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Death of Zelenskyy or Putin: US assessed four "wild" scenarios of war in Ukraine

Wednesday, 12 April 2023, 10:18
Death of Zelenskyy or Putin: US assessed four wild scenarios of war in Ukraine

The US Defense Intelligence Agency considered scenarios for the development of the war in Ukraine in the event of so-called "wild card", i.e. unlikely, events.

Source: The New York Times

Details: The development of the scenarios became known from secret intelligence documents dated 24 February 2023, obtained by The New York Times.

The analysis, conducted by the Defense Intelligence Agency a year after the start of the full-scale war, outlines four "wild card" scenarios and how they could affect the course of the conflict in Ukraine.


The newspaper emphasises that such a scenario document is a fairly typical product for intelligence services. It is designed to help military officers, politicians or legislators think through the possible consequences of major events while assessing their options.

Hypothetical scenarios include the deaths of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a change of leadership in the Russian Armed Forces, and a Ukrainian strike against the Kremlin. The document describes how each of these situations could potentially lead to an escalation in Ukraine, a negotiated end to the conflict, or no significant impact on the course of the war.

At the same time, the descriptions of possible events do not include an assessment of what may be most likely.

Quote: "One of the four hypothetical scenarios games out what might happen if Ukraine strikes the Kremlin. A wide range of potential implications is 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 cause him to negotiate a settlement to the war.

The Biden administration has been particularly worried about a possible strike on Moscow by Ukraine because one might prompt a dramatic escalation by Russia. The dangers of such an attack by Ukraine are one reason the United States has been reluctant to provide longer-range missiles to Kyiv."


  • On 11 April, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said that the United States would investigate the recent leak of classified documents until its source is found.
  • Earlier, the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into the leak of a huge number of US intelligence documents that have been posted on social media in recent weeks.

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