Geopolitical Insights

Will Russia Invade Ukraine?

December 7, 2021
Following weeks of troop and military equipment movement, U.S. intelligence agencies and military are increasingly concerned that Russia is prepared for a rapid and large scale invasion of Ukraine on multiple fronts. Today, President Biden and President Putin will speak via a secure video call and the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine are expected to be the primary point of discussion. The U.S. has threatened strong sanctions not only on Russia but on Putin’s closest associates should they attack Ukraine.

Why it Matters:

“Part of the U.S.’s military’s response force is enroute to Europe to plan contingencies for this crisis. I expect that the Intelligence agencies believe Russian military operations are planned and there is a timeline established by Putin. The U.S. and its allies are working against that timeline. I personally think Putin will weigh options after the conversation with President Biden and decide when to act. However, I believe military intervention by Russia is inevitable. The question is when and how fast.” -General Frank Kearney

“I agree with General Kearney, and I also anticipate contingency movements to increase our ability to monitor and assess. I am also tracking folks headed east as a contingency. I do not see President Biden or NATO doing anything that would effectively deter Putin. Inevitable is the right word…timing is the question. In my opinion, neither President Biden nor NATO is willing to go to war with Russia over Ukraine.” – General Mastin Robeson

“An invasion will occur. It will be between now and Jan/Feb 2022. Putin’s objective is the Donbass where he has been assisting Ukrainian separatists. Putin will continue to invalidate and weaken Zelensky, essentially creating a crisis of confidence in his leadership. There will be a coup – Zelensky out and a transition of power. No clue who the new leader will be, but s/he will align with Putin. Putin has a “new Bulgaria.” -General Spider Marks

Macro Impact:

With European energy prices already sky-high, if push comes to shove, is Europe prepared to deal with higher energy prices and even more disruptions to their economy? The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, where Europe and the U.S. seemed to have a disagreement, may play into the calculus on Russia’s side. We have written in the past about the possibility that the size and scope of crypto markets make sanctions less effective than they have been in the past. It will be interesting to see if there is any unusual activity in crypto as Putin’s rich cronies prepare for potential sanctions. Finally, if Russia acts, I expect not only energy prices to spike globally, but for interest rates to drop in a “risk-off” type of trade. Not only would the markets price-in Russia’s activities but markets would start putting higher odds on China or Iran doing something disruptive in the wake of any Russian actions. –Peter Tchir, Academy’s Head of Macro Strategy