Putin on Sunday mean in practice?

A: This was a way to pressure Ukraine in possible negotiations and a warning to the West not to interfere.

Q: Is there a chance for the Ukrainians to win? What would this look like?

A: The Ukrainians can win if warm, humid weather and poor Russian logistics paralyze Russian power and have the means to attack and destroy that power. Ukraine could also win if the West and international efforts force Putin to withdraw.

Q: What are the chances of an escalation of the conflict?

A: If Putin wins here, he will pursue his following goals, Georgia and the Baltic states. This will lead to escalation. At some point, if the fighting in Kyiv intensifies, the United States may have to intervene even if it risks escalation.

Q: Will the sanctions that have been issued be effective in stopping Putin?

A: Sanctions might stop Putin eventually, but maybe not immediately.

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