Russia has already taken an area of land that by rule of thumb approximates the size of nations Hungary and Slovakia combined. It will take more, perhaps much more before the fighting ends. No matter what agreement is negotiated with what remains of the Ukrainian political hierarchy (or the political hierarchy of the USA if Ukraine no longer has one) Russia will not give up any of the land it has taken where Russian-speakers form the majority.
No matter what the Ukrainians or Americans want in exchange for making Ukraine permanently neutral, with no standing army other than some ceremonial facade of an army and measures to deal with the ultranationalist extremists in Ukraine, Russia will not retreat from the Russian-speaking populations they have liberated, to use their expression. There cannot conceivably be the trust required between Russia and Ukraine/US for that to happen.
The above is almost certainly going to be the demand of whoever is doing the negotiating on the western side. However, the Russian authorities remember the assurances given to Gorbachev in the late eighties, that NATO would not move an inch eastward if Russia erected no barriers to letting East Germany unite with West. Why would the Russians leave, letting the present Ukrainian authorities back into the lands they had taken when in five years or ten when these territories were fully back under their control, and risking that the Ukrainians simply say they have changed their minds and join NATO? They won’t risk that.
Therefore, Russia will keep the land they have won at the expense of much blood and treasure, at least all the land where the Russian-speaking population are in the majority. That is my first prediction.
Will the financial and military assistance to Ukraine continue after Russia at some point presumably says, thus far and no more, we have satisfied our aims regarding the taking of territory (and I predict this will be after Russia has taken all the land right up to the Dnieper River and has taken also taken Odessa and connected to the breakaway republic of Transnistria.) On the issue of financial assistance to what is left of Ukraine it seems clear to me that the USA, UK and EU will provide almost 100% of Ukraine’s financial needs for the foreseeable future. Already now they pay for all state salaries and without doubt much, much more.
Regarding the collective west continuing to provide military assistance to what’s left of Ukraine I see this as being subject to whatever agreement is finally come to with Russia. Russia of course will hold all the high cards in the negotiations which follow the present hostilities. Bear in mind that one of the limited number of goals Russia set for itself at the outset was the demilitarisation of Ukraine. Russia will have just won on the battlefield, it will hold and continue to hold most if not all the territory won and it will certainly be calling the shots. Will Ukraine have the temerity, tenacity and capability to fight on? I doubt it.
Ukraine will, without doubt, mount a guerrilla war against Russia, not officially but certainly unofficially. The ultranationalist extremists will find ways to enter the territories Russia has taken in the east and there will be plenty of members and new recruits among the Ukrainian-speaking minorities there to engage in acts of terrorism, subversive acts and myriad provocations. Whoever is in power in Ukraine at that time will naturally deny all knowledge. But an official policy to continue to fight an official war against Russia with western help? I don’t think so. If they do I am sure Russia would make enough targeted strikes in response to deter such an activity.
There is no way that Ukraine can recover militarily in any great degree after Russia completes its campaign. Already the Ukrainian authorities are having to recruit the elderly and untrained who cannot hope to take the place of the regular, experienced soldiers the Ukrainian military has already lost in great numbers. Ukraine is going to be extremely weak militarily when this is over. This is surely not subject to any doubt. And Russia will insist that all remaining military assets be either destroyed or take into Russian/Republic hands as this epic struggle reaches its conclusion.
So will peace be finally arrived at with the Russians achieving the goals they set themselves? I believe yes, more or less. Much depends upon the western powers finally realising that there is no longer any point to pouring weapons into Ukraine in what was always a vain hope, that Ukraine could defeat Russia. Either that or a guerrilla war reaches within the newly gained Russian territories through U.S. and Ukrainian authority covert sponsoring that peace continues to be still far out of sight. This is a distinct possibility. However, the replacement of the present authorities in Ukraine with another, much more pragmatic president and government who recognise that they must now improve relations with Russia and indeed perhaps, be of a mindset to actively encourage this.
With the inevitable Russian victory I would foresee massive political changes across the western world and a proportionate lessening of western and NATO influence. The failure to defeat Russia cannot help but have huge repercussions from top to bottom in western societies with the political and media elites totally humiliated and aghast at the point to which their policies have brought them, the economic position of their nations and the way Eurasia, including of course Russia and China continues to rise in both economic terms and influence.
Within the areas Russia has taken and which will in due course become part of the Russian Federation the life standards of the people, the economic, social and transport infrastructure and incomes will be seen to rise and rise while those who live within what is left of Ukraine see a precipitous fall.
These are my current opinions and predictions regarding the future of the conflict in Ukraine.