Leaked document outlines 4 ‘wild card’ scenarios in the Russian-Ukrainian war
A secret intelligence document obtained by The New York Times that was among those leaked onto the internet this year provides insight into contingency planning a year after the war in Ukraine began.
The Defense Intelligence Agency analysis outlines four “wild card” scenarios and how they could affect the course of the conflict in Ukraine. What-if scenarios include the death of Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the removal of leaders of the Russian Armed Forces, and a Ukrainian strike on the Kremlin.
The document indicates that the war will most likely remain protracted. But he describes how each “wild card” scenario could potentially lead to an escalation in Ukraine, a negotiated end to the conflict, or have no substantial effect on the trajectory of the war.
The scenario document is a fairly typical product created by intelligence agencies. It is designed to help military officers, policymakers, or legislators think about the possible outcomes of major events when weighing their options.
The document is marked “RELIDO”, indicating that the decision to release the information – to foreign partners, for example – rests with certain senior officials. It is dated February 24 and is marked “ONE YEAR”, suggesting that the analysis was carried out a year after the start of the large-scale invasion.
One of four hypothetical scenarios shows what could happen if Ukraine hits the Kremlin. A wide range of potential implications are identified. The event could lead to an escalation, with Mr Putin responding to public outcry by launching a full-scale military mobilization and considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Or, public fears could lead him to negotiate a settlement of the war.
The Biden administration has been particularly concerned about a possible strike on Moscow by Ukraine, as it could cause a drastic escalation from Russia. The dangers of such an attack by Ukraine is one reason the United States has been reluctant to supply longer-range missiles to kyiv.
Some intelligence agency analyzes provide assessments of the most likely outcome of a certain event, but the wild card document does not. It describes various possible scenarios without assessing which might be most likely.
US officials declined to say whether the document was authentic, but they did not dispute its authenticity. The document is similar to other products by the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff that officials have acknowledged are real.
US officials also warned that the leaked documents were dated and, in many cases, did not represent current assessments by various intelligence agencies.
A second top-secret document obtained by The Times includes details of Russian fuel price negotiations in Africa.
According to the document dated February 17, the Malian authorities were then dissatisfied with the price of fuel and were continuing negotiations with the Russian Ministry of Energy and representatives of Africa Politology, an entity linked to the private military company Wagner.
This apparent price decline comes at a time when the African fuel market has become increasingly important to Russia as a price cap imposed by the West and the European Union ban on imports of Russian refined petroleum products continue to reduce disposable income streams.