WEF 2023: Where Is Ukraine Headed?

As the war in Ukraine is inching towards its one-year completion, uncertainty and complexity are mounting. So far, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of military personnel and civilians and forced nearly eight million Ukrainian refugees to flee across Europe. 

On the other side, the continuous support of the West to Ukraine and Russia’s solid military power keeps the war at a stalemate.

At the World Economic Forum’s Davos Summit, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to supply more arms and weapons to his war-torn country. Zelenskyy said, “Our collective Military mobilisation must outpace Russia’s rally. The supply of missile defence systems and western battle tanks to Ukraine should be faster than Russia’s next military move.”

On the same day, the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, appealed to establish peace. She said, “I am meeting here because deep inside, we believe there is no global problem that humanity and mankind would not be able to resolve.”

She further called on the world to recognise the ongoing human suffering across Ukraine.

‘We are facing the threat of the collapse of the world as we know it, the way that we are accustomed to it and to what we aspire to”

— Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine

One of the most significant factors influencing the future of war in Ukraine is the ongoing tensions between Russia and the West since the end of Second World War II, which lead to the Cold War later. 

Another major inflexion in relations started after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. The subsequent support for separatist groups in eastern Ukraine has led to increased sanctions and military support for Ukraine from the West.

The actions of separatist groups in eastern Ukraine will also play a significant role in shaping the future of the conflict as self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics have been engaged in a low-intensity war with Ukrainian government forces for several years.

Outcome of war

The potential outcome of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is a long-term stalemate or negotiated settlement between the Ukrainian government, Russia and separatist groups.

The Minsk Agreement, signed in 2015, aims to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but it has not been fully implemented. If the parties can find common ground, a negotiated settlement could end the fighting and pave the way for a more stable future in Ukraine and Europe.

Another outcome with less chance is an escalation of the conflict, leading to a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine. This would be a devastating outcome for both sides, with significant loss of life and economic damage. However, it is unlikely to happen without a third player who jumps into the war against Russia.

Andrzej Duda, President of Poland, warned that Russia is likely preparing itself for a new offensive in the next few months. “We must urgently send additional military support to Ukraine, especially modern tanks and missile systems to stop the Russian offensive,” he said. 

Europe should listen to the voice of Ukraine – they want to be part of Europe and they want to be part of NATO. “The next few months will be crucial to decide the outcome of the war,” he added.

The importance of acting now was also stressed by Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO. Russia is planning new offensive attacks and is conscripting more soldiers and restocking ammunition, he said. There is an urgent need for more advanced support including air defence systems. “We must fight for our democratic values – we have to prove that freedom wins over tyranny.”  


Acknowledging the complex nature of geopolitics, the future of war in Ukraine is uncertain. Apart from Russia and Ukraine, other players include the likes of the USA, NATO, European countries and pro-Russian separatist groups in the eastern regions of Ukraine, who will all play a role in shaping the ongoing conflict.

While a long-term stalemate or a negotiated settlement is a possible outcome, the potential for an escalation of the conflict remains a genuine concern. The message from the World Economic Forum 2023 was that the international community must work together to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and prevent a full-scale war.

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