Bryan Caplan  

Ukrainian Prediction Challenge

What Say You? The Intuitive Ca... Reminiscences of Rogge...
To repeat myself:
The long-run benefits of war are highly uncertain.  Some wars - most obviously the Napoleonic Wars and World War II - at least arguably deserve credit for decades of subsequent peace.  But many other wars - like the French Revolution and World War I - just sowed the seeds for new and greater horrors.  You could say, "Fine, let's only fight wars with big long-run benefits."  In practice, however, it's very difficult to predict a war's long-run consequences.  One of the great lessons of Tetlock's Expert Political Judgment is that foreign policy experts are much more certain of their predictions than they have any right to be.
Challenge: In the comments, go on the record and predict what will actually come of the emerging Ukrainian-Russian conflict.  Only unconditional, falsifiable predictions count.  No claims like: "Unless the EU acts..." "If Russia comes to its senses..." or "This will be a very different world."  Make specific claims about what will actually happen by a specific date.

In a year I'll revisit your comments and rank their accuracy with the benefit of hindsight.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (50 to date)
Chris Hallquist writes:

The death toll this year will be under 500 deaths.

Richard Besserer writes:

Crimea and eastern Ukraine will be under occupation by Russian troops, de facto annexed by the Russian Federation. Western intervention in East Ukraine will be limited to sanctions against Russia and financial aid to western Ukraine.

Putin will stop short of actually trying to reclaim the whole of Ukraine for a restored Russian empire (he did not try anything of the kind in Georgia) or removing the new government of West Ukraine by force. Yanukovich will not return to power in Kiev in the foreseeable future, though he may be restored as leader of an East Ukrainian puppet state established by Moscow.

David Friedman writes:

My guess is that Russia will annex the Crimea, possibly through some sequence of stages that let them claim that Crimea asked to join Russia. The U.S. and E.U. will make loud noises but not do anything substantial.

I'm less sure whether Russia will try to grab eastern Ukraine, or if so whether that might lead to an actual military conflict. My guess is that Putin is not that adventurous—that getting the Crimea will adequately boost his standing with his own population. But I may be being optimistic.

Peter H writes:

Ok, falsifiable predictions, in order of confidence:

1.) Russia and the United States will not engage in open warfare.

2.) Russia will not attempt to militarily conquer all of Ukraine.

3.) Crimea will be either formally annexed to Russia, or be an "independent" state which is essentially fully controlled by Russia. That is, it will be under neither the de facto nor de jure control of Kiev.

4.) Russia will be removed from the G8 (making it the G7 again).

5.) The United States and European Union will impose some form of economic sanctions on Russia.

J writes:

March 1 2015

1. Eastern Ukraine incl. Crimea is a semi-autonomous political entity closely joined to Russia. Its official language is Russian.

2. Western Ukraine has achieved semi-autonomous status. NATO and the USA are guaranteeing its independence. Its official language is Ukrainian.

3. Ukraine bonds have been renegotiated and haircutted. The devalued hryvia currency has been exchanged for the new hryvia worth much less than the original.

4. There had been no bloody pogroms, yet 15,000 Ukrainian Jews (incl. mixed families) have emigrated to Israel and the West (Germany and the US).

5. The supply of gas to Europe has not been interrupted even for a week.

Brian writes:

Ukraine will not join the EU.

Russia will not invade Ukraine.

Ukraine will have a popularly elected president again at some point in the next year.

Ukraine will still have a popularly elected president on year from now.

Neither the Russian nor Ukrainian government will declare war.

Russia will continue to control its ports in the Crimea.

Ukrainian government officials will continue to make billions in bribes on Russian fossil fuel imports.

Randy writes:

The Crimea has already been effectively annexed by Russia. This is a good thing because it is mostly a case of self determination, and because without the Crimea the rest of Ukraine is more likely to join the EU. My predictions;

By the end of this year, the Russians will have made their point that all of Ukraine can and will be annexed if the new government takes a belligerently anti-Russian stance. The EU and the Americans will issue many sternly worded memos and hold many diplomatic meetings, but there will be no sanctions of any kind, because it makes sense for the Crimea to belong to Russia, and because a win is still possible by bringing the rest of Ukraine into the western orbit.

By the end of next year, talks will begin to bring what remains of Ukraine into the EU, while some of the eastern republics will begin separate talks to join Russia.

By the end of five years the talks will successfully conclude with the western provinces of Ukraine as members of the EU, the Crimea as part of Russia, and possibly two or three of the eastern republics as part of Russia as well.

All in all, a win for the west, though perhaps only temporary. Russia never quits.

JL Ricon writes:

Crimea secedes and joins Russia, war ends.

Alexei Sadeski writes:

Death toll after today under 100.

Grant Gould writes:

High-confidence predictions:

Russia will de facto annex Crimea. They will not make the annexation official, but everyone will know the score.

Russia will pursue its proven Georgian strategy with Eastern Ukraine by issuing Russian passports to Russian-speakers in that region. This will create an ongoing threat of invasion to "protect Russian nationals." However they will not make good that threat for at least three years.

In any case Russia will make no attempt to seize any part of Ukraine west of the Dneiper river, nor will Russian troops enter Kiev, for at least the next eight years.

Lower-confidence predictions:

Threats will be forthcoming from the EU, NATO, and the G8. However no substantial sanctions or retaliation against Russia will be forthcoming. To be concrete, in the next two years: Russia will not be expelled from the G8; there will be no further eastward NATO expansion; EU sanctions will be restricted to a small number of individuals and companies and will not impact substantial areas of Russian economic interests.

Ukraine will default on its government debt within the next decade, even with IMF assistance.

Specific non-predictions:

The probability of formal EU accession talks to admit Ukraine is low but cannot be discounted. The probability of an eventual EU membership for Ukraine is very low but cannot be discounted.

Mico writes:

1. Russia has invaded Crimea and will not be removed from it. Crimea will either be annexed to Russia or become a client state of Russia. A lot of Ukrainians and Tartars will end up dead, in prison, or as refugees.

2. Russia may or may not also invade the other Eastern states, which voted for Yanukovych. Doing this depends on their supporters in these states seizing sufficient de-facto control that their invasion could proceed more or less peacefully, as their invasion of Crimea has done.

3. The government of Ukraine will not attack Russian troops without promises of support from the US and UK, which issued statements pledging to uphold Ukraine's territorial integrity in 1994.

4. The EU lacks the ability, and the US lacks the will, to oppose any of these actions. There will be no military consequences for Russia and diplomatic consequences are likely to be weak. A hundred years later the Scrap of Paper is just that.

5. Despite this, Russia will not invade the Central and Western states. They invasions would be opposed. They would be bloody, bring strong pressure to bear on the EU and US to intervene, and if successful would only win rebellious provinces which would have to be permanently suppressed by military force.

6. The Western part of Ukraine, shorn of much of the Russian-speaking population, will follow Romania and Bulgaria into the EU.

John Smith writes:

The Crimea will come under de facto Russian control, said control specifically including military occupation by Russian troops and the government in Crimea no longer obeying orders from Ukraine.

Said de facto control will not be formalised by having Crimea become part of Russia.

Alex writes:

Zero battlefield deaths as a result of fighting between Russian troops and troops from any NATO country. (no war)

The de facto borders of the Ukraine remain unchanged for the next 5 years. (Russia does not annex anything)

Roger Sweeny writes:

What Brian said at 2:16 this morning. Adding that Crimea will increasingly go its own way, Quebec on steroids. Russia will not annex Crimea, though there will be statements of friendship, and the government of Crimea will pretty much do what the Russian government wants.

Chops writes:

- Crimea, already an "Autonomous Republic", will not change its legal status relative, but it will be effectively ruled by Russia instead of Ukraine.

- Russia will not send uniformed troops (marked or unmarked) to Kharkiv or Donetsk for at least the next 30 days, and probably not thereafter.

- At least two pro-Russian militias will form among reservists in S.E. Ukraine, causing headaches for Kiev.

- The N.W. government in Kiev will offer major political concessions to Russia in exchange for formal recognition. This will occur between May and December 2014.

- At least 5 times as many civilians will be killed by informal militants and mobs than by formal military units.

- Ukraine will be allowed to default on at least 30% of its external debt without major penalties from the West. (My guess is more like a 70% default). Defaults will begin in 2014 but may occur through 2016.

I'll add a domestic prediction:

Ukraine will be referenced more often than Syria or Egypt in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Hansjörg Walther writes:

My prediction is very similar to David Friedman's:

- Russia will secure control of the Crimea (or already has).
- There are protests from Western governments, but nothing serious.
- Then a deal is brokered to let people in the Crimea vote on staying within Ukraine or joining Russia, which is easy to sell as self-determination.
- And the probable outcome would be that the Crimea accedes to Russia.

Putin will not try to gobble up Eastern Ukraine or even Ukraine as a whole. That would be a precedent where Western governments would get nervous (although even in this case my guess is that it would be just talk, but a higher risk something goes wrong).

And then there is no clear-cut line where to cut up Ukraine. For the Crimea there are rather recent borders you can refer to. With many people in Ukraine who are favorable to Russia, Putin has much more leverage than otherwise. And he would have a chance to influence Ukrainian politics again. With a split, he would create a second Poland that is headed for the EU and hostile to Russia.

John Thacker writes:

Other countries with possible territorial concerns will be less likely to rely on international or US guarantees, and more likely to maintain or expand their own armament to protect themselves from neighbors rather than giving up nuclear or non-nuclear weapons (as Ukraine gave up nuclear weapons in exchange for guarantees.) This applies equally to US allies like Israel, Japan, and Taiwan as to Iran and North Korea.

This will be seen as a tragedy by the US foreign policy establishment, but welcomed by non-interventionists and isolationists.

John Thacker writes:

Of course, that's not a falsifiable prediction, so I'll say:

  • Japan will ratify laws to alter Article 9 of its Constitution, allowing for more aggressive military action than currently.

Yancey Ward writes:

I predict there will no open and armed conflict between either Russia and Nato, or Russia and Ukraine. Russia will firmly establish control over Crimea, and the other eastern and southern portions of Ukraine with Russian-speaking majorities will declare themselves a separate country. Ukraine will be split in two, and that is probably for the best.

Marcos Portillo writes:

There will be a referendum in Crimea calling for independence/secession and will either be annexed by Russia or some minor form of annexation (i.e. puppet state).

The West will apply a lot of rhetoric but their resistance will end at that. A lot of gas flows into Europe from Russia via Ukraine and, frankly, I don't think Europe can afford to do much of anything and neither can the U.S..

[I can see a possible under the table deal happen between Russia and the U.S.. There will be lots of rhetoric, but the US will allow Russia to do what it wants with the Ukraine (within reason), if they back off a bit from Assad/Syria and Iran.]

I think any type of Russian military excursion into the mainland Ukraine will be very minimal (other than possible covert special forces). Perhaps if an incident occurs in a western city between pro-Russian supporters and opposition government. But Russia will maintain its distance from mainland Ukraine and instead apply economic pressure to bend it to its will.

Russia will publicly encourage IMF to get involved in loaning money to the Ukraine, while at the same time they will no longer provide favored natural gas deals to the Ukraine thereby increasing the price.

Elections will be held and an opposition candidate will win.

However, the conditions set by the IMF will prove too much for the Ukraine in addition to the increased natural gas prices, which will cause public unrest and place a lot of pressure on the new government. In which case, they will finally go to the only source they have left for their financing, which will be Russia (playing right into the hands of Putin), who will provide the loans as well as discounted natural gas. And in return, they stop complaining about the loss of Crimea and will return slightly back under the Russian sphere of influence. Some normalcy will return since the end of Yanokuvych regime and its corruption as well as the appearance of having the opposition/Ukrainian government in place.

LTPhillips writes:

Crimea is granted autonomous status within the Russian Federation and is governed by a Russian for the benefit of Russia. Ukraine's economy weakens, in part because of Russian actions to destabilize it, and is ultimately 'rescued' by a Russian aid package. (When all is said and done, Europe and the United States will be unwilling to spend the money required to revitalize Ukraine's economy, especially as much of it would be wasted or siphoned off by graft.) Ukraine remains an independent state, but will, inevitably, be more closely drawn into Russia's orbit.

Kevin Jaeger writes:

The Crimea will remain under Russian control and be confirmed by a referendum within the next year. The Ukrainian military will withdraw from Crimea peacefully.

Western institutions such as the EU and IMF will offer a staggering number of billions to Ukraine in an effort stabilize the economy and bring them into western orbit. The billions of western aid will disappear in corruption and looting and Ukraine will still default (though this may take longer than one year, the end result will be obvious within one year).

Alice Temnick writes:

Putin will back off by March 7. The G8 countries will meet and play nicely in Sochi as originally planned.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

Datelines for these kinds of predictions require the use of ranges of timelines rather than specific dates.

1. In the period from June 2014 through June 2015 the Russian economy and demographics will continue to deteriorate and external (EU, North African and Middle Eastern) economic conditions will not sustain Russia's commodity export dependence.

2. During that same period a "standstill" condition will develop in the Ukraine specifically in the Crimea and Eastern regions as the "pride" value (rather than military purpose) of the Black Sea fleet is reassessed, and some drawdown of Russian military presence will occur.

3. The southern tier states, Kazakh in particular, will come under pressure for the maintenance of unification of the Ukraine in order to continue to participate as a commodity export economy, important to its exploitative ruling class.

4. Beginning in fall of 2015 there will be a movement for an informal or trade area "union" of the Southern tier states with the Ukraine that will prevent an actual separation of the Eastern region from the Kiev government..

5. The previous exploitative power group of which Yanukovich was titular head has recognized that partition of the East will not yield an adequate economic base for a Ukrainian exploitative ruling class. A much larger economic unit is required to support the previous kind of exploitative political class. Thus, there will not be sufficient pressures internally for the creation of the "rump" state that cannot support a dominant political class, except as a satrapy to the central Russian government which will be dealing with increasing economic problems of its own, during that same time.

6. In the interim, beginning in June 2014, there are likely to be extensive shifts in control of the administration of the bureaucracies in the Eastern region, but not a change in the nominal sovereignty of the Kiev government over that region. Those changes in administration will probably be complete by June 2015, if not before.

7. In Russia, by the end of June 2015, the current programs dependent upon the diversion of Russian "pride" will be running out of steam and encountering renewed dissatisfaction with the continuing corruption, suppressions and economic stagnation. The existing programs in Russia, as well as their administration and the regional administrations will commence encountering what has been historic resistance without hostility.

8. Commencing around 2020 Russian regional administration will begin to fragment and the effectiveness of centralized control will deteriorate. The support for "nationalism" will have evaporated and by that time Ukraine will have recovered its productive abilities – unless a new and ruthless exploitative class is able to establish itself, possibly with the help of the exploitative ruling classes of the other southern tier states.

p writes:

Some ukrainian military bureaus will revoke military cooperation with russian companies (they have been working together since the fall of USSR); the others will be absorbed by Russia.

dangerman writes:

In exactly one year from this day, both Russian and Ukraine will have higher GDPs per capita.

War doesn't matter as much as it used to.

Violence in Ukraine escalates. Putin unleashes "secret weapon." Secret weapon triggers ultra-virulent zombie plague. 95% of Earth's population is zombified by March, 2015.

Brandon writes:

I see Putin giving back Crimea in due time (within the year). Moscow just wants to ensure that Ukraine gets no closer to the West.

The Russians are merely looking after their interests in Crimea. It’s a heavy-handed way of doing so, but in that part of the world it’s pretty much the only way to get things done (unfortunately).

I base my prediction on the fact that President Putin requested the Duma's authorization to go to war if necessary. This is pretty much akin to President Obama's tactic of turning over the "Syrian question" to Congress during that crisis.

Both executive offices of these countries have the full power to wage war when and where they want, so the fact that these men chose to seek the advice of their parliaments means that they are not serious about a confrontation.

Another unfortunate outcome will be the fact that Ukraine remains one country instead of breaking up into two (or three, or four!) states.

Thomas Sewell writes:

Whatever Putin decides will happen in the region will occur.

Whatever Obama or Kerry threaten will have no significant effect on the outcome.

Curtis Ray Campbell writes:

Russia builds a Death Star by July 4, 2014. USA's best fighter pilot named Luke has to destroy it by December 6th 2014.

Methinks writes:

I agree with Thomas Sowell. It's Putin's show.

Like a good Czar, Putin is there.

Capt. J Parker writes:

On or before March 2, 2015:
1)Russia will install a puppet government in Crimea and hence Russia will be in de facto control of Crimea.
2)Ukraine will do a major currency devaluation.
3)EU will not impose economic sanctions on Russia
4)US will impose sanctions.

Insight writes:

Cove Point LNG exports approved

Chris (from MN) writes:

Elephant in the room is that this is /exactly/ the same pretense used for a land-grab in 1938, including talk of "self-determination." There are a lot more similarities to 1938 and Hitler to Putin (charismatic leader of a crest-fallen and bedraggled country once a great power who returns the nation to glory), but I don't think that provides much predictive power, since Putin's domestic support is much less consolidated than Hitler's was (the German people were /enamored/ by Hitler, while Russians are merely fond of Putin though there exist real protest movements in Moscow that would've been unheard of in the Cold War or Nazi Germany) and the West is far more powerful than they were in 1938 (NATO has consolidated gains since end of Cold War, plus Ukraine has a significant army and 1 million reservists... more powerful than Czechoslovakia was). It's mostly just interesting and chilling to see the comparison (refresher for how similar it really feels, with all sorts of appeals of self-determination of the Sudetenland, etc: ). Russia wants to control all of Ukraine, but it's increasingly unlikely to happen (although I give a 5% chance of a Russian march on Kiev within 2 years!).

It's also worth noting that while Russia provides 1/3 of Europe's oil and gas imports, Oil and gas make up the majority of the Russian government's funding (which is already deeply in deficit with high inflation), and Russia has no warm-water ports that NATO can't easily control. It's also now nearly spring, which would definitely help Europe weather any interruption. Russia is now a petrostate, essentially, and their ability to operate as an economy can be hampered without NATO firing a shot (although if it got that bad, I'd be very surprised if there weren't shots fired).

"Oil and gas revenues accounted for 52% of [Russian] federal budget revenues and over 70% of total exports in 2012, according to PFC Energy."

Turkey has an abiding ethnic interest in Crimea. Crimean Tatars once made up the vast, vast majority of the population on the peninsula until especially in WW2 when Stalin kicked most of them out, many of whom fled to Turkey (though they have been returning).

If Crimea is still occupied by Russia (most likely), I predict most likely (60%) some Tatar anti-Russian activity on the peninsula in a year (though probably on a very small scale). (this is contingent, but contingent on something I think will happen anyway... still, that means less than a 50% chance of this actually happening)

I say a 60% chance that Crimea is outside of Ukraine's control in a year, still occupied by Russian troops.

Capn Parker: It should be noted that Russia /already/ installed a puppet government in Crimea before the invasion even happened, so your prediction shouldn't count (it just counts as ignorance of the current situation, I suppose). On February 27th, a pro-Russian-annexation puppet PM of Crimea was installed. Note that pre-invasion, only 41% of Crimeans supported Russian annexation, in spite of the majority of the peninsula being ethnic Russian.

I've heard some paranoid talk of somehow the US being "taken down" by some secret alliance of China and Russia and some ships from Iran. That's laughable. If we're talking about non-nuclear weapons, that's simply not possible.

The US is surrounded by oceans and allies and has at least ten times the deep sea firepower and ability to deploy force anywhere in the world as the next most powerful enemy. This isn't an exaggeration: 10 nuclear supercarrier carrier strike groups with each carrying more aircraft than Russia's sole carrier, plus 9 amphibious assault groups which consist of basically helicopter carriers and support ships... plus the US has far more operational experience with this sort of force projection and deep water operations than any of its potential foes (especially China, which is only now /beginning/ to have any inkling of how to operate aircraft from a carrier), including friendly ports and bases all over the world. The US hegemony is safe. Both Russia and China are still surrounded by their rivals (and don't harbor much love for each other, either), and both Russia and China depend absolutely on the rest of the world for importing their energy and goods (respectively) to keep their economies from collapsing. It's in no one's interest to start another world war, and certainly Russia and China aren't equipped for such (unless we're just talking about an insane nuclear exchange).

This doesn't mean the US can assert its will without cost against a dug-in enemy with a homefield advantage, but it does mean that for now, the US is unrivaled in its ability to project force globally and will remain so for the foreseeable future (regionally is another story... the US in a conventional ground war in Asia could probably be easily matched by Russia or China, but the US doesn't have any territory at all in Asia, so this is no existential threat to the US).

BC writes:

It's interesting how many people predict that Putin will suffer very little consequence from having invaded Crimea. Whether or not that turns out to be the case, the fact that most commentators, and one assumes Putin, don't *believe* that the outcome of his invasion is that uncertain shows how the West has already failed.

Putting a different spin on Brian's principle, if war should only be undertaken when the long run benefits are clear, then to deter war the West needed to create sufficient uncertainty in Putin's mind about the consequences of invading Crimea. If one is *too* rational/reasonable, then one's adversaries will feel confident in predicting one's reaction to aggression, all the more so when such adversaries "are much more certain of their predictions than they have any right to be" as Brian asserts they will be. In short, being a *little* bit crazy can cause one's adversaries to think twice about invading.

Reflexive anti-interventionism has taken hold in the West in recent years. The evidence ranges from isolationist rhetoric, to Obama's Lead-from-Behind foreign policy doctrine, to the West's failure to hold Syria accountable for crossing supposed "bright red lines". If commentators' predictions are in any way representative of Putin's assessments, such anti-interventionism may have caused Putin to become over-confident (or appropriately confident) in invading Crimea.

So, while the uncertainty of war might counsel one to avoid interventionism, being a credible interventionist may be necessary to raise the uncertainty of war in the minds of ones adversaries.

Ricky writes:

I will say that nothing happens without causality. Therefore different actions will breed different results.

If The Russians invade Ukraine there will be a lot of dead people. I predict something similar to Tienanmen Square.

If the US supports Ukraine, It depends in which fashion. If we give support through money and supplies, there will be even more dead people AND Russia will still win.

If the US puts troops on the ground, I foresee a massive war between Russia and the EU. This would be even worse than before.

However, if Russia does not invade, I see Ukraine settling their own score and I'd put their revolution under 500 casualties.

With that said, I doubt they will go to the EU without Russia putting serious pressure on them.

To clear it up, I don't see it ending well so long as Russia isn't willing to let them go freely.

What do I get after I win?

Ethan writes:

There will be no extension of Russian control beyond the influence it already has in Crimea.

Fewer than 100 people will die in protests or political violence.

There will be an elected president who favors closer connections with the EU and does not get on well with Putin.

Over the next year The Economist will have between 20 and 30 articles about Ukraine, and will do one briefing on it.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Not widely reported, there really has been anti-Russian action in the Ukraine: "On February 23, 2014, following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the law on languages of minorities, including Russian, was abolished, making Ukrainian the sole state language at all levels."

The language law that was repealed gave "Russian or any other minority language the status of a "regional language"; approving its use in courts, schools and other government institutions in areas of Ukraine where the percentage of representatives of national minorities exceeds 10% of the total population of a defined administrative district"

[I don't support military action from the country of Russian, but at the same time there may be real reasons why Russian speakers in the Ukraine might be concerned about the new government.]

John Becker writes:

I'm just going to be optimistic here.

1. The U.S. for all it's bluster does not want to worsen relations with Russia and will not impose sanctions regardless of whatever sanctimonious words Obama uses.

2. Russian forces will withdraw from Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula although they will keep their naval base there.

3. The national borders of Ukraine will remain unchanged.

Jeff writes:

1) There is no direct military battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
2) Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine on March 30.
3) Crimea becomes a technically independent country, that is effectively an autonomous region of Russia like Abkhazia.
4) Russia maintains its Black Sea fleet indefinitely, and eventually obtains a lease in perpetuity (before 2018).
5) Russia is not kicked out of the G-8.
6) Beginning April 1, Russia no longer gives a gas discount to Ukraine.
7) No economic sanctions are imposed on Russia.
8) (Least certain) Russia does not send forces into other Eastern Ukrainian provinces.
9) (most wish-washy) Eastern Ukrainian provinces are granted significant autonomy, Russian is restored as official language in these provinces.

Finch writes:

Regardless of their more diverse opinions about EU and American prospects, it looks like Econlog commenters are extraordinarily confident that Russia made the right move in invading Ukraine. The median commenter seems to believe Russia gets the Crimea with little or no consequence.

So that's an interesting test of Bryan's thesis. It's also somewhat surprising given the normal attitude of Econlog commenters. Doesn't anyone think there's still some risk here?

Jeff writes:

Follow up to my previous predictions:
10) NATO does not send in forces to the Ukraine.
11) Ukraine holds elections in 2014, legitimizing interim government.
12) EU and IMF bailout Ukraine preventing a true default, but Ukraine's debt is restructured lowering interest rates and extending repayment period.

jeppen writes:

Ukraine will come to a settlement to essentially sell Crimea and two other provinces to Russia in exchange for low-priced natural gas for 30 years. But the main benefit for Ukraine is that it will get rid of much of the Russian-speaking population and thus be able to enjoy political stability and closer ties to the EU.

Mark Bahner writes:

On one hand, I know virtually nothing about the situation in the Ukraine. In fact, I haven't even read the other predictions yet. On the other hand, knowing virtually nothing about subjects hasn't kept me from making predictions in the past. prediction is that one or more parts of the Ukraine will split/be split from the other parts within the next two years.

Mark Bahner writes:

D-oh! I missed the part of evaluating in one year. So I'll bump up my split time to within the next 1 year. (But if the split comes in greater than 1, but less than 2 years, I'll come back and complain that my prediction was actually correct.)

Hazel Meade writes:

1. The Crimea secedes and joins Russia.
2. Ukraine becomes a NATO and EU member within 10 years.

Noah Siegel writes:

An independent Crimean government will be recognized by Russia but not the United States or the EU.

The Ukrainian government will have no practical authority over Crimea, but the United States and the EU will recognize Ukraine's claim over Crimea.

Aaron writes:

In an effort to placate the ultimately toothless, but stern lectures of NATO (most fiercely led by Poland, and reluctantly followed by the non-Eastern European members) the Crimea region will host elections (at Russia's behest) to determine a new prime minister of Crimea to replace the widely unpopular puppet Sergey Aksynonov. The elections will initially be scheduled for the June to July timeframe, but will eventually be pushed back to August/September.

The Russians know that a future with Sergey Aksynonov is a non-starter, since his rise to power is entirely illegitimate, so they will look for a different puppet that has wider appeal. Most likely a retired official whose name everyone will recognize, but with a record that isn't polarizing. He will be an ethnic Tartar in order to appeal to the ethnic group that poses the biggest risk. Sergey Aksynonov, the Russian puppet and a handful of other "also-rans" will enter the race. The Russians will rig the election, giving Sergey 18-24% of the vote (to help legitimize him as their choice in the first place), their new chosen puppet will get 45-55% of the vote (just enough to make it feel legitimate, but not enough to show blatant vote rigging) and the other guys will divvy up the remaining. The Russians will pretend that they actually wanted Sergey to win, but will have backed the other guy the whole time. Among the "also-rans" will be one particularly likable chap who did way better than predicted, despite all odds. A small public interest kerfuffle will be made about him to divert attention away from the sham of an election.

Non-Russian Ukrainians will boycott the election claiming it is a fraud, and begin to move west en-masse. Ukraine proper will mobilize it's military and call up the reserves, but ultimately major conflict will be avoided. By March of 2015 it will be fairly clear that Ukraine is going to be split into Ukraine and Crimea, with Europe holding predominant sway in Ukraine, and Russia in Crimea.

J writes:

I regard Mr Chris (of MN)'s elephant not as an elephant but as a mammuth. Nationalist sentiments in Ukraine are very strong and although they have been repressed by Stalin, they are reborn and flourishing again. In our "Back to Blood" era, the dissolution of Ukraine is previsible (100% probabilities). Ukrainians want to join the West, while Russian nationals under Ukrainian rule hate having to learn the Ukrainian dialect and feel oppressed. Given a chance they will join the mother country. BTW, the ten (or eleven?) American battle groups cannot influence Ukraine, an almost landlocked country.

David Tufte writes:

1) Crimea will still officially be part of Ukraine, but will still be occupied and effectively part of Russia.
2) Eastern Ukraine will still officially be part of Ukraine, but will not have been entered by Russian troops.
3) Visa and financial restrictions on Russians will be in force in the U.S. They will not have been imposed at all in western Europe.
4) Ukraine will have the same government it does today.
5) Import prices for gas and oil from Russia will be closer to equal between Ukraine and (say) Germany.
6) The IMF will have introduced a second aid package for Ukraine because the package under consideration now will not have worked well enough.
7) Official death toll will remain under 200.
8) Unofficial death toll will go above 1,000.

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