What will the map of Ukraine look like once the war ends?

The discussions of what comes next after the Donbas defeat of Ukraine is starting, as the end of that part of the Ukraine crisis comes into sight.  There is still a lot of fighting to do and cities to capture but as Kissinger said a week or so ago, there might only be two more months of the initial battle to go.

What comes next?

The problem with any peace discussions is the tendency of Ukraine to shell civilian areas.  The Ukrainian commander who defected to the Russians with his wife – filmed by Patrick Lancaster yesterday – shows there is extensive shelling of civilian areas in Kherson, just as there is in Donetsk, as well as arms being planted there for terror attacks.  Once the main battle areas go quiet, there is plenty of potential for disruption and continued shelling onto civilian populations.

The Russians might attempt a negotiation to see if they can end the conflict once Donbas is secured, but it seems with the attitude of the USA and NATO that such a truce would not last long.

Where should Russia head next?

Reaching for the map of West Ukraine,  you can visualise that there would be opportunities to redefine the borders of many countries, without them losing any territory, if Russia were to have a second attempt at finding a way to maintain a final peace.

If for example the northern tip of the current Slovakia/Ukraine border became the tip of a Slovakia/Russia border, which ran eastwards, this would give not only Slovakia direct access to Russia, but also Hungary, and Moldova.  That, combined with Russian taking over the South of Ukraine around Odessa would greatly reduce NATO threats via any of these and Romania.

Above the line could be Ukraine of the future and Kiev could be a City on the Russian border, and the Dnieper providing a border running north to south.

The next map shows the Dniester river, which might provide a Russia/Ukraine border towards Transdniestria in the west, but a line to the Dnieper from further north than Transdniestria would make more sense.

A land link between Russia and Hungary would please Serbia, and make the Balkans more manageable.

Such considerations could be worked towards step by step by Russia.