Game Theoretic Analysis of Russian / Ukraine war

US / Russia escalate conventional de-escalate conventional go nuclear surrender / regime change
escalate conventional win / lose win / win lose / lose win / win
de-escalate conventional lose / win win / win lose / lose win / win 
go nuclear lose / lose lose / lose lose / lose lose / lose
surrender / regime change lose / win lose / win lose / lose lose / win

I recommend Garry Kasparov’s book, “Winter is coming”, for a background on Mr. Putin and the Russian Federation / Ukraine conflict. The basic takeaway from the book is that Mr. Putin is following the classic dictator — his aggression will not stop and will expand with every victory. Garry’s recommendation is that we need to stand up to Mr. Putin.

If we examine the conflict matrix above, one can see that there are two regions of local maxima. The first is when US escalates and the Russia de-escalates. The second is when US escalates and there is a regime change in Russia. US de-escalating leads to an easy loss, if Russia escalates. So the US policy is quite clear — we need to escalate with conventional forces and to avoid the first use of nuclear weapons.

What kind of escalation am I advocating? Well, much is already being done. But we need to supply them with heavy arms as well as Stingers, Harpoons, and Javelins. We need to provide them with real-time targeting intelligence. We need to supply them with transport and attack helicopters. We need to enforce a no-fly zone. Basically, we need to escalate the conventional conflict to the breaking point.

Can we avoid a nuclear conflict? Well the matrix clearly states that any nuclear conflict will be a lose/lose.  But Russian doctrine has a perverse statement that going nuclear can be considered a de-escalation. See Nikolai Sokov’s article in the March 8, 2022 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.Russian military doctrine calls a limited nuclear strike “de-escalation.” Here’s why.”

This strategy is Russian wishful thinking. Would a reasonable military planner believe that the first use of nuclear weapons, not be countered by a tit-for-tat nuclear response? I, for one, would be heading to the Moscow subways in the next weeks or so.

Really the only options that the Russians have is either to de-escalate their response, or to have a regime change.

In the first option, it would be relatively easy to let their conventional forces to continue to suffer heavy losses in terms of men killed and wounded and inoperative equipment. As their force gradually degrades, with continued loss of morale, their response will necessarily de-escalate. The force may lash out with increased civilian atrocities, even war crimes. This is to be expected as their military objectives fail. The will of the Ukrainian people will surely be tested. In this scenario the war can continue for quite a long time — turn into a “forever” war. Russian propaganda can feed their population the pablum — ”necessity” of the conflict.

I would advocate the second option, regime change. In this scenario, Mr. Putin simply has to retire. Russian forces come home and there is a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Europe and Russia have learned their respective lessons, and as usual Russia becomes the beneficiary of Western largess.

Where do I fit in this planning? Well, I am running for U.S. Senate for Missouri in 2022. Perhaps I will somehow collect the necessary 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Then again, perhaps not. I have until August 1, 2022. If I don’t get the signatures, then hopefully, I can continue to enjoy my retirement.

I encourage you to comment below and/or send me an e-mail.


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